Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has urged Nigerians, particularly media practitioners to eschew spread of fake news, adding that it would exacerbate disunity in the country.
The Minister made the statement at the 3rd Anniversary of Muslim News Nigeria/#MNAwards2020 held on Saturday in, Lagos, where he called on all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or tribe to always speak the truth and promote goodness.
Pantami was the recipient of the Nigerian Muslim Personality of the Year 2020 award at the event that saw in attendance Muslim achievers who have excelled in their various professions, including law, media, health, entertainment, among others.
Other awardees present included Alhaji Femi Abbas, a veteran journalist; Barrister Ibrahim Yakubu Umar, Solicitor of Supreme Court of Nigeria; Dr. Saliu Oyelami, MD, Shifauk Hospital, who were awarded the Nigerian Muslim Media, Legal and Health Persons of the Year 2020, respectively.
Popularly known as Sheikh Pantami by fellow Muslims, the Minister who also chaired the event said that Islam denounces fake news, adding that there is no place in the Qur’an and Hadith that encourages spread of falsehood.
The Minister, noted that the theme of the Anniversary event is very apt.
According to him, discussing the negative impacts of media framing, fake news and hate speech and proffering solutions is one of the most important things to always discuss and address, especially at this point.
“Fake and biased news is one of the issues causing disunity in our country. Irrespective of our religion or tribe, we must try to promote goodness, speak the truth, do what is right and encourage others to do what is right. In all the verses of the Qur’an, there is no place Allah agreed with fake news.
“For example, if you look at Suratul Hujuraat, Q.49; verse 6, Allah draws our attention to the need for investigating. The Qur’an says: Oh you who believe, if an evil person comes to you with any news, investigate so that you will not harm people out of ignorance and thereafter you regret your action. This verse is the foundation of the fight against fake news. As Muslims, even if someone attacks us with fake news, we must not respond to him with same. Rather we should be objective and fair to him.
“For our friends who are in the media, they should always abide by this rule of investigating. This goes beyond the ethics of journalism. It is part of the ethics of Islam as a religion. If we can comply with this, we will make Nigeria a better place for all.”
The newly appointed Professor of Cyber-security also cited the scenario where the wife of the Prophet, Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) became the target of fake news, which generated concerns among the Muslims.
“Furthermore, if you look at Suratu-n-Nuur, Q. 24, Allah espoused to us the dangers of fake news, particularly what was attributed mischievously to the mother of the believers, Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her). When Abdullah Ibn Ubay Ibn Saluul, the leader of the hypocrites spread fake news against Aisha, saying that she committed an illegal sexual relationship with Safwaan, our beloved Prophet directed Aisha to go back to her father’s house and wait until Allah reveals a message about her situation.
“That’s why Allah revealed some verses in Suratu-n-Nuur to exonerate Aisha. Allah said those who came to you with fake news about the mother of the believers are a group of people amongst you, don’t anticipate that what they have done is evil to you because it will become good for you. As a Muslim, if you remain upright, whatever anyone does to destroy you, Allah will protect you. That is exactly what happened with Aisha as Allah exonerated and elevated her.
“Furthermore, Allah said in the same Suratu-n-Nuur that some of the people were already spreading the fake news about Aisha without critically investigating, thinking it is light, but before Allah, spreading fake news is not light.
“On the other hand, in Suratul Ahzaab, verses 70 and 71, Allah draws our attention to the importance of spreading the good news. He said, O you who believe, fear Allah and speak the truth. Show the world that Islam is the most upright religion. If you speak the truth, Allah will make your actions to be righteous and forgive you of your sins. As Muslims, we are always urged to speak the truth, do what is right, promote justice. May Allah guide us and give us the ability and wherewithal to be fair to all and sundry.”
According to him, Allah does not take the issue of fake news with levity as it constitutes a grievous misdeed.
He urged Nigerians to promote facts, justice and fairness to all, as it is rewarding and has the tendency of making the country a better place for everyone.
Commending Muslim News
Prof. Pantami commended the effort of the management of Muslim News for its consistency in spreading the truth and promoting goodness in the last three years of its existence.
According to him, “Let me start by commending the efforts of Muslim News Nigeria for organising this 3rd year anniversary and especially for being consistent over the last three years in publishing a newspaper both online and print.
“This is indeed highly commendable, because in Nigeria today maintaining a media by a group of Islamic personalities is one of the most difficult things to happen due to so many challenges. Despite that, Muslim News Nigeria has been very consistent.
The event was attended by former Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr Abdul Lateef AbdulHakeem; Amirah of the Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria, Hajiah Rafiah Sanni; former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos Chapter, Dr Qasim Akinreti; MD/CEO of Complete Sports, Alhaji Mumuni Alao; Alhaji Tajudeen Uzamat of Uzamat Communications; Chairman, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, Barr. Ajibola Kaka, among others.