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‘Local, Global Threat’: Social Media Now A National Security Priority, Says Nigeria’s NSA Ribadu  

Nigeria’s NSA Ribadu warns of social media’s misuse and urges a strategic communication overhaul to counter disinformation.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, on Monday, said negative use of social media constituted both local and global threats and, as such, presented an immediate national security priority.

Ribadu disclosed that the National Security Strategy (NSS) was last reviewed in 2015, a situation that gave rise to the launch of the 2019 version, which he said was now under review.

Ribadu spoke in Abuja at a meeting with spokespersons of organisations under the umbrella of Strategic Communication Interagency Policy Committee.

He directed media managers in the defence, security and response agencies to change their approach in engaging with the public and countering disinformation from enemies of the country.

At the same time, the detained terrorist negotiator, Mohammed Tukur Mamu, begged a Federal High Court, Abuja, to order his release from the custody of the Department of the State Services (DSS) to the Correctional Centre in Kuje, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The NSS document is reviewed every five years in view of the changing dynamics of security threats in the country.

Ribadu said members of the Strategic Communication Interagency Policy Committee must be proactive and strategic in national security communication management.

He said the spokesmen in the security sector must address the worrying use of the media and social media platforms in creating division between the citizens and governments at various levels.

Ribadu also listed the preponderance of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation as threats to national security and public engagement.

He stated, “Across the world, we have also assessed the adept use of social media platforms by those who seek power to shape public opinion against citizens. This threat is both global and local and presents an immediate national security priority.

“The urgency to prepare and be proactive in our national security strategic communication management is now, and the spokespersons have a critical role to play.”

Ribadu asserted that the National Security Strategy 2019, currently under review, identified strategic communication as an element of national power.

He hinted that the strategy should be integrated into all operational aspects, including information operations, psychological operations, public diplomacy and public relations, so as to project the country’s national power and values.

The NSA also called for the adoption of a plan of action to engage Nigerians, build trust, and counter violent extremism.

He charged the spokespersons to synergise and coordinate efforts to deny media space to terror groups and criminal elements, like Boko Haram and armed bandits, bent on stifling citizens’ freedom to life, dignity and security.

Ribadu said in engaging with the public, communicators in the security sector should adopt strategies that took into account the personal sacrifices of service personnel.

He said, “Upon the sweat and blood of service personnel and the men and women who protect us daily, we must build a narrative of resilience and mobilise our people.

“We must tell their stories and sing their praise as part of a broader national strategic communication programme.

“As spokespersons, you have a critical role to play in effective governance communication to project our results and reach audiences at home and abroad.

“Countering fake news will require that we are ahead of the news and proactively update the public.”

The NSA promised to ensure that, going forward, government communication aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s vision and directives, and the messages were well-coordinated and in line with national security objectives and values.

Mamu Seeks Transfer to Kuje Prison

Detained terrorist negotiator, Mohammed Tukur Mamu, on Monday, begged a Federal High Court in Abuja, to order his release from the custody of the Department of the State Service (DSS) to the correctional centre in Kuje.

Mamu, in an application moved on his behalf by his lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, SAN, specifically urged the court to vary the order remanding him in custody of the DSS.

The federal government is trying Mamu over alleged complicity in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack in 2022.

At the resumed trial, on Monday, his lawyer alleged that the order of the court made on December 19, 2023, that he be allowed access to his personal physician for medical treatment was not complied with by DSS.

Mohammed stated that Mamu was allowed access to his physician only once, when a report of comprehensive medical examination on him was submitted to the DSS.

He alleged that since the submission of the report, Mamu’s physician had not been allowed to access him and that he needed urgent surgical operations in any hospital in the county.

The lawyer further claimed that Mamu’s health had since deteriorated and that he might lose his life any moment if he was not moved out of DSS custody to Kuje prison.

He promised regular attendance at the trial on the terrorism charges, adding that he could only stand trial when alive.

There was a mild drama during the proceeding, when a federal government lawyer, David Kaswe, who was billed to respond to Mamu’s request, suddenly disappeared in the courtroom without any excuse or notification.

The situation forced the court to stand down the proceeding for over one hour, yet the prosecution counsel did not show up.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who expressed shock over the lawyer’s attitude to the court, said, “I am aware that the prosecution counsel was in this courtroom this morning.

“The miracle of his disappearance is, however, beyond my understanding. This court stands on the side of justice and the antics of the prosecution will be tolerated for today’s proceeding only.”

Ekwo, however, invoked the rule of the court and ordered that the processes filed by the lawyer against Mamu’s application be deemed adopted.

The judge subsequently fixed May 20 for ruling on whether to move the defendant out of DSS custody to Kuje prison or not.

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