The Federal Government on Thursday alerted Nigerians to some fake video clips being circulated on the social media, purportedly showing how Nigerians are being killed in South Africa over xenophobia.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a news conference in Abuja, urged those circulating the videos to immediately desist from doing so.
He said, apart from inflaming passion, the videos are also complicating the efforts of the government to calm frayed nerves at home in the wake of the xenophobic attacks 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. 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.
“Another video shows those said to be Nigerians jumping down from a multi-storey building that was purportedly set on fire by xenophobic attackers in South Africa.
“This is fake news as the video is that of a Suraj Coaching Centre in Gujarat State, India, that was gutted by fire on May 24, 2019, leaving about 18 people dead.
“The third video, purportedly showing the bodies of Nigerians who were burnt in xenophobic attacks, is the raw footage of those who were killed in a Tanzanian fuel tanker explosion in Morogoro that left at least 60 dead on Aug. 10 2019,’’ he said.
The minister recalled that the government had alerted Nigerians to the dangers posed by fake news and disinformation when it launched the “National Campaign Against Fake News" on July 11, 2019.
“That campaign is more urgent now than ever, and I implore the media, in particular, to give it a renewed play.
“Fake news and disinformation represent a clear and present danger to every society,’’ he said.
The minister also appealed to opinion leaders and celebrities to be guarded in their utterances and comments on the xenophobic attacks and the reactions from Nigerians.
“Words have meaning, and wrong words are like poisoned darts.
“In the words of the Buddha, ”Better than a thousand hollowed words, is one word that brings peace.”’, he said.
Mohammed assured that the government would leave no stone unturned to protect Nigerian citizens anywhere around the world, including South Africa where they have been subjected to repeated xenophobic attacks.
He recalled that as part of the immediate measures to address the attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari had dispatched a special envoy to meet with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa.
He said the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema had also summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria.
“Of course you are aware that Nigeria is recalling its High Commissioner to South Africa, in addition to boycotting the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in South Africa.
“Government is also ready to evacuate Nigerians willing to return home from South Africa, in addition to other measures being considered to decisively tackle this cankerworm of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa,’’ he said..
Mohammed appealed to Nigerians who are angered by the xenophobic attacks on their compatriots in South Africa not to engage in reprisal attacks.