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Fake news: Police propose prohibition act

The Nigeria police force has proposed a fake news prohibition act in the country.

The police made the proposal on Wednesday during a fake news conference organised by the BBC world service in Abuja.

But some experts at the programme including Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate, argued that rather than introduce a new law to fight fake news, existing ones should be implemented.

Decrying the spate of fake news in Nigeria, Abayomi Shogunle, head, public complaint rapid response unit at the force headquarters, said such laws will also curb circulation of fake news on social media.

“Should the freedom of expression cover fake news, my answer is know. Do we need a legislation to fight fake news? My answer is yes,” he said.

“And I believe Nigeria, we are still not doing enough to fight fake news. There should be fake news prohibition act; not just cyber crime act. There should be fake news prohibition act.”

Soyinka, however, said Nigeria has “sufficient legislation to check fake news”.

“So it is left for the law enforcement agencies to take these a little more seriously. Beyond the physical harm, fake news also disrupts the mentality of a vulnerable generation,” he said.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said to curb fake news, especially on the social media, there should be more collaboration between countries.

“The traditional media obviously operate in a more responsible manner and the simple reason it is so is because there are consequences and it is much easier to hold them to account to help regulate social media,” he said.

“(But) there is an opportunity for more collaboration; in other words, shouldn’t we be looking at some kind of conventions and agreements between nations.”

Festus Okoye, a national commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), acknowledged that fake news constitutes a “serious” challenge to the forthcoming elections.

He suggested a way out of the problem: “I think we should try to understand the dynamics of social media and try to compete. If a fake story is out, you put out the rebuttal and let both compete. In terms of the traditonal media, I believe we should have more specialisation, better training.”

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