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Fake News Publishers Risk Prosecution, Online Publishers’ President Warns

President of the Association of Online Media Practitioners of Nigeria (AMPON), Mogaji Wole Arisekola has warned publishers of fake news to desist saying they could face prosecution if they crossed the line.

Arisekola, publisher of Street Journal magazine, spoke with journalists on Friday in Lagos.

He said: “I have said it at different fora and I will continue to maintain that the fake news phenomenon is a serious scourge that must be fought headlong in Nigeria and stakeholders need to help in changing the narrative.

“More importantly, I equally urge the government through its law enforcement agencies to bring the purveyors of fake news to justice. The media space must be rid of irresponsible journalism and social media must also be sanitized to pave the way for decency and propriety.

“Gone are the days where someone will hide behind the computer or his or her smart phones and will be misleading the public with all manner of information that is not only untrue or fake but very damaging, repugnant or capable of causing unrest or setting the country on fire.

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“There are technologies now that can track any purveyors of fake news wherever they are. People with negative energy aren’t fit to practice journalism. Journalists must be balanced in their reportage, they must be investigative, thorough, unbiased and must also be ambassadors of truth, which is very sacred.”

He also warned that “newsmakers should as well be guided that there is no law restricting security agents from prosecuting any individual who crossed the line, particularly those feeding the public with lies, deceptions and misinformation.


“Journalists should also stop acting as if they are still in the era of imperial colonialism or fighting the unpopular apartheid regime. They must be socially responsible while upholding the principles of ethical practice.

“This is what I always tell every social media influencer, content maker, news publisher and also members of AMPON who today by God’s grace I am their President, and I can say they are very disciplined and law-abiding professionals who have passion for the job and I am proud of them all.”

Arisekola advised that journalists “must have a penchant for enhancing national unity and the public good, promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace and international understanding.


“They must continually take into consideration the socio-cultural condition under which they operate, even as they don’t lose sight of the universal commitments and requirements of the profession as well as the core values.

“This is why we are appealing to Nigerians not to ever engage in a knee-jerk reaction to any news, and to subject every piece of information to a very serious scrutiny before admitting them as fact.”

The Ibadan-born celebrity journalist and businessman described the fake news phenomenon as ‘the scourge of our time’ noting that it would “probably get worse if not nipped in the bud”.

He, therefore, called on all Nigerians to be very vigilant so that fake news purveyors do not succeed in their quest to sow the seeds of chaos, psychological trauma and confusion.

He also appealed to the traditional media, which has a reputation to protect, to as well join the campaign against the purveyors of fake news “so that the noble profession would not be hijacked by few unqualified hands who want to give it a bad name.”

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Segun Akinlabi

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