The Anambra Commissioner of Police, Mr Echeng Echeng, has warned online media practitioners to guard against publishing unverified stories.
Echeng gave the warning against the backdrop of Sunday’s online report that an 11-year old boy was kidnapped at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Amansea, near Awka.
The report further stated that the kidnap took place during a fire outbreak that occured while Mass was going on in the church.
The warning is contained in a statement issued in Awka by the command’s Spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, and made available to newsmen on Monday.
The state police boss stated that investigations by the command revealed that no such incident happened.
He further argued that the claim that there was fire in the church was equally false.
“The claim of fire and kidnap incidents were not reported to the police.
“The circumstances surrounding the rescue of the acclaimed victim and how the said fire was put out without recourse to the relevant agencies were doubtful.
“A visit to the church premises showed that no fire of any such occurred and the church buildings are intact.
“It is obvious that the publisher’s intention was to create tension and undermine the peace we enjoy in the state,” he further stated.
Echeng, therefore, admonished online publishers and media practitioners to always bring professionalism to bear in their reportage.
According to him, investigative journalism is very necessary at the moment, especially in building social peace and enhancing public safety.
He assured Anambra people that the command would not joke with the confidence reposed in it in providing security.
He advised the residents not to live in fear but always trust that police are there to handle any security threats at all times.