Misuse of social media, a trigger of post-election crises – ECOWAS Police Chiefs
Police Chiefs of some ECOWAS member countries on Friday lamented the misuse of social media which in recent times had become a major trigger of post-election crises.
They disclosed this during discussions on “Security Forces and Inclusive, Peaceful Democratic Elections in the ECOWAS Region Consolidation’’ at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament High-level seminar in Winneba, Ghana.
They recommended that Electoral Commissions announce results within the shortest time possible to avoid inconsistencies in fake results announcements on social media.
Ghana’s Inspector-General of Police, George Dampare, said that announcements of results on social media made citizens doubt the integrity of electoral processes when it does not favour them.
“With the social media, people start dishing out results that compromise the integrity of the whole election process in the form of fake news, if I may use that word.
“That period becomes so critical, and therefore, if there is no clear timeline for the official announcement of results, then the space is given for anybody to fill in anything.
“Then tension develops to a level that affects the very survival of the country in terms of what is going to happen next.
“So in that context, we also do our best to provide security at political parties’ offices, at the electoral commission and at any other place we consider to be vulnerable at that time.
“We ensure that the Electoral Commission does the needful as soon as possible,” Dampare said.
He noted that the police continued on policing the state, a month, two months or more, until it is satisfied with the situation, depending on the dynamics of the election.
Similarly, Sierra Leone’s Inspector-General of Police, Ambrose Sovula, recommended that ECOWAS finds a way to regulate the misuse of social media platforms, especially as it related to the announcement of election results.
Soluva said that social media was designed to bring development, but unfortunately, it was being used by some to destroy.
“This social media thing is being misused; it was created for us to develop, but today we are using it to destroy the gains we have made.
“We should look at it at the ECOWAS level to see how this can be addressed.
“Social media is used as a platform for incitement by ill-motivated individuals for political gains,’’ Soluva said.
He noted that no matter the situation, the police remained the solution to the problem, especially as it relates to internal security.
“No matter the election, the police are the solution to that problem. The police as far as internal security is concerned must be in charge,’’ Soluva said.