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Police vow to clamp down on persons spreading fake news

by Maryam Olaniyi
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The Nigeria Police Force has condemned the spread of fake news and the perpetuation of cyberbullying, to discredit officers and the police system in the country.

The force warned citizens to exercise caution in the consumption and sharing of information online, noting that the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, had ordered that persons found engaging in cyberbullying or spreading false information should be prosecuted “to the full extent of the law”.

This was contained in a statement on Monday signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

Earlier in January, the Federal Capital Territory Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Josephine Adeh, had in a statement, debunked reports of over 200 persons kidnapped in the Bwari and Kuje Area Councils of the FCT between December 23, 2023, and January 4, 2024, stating that there were only “pockets of abductions”.

Again on January 21, 2024, the police debunked reports of an abduction at River Park estate along the Lugbe-Airport Expressway in Abuja, clarifying that the supposed victim, one Nnandi Agu, had faked his kidnap to defraud his brother who lived in the estate.

On January 24, the FCT Police Command also debunked reports of an explosion in Maitama, noting that preliminary findings had shown that the explosion was caused by an overheated metal refuse bin, causing injuries to two refuse evacuators.

Adejobi said the police had observed that individuals and groups maliciously spread old content and misinformation on various online platforms, with the intention “to undermine public trust in the policing system”, adding that the act was criminalised by “the combined effect of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and other extant criminal laws”

He described the spread of fake news as an assault on the security architecture of the country and disclosed that the IGP had ordered the NPF National Cybercrime Centre, to monitor online platforms, and to clamp down on individuals and groups bent on jeopardising Nigeria’s national security

The statement read in part, “The Nigeria Police Force condemns in the strongest terms the dissemination of fake news and the perpetuation of cyberbullying aimed at discrediting the diligent efforts of our officers in maintaining law and order. It has come to our attention that certain individuals and groups have been maliciously spreading old content and misinformation across various online platforms, seeking to undermine public trust in the policing system.

“Fake news and cyber bullying which are criminalised by the combined effect of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and other extant criminal laws, not only pose a threat to the reputation of the Force but also have the potential to incite fear and discord within the country.

“In response to this alarming trend, the NPF is intensifying its efforts to combat fake news and cyberbullying through increased vigilance and monitoring of online platforms as the IGP has ordered the NPF National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC) to clamp down on those individuals and groups of people who are bent on jeopardizing our national security and stability via the spread of fake news and misinformation”

“The IGP also ordered that all perpetrators found spreading false information or engaging in cyberbullying be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Police will work closely with relevant authorities to ensure swift and appropriate legal action against offenders.

“The NPF, therefore, calls upon all citizens to exercise caution and discernment when consuming and sharing information online. Together, we must stand united against the spread of misinformation and cyberbullying, recognising that the safety and well-being of our country depend on our collective efforts to uphold truth and integrity. Similarly, we urge members of the public to report any instances of fake news or cyberbullying to the Police for prompt investigation and action.”

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