Fake news violates constitution, say Olanipekun, Abati
April 30, 2018
Fake news violates the 1999 Constitution and is therefore a criminal offence, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and former presidential spokesman Dr Reuben Abati have said.
They spoke at a roundtable discussion on Fake News and the Future of the Media, organised as part of activities marking the launch of the book: Brands In News, written by Raheem Akingbolu.
Olanipekun, who chaired the event, lamented the damage fake news has caused in the society.
The former NBA president, who claimed to have been a victim of fake news in the past, urged media practitioner to rise up and eliminate fake news.
“I have been a victim of fake news before and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. This is the reason why media practitioners must sit up and eliminate the virus called ‘fake news’, which has eaten quite deep into the society since the invention of social media,” he advised.
According to Olanipekun, the introduction of ‘Citizen Journalism’ has not helped matters, rather, it has been a key factor in the spread of fake news.
He noted that fake news is thriving because Nigeria has not been abiding with the Constitution.
He made reference to Freedom of the Press Law in Malawi and Section 152 of the Ghanaian Constitution that have provision for free reportage of news as well as providing sanction against fake news.
Dr Abati, who was the keynote speaker, identified conscience, values and responsibility as salient weapons in fighting fake news.
“In virtually every country of the world there is a presence of fake news”, which he described as fabricated news intended to “mis-inform, dis-inform, sensationalise, hurt, achieve a specific objective either for profit or mischief”.
According to him, globalisation and technology have contributed to the spread of news stories rapidly although in different perspective.
He said: “We are in the age of citizen journalism. However, fake news creates confusion, misleads and is a form of distortion, which has raised questions about media and its responsibility.”
This, he noted, can cause a lot of damage when used with the wrong medium.
According to him, “the media should act as an instrument of nation building. The media is to set agenda and establish standards, provide leadership and not to cause damage or tell lies.
“Section 39 of the Constitution allows freedom of expression and the right of ownership, but Section 15 is for the media to provide security and welfare of the people.
“Our job as journalists is to stand for the people, but the same media is being used to cause damage,” he lamented.
Dr Abati, a former Special Advicer on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, urged journalists to stick to the truth and not publish fake news in order not to breach the trust of the people.
The author, Akingbolu, said his experience as a journalist, since his student days up to professional life, motivated him to write the book, which is his first.
He said: “This is my own contribution to national development and the growing media”.
Others present at the event included Publisher of This Day, Mr Nduka Obaigbena; Publisher, Marketing Edge, Mr John Ajayi; former Editor, The Nigerian Compass, Mr Gabriel Akinadewo; Book reviwer, Mr Tony Kan; Managing Director of Precise Communication, Mr Bolaji Okusaga; President Premium Eagle Publications, Mr Dotun Oladipo; former Vice Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Lagos Branch, Mrs Bolanle Olatunde; Managing Director, Proshare, Mr Femi Awoyemi and Mr Lolu Akinwunmi, who was the moderator at the event.