The world was taken aback last Tuesday May 16th 2017, following news of the death of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, that surfaced from online sources whereas Buhari is currently ongoing treatment in London.
This is not the first time the media has reported his death.
To bring those behind this fake news to book, Nigeria's National Forum of Democrats(NFD) says they are not happy with the rumours surrounding Buhari health condition, and has urged the National Security Adviser(NSA) and the Director General(DG), Department of State Security(DSS) to do something about it.
NFD wants the culprits paralysed for life.
NFD's National President Alhadji Gambo Danbatta expressed concerns over the danger of such fake news, and its consequences to the Nigerian Democracy. He also said in what he described as ' sad and depressing' that desperate politicians have come to this sorry past, where the issue of mortality that applies to all, has become ready tools in the hands of those who think Nigeria must remain in their pockets.
He pointed that there are procedures for confirming an individual's death before going to town with the story, such as contacting personal physician, lawyer, next of kin or in the case of a world leader, the official spokespersons. His words: "The persons behind the fake news site are fully intended to deploy it for evil. They registered it from Scottsdale, Arizona, the US in October of last year and updated the site for this evil plot sometimes in April this year".
"Thankfully, presidential aides were quick to calm Nigerians and assure them as to the safety and health of Mr President, who was that time in the company of his best friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby at the Lambert Palace in London, the United Kingdom. "This has nothing to do with freedom of expression, which is not the same as freedom to lie, it is about criminals plotting to use fake news to destabilize the country.''
He urged the security agencies to shut down the fake site while creating an early warning system to identify similar sites that will proliferate in the days ahead.
According to Danbatta, collaborative efforts should be established globally to curb the menace of fake news as it has now been identified as an international concern.
"Our hope is that the real Metro newspaper would work with the British High Commission and the Nigerian authorities to track down those exploiting its name to commit crime. Those behind the fake news should be treated in this instance as no less than hackers who deserve to get the maximum punishment possible once identified," he added.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Muslim faithfuls joined top Islamic clerics in Lagos over the weekend to hold a prayer session for Nigeria and President Buhari.. The prayer session which was organised by the Lagos state chapter of The Muslim Congress (TMC) was tagged, “Muslims Pray for the Nation.”
Leading Islamic scholars in Nigeria including Sheikh Moshood Ramadan and Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii said one of the cardinal principle of religion and manifestations of love is to pray for your nation and its leaders.