APC chieftain caught spreading fake news on Facebook

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Barely a week after the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, kickstarted a campaign against the proliferation of fake news, a top member of the ruling party has been caught posting false information on his social media page.

Decrying the spread and the imminent danger posed by the spread of fake news and hate speeches, last Friday, Mr. Mohammed said that fake news not only threatens the peace and security but was also a threat to the corporate existence of the country.

“In a country like Nigeria which is multi-ethnic and religious, fake news and hate speech is time bomb.

“We also launched the campaign to sensitise Nigerians that each and every one of us can play a role in combating the rising level of fake news.

“Fake news is a global issue, it is not just a Nigerian issue but we are more concerned about Nigeria because of the potential it has to our corporate existence,” Mr Mohammed said.

But on Tuesday, the publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Joe Igbokwe posted a clear misinformation to thousands of his followers on his Facebook wall.

Accompanied with a picture, which was apparently taken inside Aso Presidential Villa of a police officer walking past President Muhammadu Buhari, who was sitting behind a desk in the background, Mr Igbokwe posted:

“Please meet ACP Obinna Chukwuka, the tear rubber Chief Security Officer to Mr President,” Mr Igbokwe wrote. Tear rubber in local parlance means ‘new’.

The post was apparently used to depict the president, who has come under verbal attacks over the perceived lopsidedness of his political appointments, as a detribalised leader.

PREMIUM Times investigation revealed that the claim made in the post was false as the president is yet to replace his Chief Security Officer, Bashir Abubakar.

Mr Abubakar was appointed as the president’s CSO in July 2015 after his predecessor, Abdulrahman Mani, was sacked.

Before his appointment the President CSO, Mr Abubakar wss an assistant director of the secret police, Department for State Security (DSS) in Bayelsa State.

When contacted, Mr Abubakar said it was not true that he had been replaced. He, however, declined further comment, stating that he was busy at the time.

As at Wednesday afternoon, the post had attracted over 140 likes and had been shared over 30 times.

The president’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not return calls made to his mobile phone and has not responded to an sms sent to him for comment.

But when contacted, an official at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olusegun Adekunle, said he was not aware that any replacement had been appointed for Mr. Abubakar.

“I am not aware of any change from the inside,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Adekunle is the permanent secretary in charge of general services at the SGF office. He is responsible for tracking and issuing letters of appointments for the president’s appointees.

“Is it false?”

When reached for comments Mr Igbokwe said the post did not originate from him adding that he merely copied it “because it was trending”.

“If you look at it you will see that it was copied. The thing has been trending. I copied it from… you know sometimes you copy from a reliable source. It didn’t come from me. It was from a particular source I can trust,” he said during a telephone interview.

But when asked if he confirmed whether the news was true before posting, a bemused Mr Igbokwe replied: “No o. No o, because I said I trust those people. I have my friends on Facebook. Is it false? Is it false? If is false. I have pulled down so many stories that are false.”

He added that he did not confirm the veracity of the post because nobody has flagged it as fake.

“Because I have seen it trending and nobody has said it was fake news, I have seen some of my reliable partners post it that is why I shared it.”

Penchant for posting controversies?

Mr Igbokwe has over 21,000 followers on Facebook and many of his posts attract hundreds of comments, shares and likes. He has a penchant for posting controversial items on Facebook.

On July 8, soon after PREMIUM TIMES’ story revealing that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun forged her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate, Mr Igbokwe posted a photoshopped image of Ms. Adeosun in a corps member fatigue with the tag: “Wailers will you keep quiet!”.

“Wailers” is a slur used by supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari to describe his critics. The term was popularised by Femi Adesina, Mr Buhari’s top media aide.

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