The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai says fake news not only poses threat to national security but makes the ongoing counter terrorism operation in the North East more difficult.
Buratai urged Nigerians to be patriotic and wary of false information, as well as condemn those behind it. “It is inimical to national security; it is inimical to the morale of the troops and by and large, it is one of the demoralising factors making the counter insurgency operation more difficult.’’
Buratai, therefore, urged those spreading fake news on the ongoing operations, including a section of the media to desist from such. He stated that terrorists survive on propaganda to get attention and spread their ideology as well as to create fear and the impression that they were “untouchable, invincible or have capacity that they do not possess.’’
“Nigerians must be very careful not to fall to their antics by condemning their actions and propaganda, and support the efforts of the military, especially the Nigerian army.
According to Buratai, the army, who is on the ground fighting the terrorists, bears the consequences of the fake news. He recalled that after the recent attack on troops of 157 Task Force Battalion at Metele, many casualty figures on the part of the army was bandied.
“So many figures were bandied around that we are the victim of the unfortunate incident but this is far, far from the figure. The figure so far has been 23, even it is one it is unfortunate, but to go out of the reality, to continue to spread false information is really unfortunate,’’ he said.
After the incident, various media reports at different times put the casualty figures at 44, 70, 100 and above until a few days ago when the army confirmed 23 dead and 31 others wounded. Buratai, however, said that the army was working to counter fake news being spread about it and its operations and exercise through its newly established Cyber Warfare Command.’’
He said that was being done through quick responses to enquiry and timely dissemination of information, noting that information through social media platforms “spreads like wild fire.’’
“So far, we have been responding timely and timely response has been the major function of the Nigerian army cyber warfare command and we will continue to ensure that they respond appropriately,’’ he added.
On the one billion dollars approved by the federal government to buy arms for the military, Buratai said that the army has yet to access its share of the fund. “You know the process of funding is another major issue. The bureaucracy and so on is another issue. Approvals are given but before you really get the money out is another challenge.
“So, the people are talking or the media have been talking of one billion dollars that has been approved but I tell you up till today the fund that is supposed to come from that amount to the army in particular, is still in the Central Bank of Nigeria – CBN.
“The Ministry of Defence is yet to access the fund, while people say the funds are with the military; no, it is still with the CBN. When the ministry of defence gets the fund, the process is on right now, they will get the right equipment for us as proposed,’’ the army chief said.