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NOA trains 37000 fact-checkers to tackle fake news

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Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, has cautioned against initiating and spreading of fake news and misinformation, saying they are capable of destroying national peace and unity.

Abari made the comment at the kick-off of the National Orientation Agency Fact-Checking Capacity Building for 37,000 Nigerians in the 36 states and FCT over the next five years.

He said that the agency would be training 1000 fact-checkers in each state and FCT to curb the menace of fake news and misinformation.

“As an agency of government statutorily saddled with the responsibility of sensitising, reorientating and enlightening the public, the vanguard role of NOA in curbing fake news, hate speech and cybercrimes is crucial. 

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“It is in recognition of this responsibility that we included the task of training 1000 fact checkers in each state and FCT over a period of five years in our 5-Year Strategic Work Plan (2021 to 2026).

“The upsurge of fake news in our country has assumed alarming and dangerous proportion, capable of heating up the polity and destroying the very fabric of our national peace and unity. Fake news, as the name implies, is very often intended to instigate, cause hate, anger and acrimony with the main aim of causing disaffection, division, violence and even war. 

“Fake news is outright falsehood; distorted or alternative facts purveyed as authentic news intended to mislead people, cause disaffection, contusion and chaos. Although fake news has been with us over time, the advent of the Internet, especially the social media, encouraged its spread like wild fire,” he said.

The DG urged media, civil society and stakeholders in the Nigerian project to work in partnership to defeat fake news, hate speech and the merchants of violence and war.

Earlier in his remarks, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, lauded the leadership of NOA for speaking against fake news and tackling misinformation.

He said: “In every community and society of the world, there are liars. It’s our duty as human beings to be patience to cross check information. And that is what we are doing as a government agency to provide Nigeria with a channel were you could check information,” he said.

The Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Dr. Mansur Liman, who was represented by Director of News, Sani Suleiman, called on Federal Government to create a platform to fact-check fake information in Nigeria.

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