The Kano State Police Command has arrested an Administrator and members of a WhatsApp Group for circulating fake news and an image of a married woman whom they claimed was trafficking in children in the city.
The Spokesperson of the Police in the State, Superintendent of Police Magaji Musa Maaji told PRNigeria that the suspects were arrested and paraded after the victim of the circulated image lodged a formal complaint to the Police Command. Magaji said: “We received a complaint from a married woman and a civil servant, Mrs Bushirat Madaki, that her picture is being shared on WhatsApp group with the intent to malign and incite the public against her.”
Upon receiving the complaint, the Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Rabiu Yusuf ordered an immediate investigation by a special team who were able to trace and arrest three married suspects a man and two women for circulating the fake and offensive information.
“When confronted over the petition against them, the suspects admitted that the image and material on the woman were shared and forwarded in their group.” They also admitted that they didn’t know the woman in person and have never interacted with her before distributing the image and the story. They, therefore, sought forgiveness.
For now, the Police Command has granted the suspects bails because the offence is bailable while further investigation is ongoing. The police command is also currently providing security cover for the innocent woman for fear of mob attacks because her image and the false report on her have gone viral.
The police spokesperson said it is an offence to share and circulate fake news that could undermine national security or incite the public against innocent people. He further said: “We call on social media users to be wary of what they receive and share or forward on social media, especially WhatsApp. We should guard against the misuse of social media platforms by sharing and forwarding objectionable or fake messages.”
Generally, concerns have been raised about social media misuse as fake news, morphed photographs and disturbing videos with fabricated local narratives are being circulated and that can trigger tension, political crisis and even communal conflict in sensitive communities.