From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed worry that fake news, thuggery and vote-buying pose serious threat to the 2023 general election.
This was just as it revealed that correctional officers across the country have been given a shoot-to-kill order on any attack on its facilities.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed these at a media briefing to highlight President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements from 2015-2023 in Abuja, yesterday.
Taking his turn at the fourth edition of the media briefing on Buhari’s achievements, Aregbesola reiterated that no inch of Nigerian territory is under control of insurgents just as he said Nigeria would begin local production of passport booklets.
“The biggest legacy will be our ability to push insurgents out of our land. There’s no insurgency stronghold anywhere in Nigeria. That’s the biggest achievement in security. Most people conveniently ignore that. At the advent of this administration in 2015, local governments in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa were under insurgents. “But, today, there is no square inch of the Nigerian soil under the control of the insurgents. It is the biggest achievement of our administration in security.
“Yes, there are still challenges here and there. Is there any nation where are no challenges? No!”
Aregbesola also disclosed that the report of the investigation into the recent terrorist attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre, which led to the release of hardened Boko Haram members has been submitted to the president.
“We have levels of investigations. We have concluded our own investigations in the ministry and in the services. We have sent our result, the outcome of that investigation to the President. It’s a security matter. You cannot disclose security information.” He added that security agencies have recaptured “a large number” of inmates who escaped as a result of the attack on the facility, noting that officers were being trained to eliminate such threats.
On the shoot-to-kill order, he said: “We are not saying shoot and wound. We are saying shoot and send whoever tries to attack our facilities back to their senders. We are not just saying it, we are training our officers to do it.”
In his opening remarks, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, reiterated that impediments to a successful conduct of the general election should be nipped in the bud.
“The increasing resort to fake news and disinformation…is becoming a great threat to the success of the 2023 general election. It is generally assumed that thuggery, insecurity, vote buying, attack on INEC facilities, etc, are the biggest threats to the elections, but, fake news and disinformation constitute an equally-potent threat, because they are capable of hampering the success of the polls.
“In recent times, we have all witnessed how a letter purportedly from INEC was used to cast aspersions on the candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress. Shortly after that, the death of an innocent man was turned to a political tool to further attack the same APC candidate. Of course there have been other cases similar to the two I have just enumerated.
“This is a dangerous development which must be nipped in the bud. If the opposition has suddenly realised that they cannot match the ruling party in a free and fair election, and have thus decided to weaponise fake news and disinformation, the media should not allow itself to be used for that nefarious purpose,” Mohammed said.