Fake News: Arise News Must Face The Law

By Funke Cole

Like common criminals, peddlers of fake news just like their distant cousins including fifth columnists, saboteurs, 10 percenters, arms dealers and other patrons who hold the patent rights to heinous crimes don’t deserve to live amongst humans as their continuous existence is inimical to the smooth running of any society.

Sadly so, Arise News and its team fit into the character portraiture of those mentioned above.

Indeed, Arise TV team, to say the least, have become common criminals because their brand of journalism thrives and survives mainly on propaganda, half-truths, fairy tales and mendacious lies!

For the Arise News team, good journalism is a taboo because such can’t guarantee the filthy lucre and kickbacks, the ingredients which fuel their passion.

Having set the precedence, the owner, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, otherwise referred to as The Duke, a wheeler-dealer himself; expects all his staffers to act accordingly.

Little wonder the Arise News team can go to any length to serve their paymasters even at the detriment of the finer points of journalism which is transparency, fairness, probity, justice, equity, public interest and morality to mention just a few.

Thankfully, the Arise Newa team has never made any pretenses about where and what they stand for. Like an odious smell, Arise TV stench pervades everywhere so much so that even the blind can easily see where the bad odour is coming from!

Is it not shocking to know that a cable television which enjoys viewership on the global stage will give a fake news item such a wide coverage?

Imagine they went to town with an unverifiable news item purportedly issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the effect that the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had been disqualified from contesting the 2023 general elections on account of forgery and perjury without ascertaining the veracy or otherwise of such news item from the so-called source.

Clearly, if the motive was not to malign, vilify, extinguish, assassinate the character of Asiwaju they would have had the presence of mind to at least reach out to INEC officials because of the weighty allegations. But no. They had it all worked out, a script which they must act out to the last scene so they went to town with it because the news item was in their own estimation going to nail Asiwaju’s political ambition in the coffin!

But how wrong they were. Their only alibi, the purported news item from INEC fell flat as the electoral umpire denied any knowledge of the press statement attributed to them.

Arise News team alleged that Tinubu may be disqualified, so the onus lies on them to offer proof of the allegations because the rule is ‘he who alleges must prove!’

Of course, the rule in journalism is that if it doesn’t smell well, it doesn’t sell well! But then, we’re no more in an era where you can just publish and be damned! No. Surely, the Arise News team has bitten more than they can chew and must be ready to stew in their own juice!

This should also serve as a notice to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to rein in the excesses of the Arise News team, especially at this material time, on the eve of an election year just three months away to revoke the license of this station to avoid the sad but gut wrenching experience of the Rwanda genocide fueled by media propaganda. It’s that serious and shouldn’t be taken kindly.

Thank God for the judiciary too. Arise News team must get ready to have its day in court. Nigeria is not yet a banana republic where anything and everything goes. So to the court, all parties responsible for spreading the half-truths, fairy tales, mendacious lies must go and that includes the Arise TV team because they are the Fake-News-Peddlers-in-Chief.

There’s no need to shed crocodile tears and hide behind the facade of rumours, ignorance and mistakes. No. Even the apologia they hurriedly scribbled can’t suffice this time. They must be taught a very hard lesson now. Arise News team must have its day in court. No more no less.

° Cole is a Doctoral Student, Dept of History, University of Lagos

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