Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, has alerted Nigerians to the spread of fake videos of purported attacks on citizens in South Africa.
He said some people are using fake news to foment mayhem in the country.
The minister said this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja in reaction to the reprisal attacks against South African-owned businesses in the country.
The federal government had recalled its high commissioner to South Africa and boycotted the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in Cape Town over xenophobic attacks on citizens in that country.
Speaking at the press conference, Mohammed reiterated the appeal of the government to citizens not to “resort to self help by carrying out reprisal attacks against South African businesses in Nigeria”.
“The purpose of this press conference is to reiterate the appeal to Nigerians, who are justifiably angered by the attacks on their compatriots in South Africa, not to resort to self help by carrying out reprisal attacks against South African businesses in Nigeria,” he said.
“To alert Nigerians to the fact that some unscrupulous people are engaging in disinformation to inflame passion by using fake news and videos of non-related attacks; to very strongly warn the naysayers and hoodlums who might want to capitalise on the widespread disenchantment and anger of Nigerians over the attacks in South Africa to foment mayhem, and to appeal to Nigerians, especially opinion leaders, not to allow raw emotions to guide their response to the attacks.”
He said those spreading fake news are using viral videos purportedly showing how Nigerians are being killed in South Africa.
“One video shows a man who has been set ablaze trying to escape, and those circulating the video identified the man as Nigerian. This
is not true,” Mohammed said.
“The video shows Mozambican Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a victim of xenophobic violence in South Africa in 2008, and it is not that of a Nigerian being attacked in 2019.”
He appealed to opinion leaders and celebrities to be guarded in their comments on the xenophobic attacks, adding that the government would leave no stone unturned in protecting Nigerians anywhere in the world.
“Nigerians should be wary of the purveyors of these wrong videos. We strongly warn hoodlums who may wish to hide under the peaceful protests by Nigerians to loot, maim and kill that the security agencies will apprehend and bring them to justice,” he said.
“And to opinion leaders, we ask that they be guarded in their comments.”