The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for enhanced cooperation with the media to combat the proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation, particularly in the context of electoral processes. INEC made this request in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, asserting that this collaboration would help reduce the spread of inaccurate information about the electoral procedures.
During a two-day capacity-building workshop for INEC Press Corps with the theme “Ethics, Safety, Practices, and Critical Issues Relating to the Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa governorship elections,” Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, delivered a presentation titled “Impact of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation on election information: INEC’s experience.”
Oyekanmi stressed that fake news and misinformation posed significant challenges during the conduct of the 2023 general elections and represented a threat to democracy. He noted that this issue was not confined to social media but also affected traditional media outlets.
There were instances where false information about topics such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, the collection of Permanent Voter Cards, and INEC staff recruitment circulated, as well as falsehoods related to ethnicity and the elections.
He pointed out that some journalists also fell prey to fake claims due to personal biases and sentiments, allowing fake news to be published without proper verification.
Oyekanmi emphasized that journalists have a fundamental responsibility to report facts objectively and accurately, without distorting information to fit specific narratives. He stressed the importance of presenting truthful and verifiable information to the public.
Oyekanmi called for a strong partnership between INEC and the media, emphasizing that such collaboration was essential to proactively combat fake news, disinformation, and misinformation.
He urged the media to adhere to the principles of being factual, objective, truthful, and fair in their reporting of electoral processes. He reassured the media that INEC would continue to provide them with the necessary information to support their work in ensuring free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections.