Fake news on social media threatened 2019 polls –INEC

 Fake news on social media threatened 2019 polls –INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed concerns about the scourge of fake news, especially on the social media, saying the trend posed a threat during the just concluded 2019 general elections.

The National Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, said on Thursday that the trend was a serious concern despite the accreditation of 2,131 journalists to cover the 2019 general elections.

Giving the breakdown, he said 1,799 journalists from more than 150 domestic media organisations in Nigeria and 332 journalists from 52 foreign media organisations from the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia, were accredited.

Yakubu, who spoke during a meeting with the media in Abuja to review the 2019 general elections, said the commission would continue to partner the media in the pursuit of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

At the event, a National Commissioner and Chairman of Planning, Monitoring and Strategic Committee, Dr Mustapha Lecky, expressed concern over what he described “the scourge of social media.”

Lecky called on the mainstream media to reposition by assisting the electoral process and democracy to save the country from the dangerous trend.

Lecky regretted that whereas the new media platforms were supposed to provide avenues and possibilities for participatory citizenship, information and knowledge sharing, inclusion and empowerment, “the reverse is increasingly the case, as people resort the social media as their main source of information.”

“I often wonder how mainstream media are able to stay afloat. This development did not spare our electoral process leading to the 2019 general elections.

“There is no question that responsible journalism is a prerequisite for the success of our electoral process and stable democracy. Mainstream media needs to reposition to help our electoral process and democracy fights off the scourge of social media.”

Stating the objectives of the meeting, Yakubu said it was to re-examine the entire process with a view to consolidating the successes and establishing a template that would address the challenges.

According to him, the live coverage on television, radio, online newspapers and other platforms as well as the subsequent incisive analysis of issues in newspapers are a demonstration by the media that Nigeria comes above all else.

“The purpose of this meeting, therefore, is to discuss all the salient aspects of the process which require improvement.”

The National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, called on INEC to establish a working relationship with NUJ in the areas of accreditation.

According to him, the NUJ, through such relationship, would be able to assist INEC solve its challenges of accrediting fake journalists for election coverage.

The acting Executive Secretary of Nigerian Press Council, Dr Victor Egharevba, advised journalists involved in information dissemination to “always consider fairness, accuracy, and objectivity in their reportage of any election events.”

Ayomide Oyewole

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