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Oloja, other stakeholders say fake news undermined 2019 polls

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Martins Oloja

Editorial Board member of The Guardian, Martins Oloja, and other stakeholders in the media have said that fake news, misinformation and interest of media owners sabotaged the 2019 general election.

During the post-election review parley between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and media practitioners in Abuja yesterday, the stakeholders stated that the ethical issues of false information, particularly by the social media, led to violence and reprisals in parts of the country during the polls.

According to them, the electoral commission must take charge of the social media by deploying human and material resources to counter information likely to mislead the public.

Oloja said false news became rampant during the poll due to the high manual labour employed by INEC, especially in transmission and collation of result.

“Whether we like it or not, social media has come to stay and we cannot kill it. What INEC must do is to also deploy technology to address the issue of fake news by reducing the level of manual labour in the election process. Result transmission and collation should not take more than 24 hours. This would reduce the suspicion involved in the process and help to address dissemination of fake information,” he said.

Oloja said the electoral umpire alone could not be blamed for the nation’s electoral woes, adding that the attitude of politicians who do not accept defeat contributed in undermining the process.

President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, urged INEC to collaborate extensively with the association to stop fake journalists from covering elections.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, commended the media for the extensive coverage of the poll, stressing that the 2019 election was the most covered in the country’s history.

Yakubu said the commission alone accredited 1,799 journalists from more than 150 local media organisations to cover election, adding that foreign media presence was also impressive.

“We had 332 journalists from 52 foreign media organisations from different parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia to cover the elections,” he added.


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