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Peaceful Elections: Journalists Urged To Commit To Countering Disinformation

Journalists have been urged to collaborate effectively to counter the scourge of dis/misinformation and stay committed to promoting peaceful elections.

The charge was made by speakers at the webinar on ‘Safeguarding Democracy: The Media and Role of Fact Checking in Peaceful Elections’ organized by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) as part of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance (EU-SDGN II) project.

In his welcome remarks, Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of CAPPA said the media plays a critical role on how people perceive elections, and whether it is peaceful or not, and it is important to highlight the role of the media in disseminating accurate information, to ensure peaceful elections.

Oluwafemi said “this conversation is coming at a time we are preparing for off cycle elections, at a time that people begin to manipulate public communication using the digital media. Those materials find their ways into mainstream traditional media causing backslash from the society.”

Oluwafemi charged journalists “to produce factual, authentic and credible information to ensure peaceful elections, and to be able to get the right leaders into the office.”

In her presentation, Ms Blessing Oladunjoye, Publisher of BONews Service, who said disinformation is human rights issue explained that when dis/misinformation spreads, it can cause harm to a range of human rights issues including the right to free and fair elections.

She explained that “Article 25, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] states that for an election to be free and fair, voters need to have accurate information about the parties, candidates and o Undermining trust in democratic institutions.

The BONews Service Publisher buttressed that the impact of misinformation could be grievous in some instance some other times, it could be minimal, adding that “misinformation can influence voter behavior and decision-making.

“It can create polarization and social unrest and incorrect information may influence the way that Individuals vote.”

She recommended that media organizations should “invest in fact-checking initiatives and training for journalists, encourage transparency and accountability in media reporting, foster media literacy among the public to discern credible sources from misinformation; and strengthen collaborations among journalists and CSO groups.”

Speaking on the importance of factchecking to ensuring peaceful elections, Journalist and Factchecker, Adesola Ikulajolu said “factcheck gives us a leverage to have the right information.”

He highlighted the ways the public can discern and identify misinformation from facts, adding that peddlers of fake news usually leverage on the biases of the readers.

Mariya Mariya Shuaibu Suleiman, journalist with Bayero University Kano (BUK) TV/Radio also noted that the citizens have a responsibility to verify the information they consume, as some people would prefer to consume misinformation over the truth.



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