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Fake News Now A Major Manipulation Strategy During Elections —INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says election disinformation is now a major strategy to manipulate the public.

Kunle Ajayi, INEC national commissioner and member, information and voter education committee, spoke on Monday at a two-day capacity building workshop.

The workshop was put together to enhance the capacity of the INEC press corps on ethical and safe practices ahead of the off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi.

The workshop is holding at Kini Country Guest Inn, Akwanga, Nasarawa state.

Ajayi said the commission’s experience with fake news in the 2023 general elections has shown that, if not nipped in the bud, disinformation can become the bane of election management in Nigeria.

“Disinformation is used to provoke religious, political, and tribal sentiments in an already polarised society such as ours, especially, during election season, which is often the leading cause of electoral violence and uprisings,” he said.

“Election-related disinformation has become a major strategy used by nefarious individuals and groups in the political space to manipulate the general public to their advantage, regardless of the consequential effect such propaganda may have on the peace and stability of the electoral process and the country at large.”

The commissioner appealed to the media to be objective and unbiased in their reporting and avoid fake, inflammatory, and sensational news.

He said this would enshrine an environment where the electorate feel safe and free to come out to exercise their franchise on election day.

“The press must commit to delivering thorough, verified, and unbiased information, pulled from credible sources to the public,” he said.

“At the same time, they must refrain from reporting information that encourages divisions or antagonistic discussions, which are likely to incite violence or endanger social life.

“On our part as an electoral body, we will remain transparent in all our activities and consequently communicate all relevant information to the media.”

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