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How fake news almost ruined my 40-year-old marriage — Lai Mohammed

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The immediate past Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has recounted how fake news peddled on social media almost crashed his 40-year-old marriage.

The ex-minister gave the account in Lagos at an event to commemorate the 90th birthday anniversary of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel laureate for literature.

He recalled that one of the pressing challenges he faced in office as minister was the spate of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.

Speaking specifically about how the menace almost ruined his marriage, Mohammed stressed that the consequences of fake news, disinformation, and misinformation were far-reaching.

“Permit me to share publicly with you today, for the first time, how social media threatened the foundation of my forty-year-old marriage.

“It was sometimes in 2018 when I came to Lagos from Abuja for an official assignment.

“As usual, I retire to bed about midnight, but about 3 a.m., my wife gently roused me from my slumber.

“At first, I panicked, fearing that there had been a security breach, but my wife’s mind belied that possibility, for she was calm and composed,” the ex-minister said.

He continued: “Solemnly, my wife asked me if I was fully awake as there were some serious issues to discuss.

“I could not fathom what was that urgent or serious to warrant being woken up at this time of the night.

“My mind immediately did a kaleidoscope of my rascalities and escapades in the last few months.”

Mohammed said the accusation from his wife which according to him, was ‘a bombshell’ narrated to him in Yoruba language, but roughly translated thus:

“Daddy, death can come knocking at any moment, please let me also, as your wife, be a signatory to your oversea account in Ali Financial which contains 1.3 billion dollars.”

The former minister said he could not believe that his wife could take, hook, line, and sinker the fake story in circulation crediting humongous sums of money in overseas accounts to government functionaries/ministers under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“I spent the next two hours or so, sweating to convince my wife that there is no iota of truth in the allegation.

“I had to fetch a calculator and reproduce the Federal Appropriation Act for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 in the middle of the night and explain to her why it is simply preposterous for me to have 1.3 billion dollars in a foreign account.

“I explained to her that there is no year my capital budget exceeded N5 billion, which, at about N400 to a dollar, was just 12.5 million dollars.

 

“I explained that, even if I managed to divert every kobo of it to my personal account, it would take at least 104 years to save the sum of 1.3 billion dollars being peddled that I stole,” he said.

Mohammed added: “My wife insisted that the whole world believed the story and that her friends had as a result, besieged her with all kinds of requests.

“She said every effort on her part to deny the existence of this foreign account only succeeded in depicting her in the minds of her friends as a selfish, greedy, and uncaring friend.

“Is my wife truly convinced of my innocence? The answer is in the wind!.”

Mohammed reiterated that social media remained the platform of choice for the purveyors of fake news, anti-state groups, anarchists, secessionists, terrorists, and bandits.

He recalled that while in government, his ministry uncovered 476 online publications that were dedicated to spreading fake news against the Buhari administration.

Mohammed specifically recalled the fake news that the former president had died while receiving treatment in a London hospital and was replaced by a clone called “Jubril from Sudan.”

According to him, the challenge of fake news continued up to the campaigns leading to the 2023 general elections, where President Bola Tinubu became a target when videos and speeches attributed to him were manipulated and distorted.

He said the purveyors of fake news were relentless in their efforts to de-market the laudable policies and programmes of Tinubu’s administration.

Mohammed said fake news had become exponential through the use of Artificial Intelligence and deep learning techniques to create highly realistic fake or manipulated videos, audio recordings or images.

“The consequences of disinformation and misinformation are far-reaching.

“They undermine democratic processes, sow discord within communities, and pose significant threats to public health and safety.

“Today, even the media is at risk of losing its credibility because of the proliferation of fake news on social media.

“Therefore, the media, as custodians of the public trust, must take decisive action to combat the scourge of disinformation and misinformation,” he said.

Mohammed said that social media platforms and other intermediaries accountable for their role in amplifying disinformation and misinformation should be held responsible.

According to him, they should be checked through robust regulatory frameworks to curb the spread of false information while safeguarding freedom of expression.

He admonished social media platforms to prioritise the integrity of information over profit motives and take proactive measures to detect and remove harmful content from their platforms. (NAN)

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Unknown Gunmen Abduct Channelstv Reporter In Port-harcourt

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Some unknown gunmen have kidnapped Joshua Rogers, the ChannelsTV reporter in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Politics Nigeria learnt that Rogers was picked up close to his residence at Rumuosi in Port Harcourt and to an unknown destination by the gunmen around 9pm on Thursday, April 11.

The reporter was driving his official ChannelsTV branded car when the hoodlums accosted, pointed a gun at him and took him away in the same vehicle.

 

Rogers was said to be returning from his official assignment in Government House after a trip to Andoni for a government event when the incident happened.

Already, the gunmen were said to have contacted his wife and demanded a N30million ransom for bis release.

His cameraman confirmed the incident and appealed to his abductors to set him free unconditionally.

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Lassa Fever Kills 150 In Nigeria — NCDC

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According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), 150 people died from Lassa virus in 125 local government areas throughout 27 states in the federation between January and March 2024.

The NCDC reported that the deaths were recorded with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 18.6% overall from week one to week thirteen, 2024. This is higher than the CFR for the same time in 2023 (17.5%).

In its Lassa Fever Situation Report Epi Week 13, which was released on March 25–31, 2024, the agency revealed that 806 of the 5,295 suspected cases that were recorded were confirmed. Eyes Of Lagos reports,

According to the report, in week 13, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 25 in Epi week 12, 2024 to 15. These cases were reported in Ondo, Bauchi, Plateau and Edo states.

 

In total for 2024, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 125 LGAs, even as 62 percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states, while 38 percent of cases were reported from 24 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.

Of the 62 percent confirmed cases, the NCDC said Ondo reported 24 percent, Edo 22 percent, and Bauchi 16 percent. The predominant age group affected is 31-40 years (Range: 1 to 98 years, Median Age: 32years), with a male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases of 1:1.

From the report, the number of suspected cases (5,295) increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2023 (4,338).

The agency confirmed that the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System has been activated to coordinate response at all levels at the Emergency Operations Centre, EOC.

No new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week 13, the report noted.

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