Coming on the heels of Saturday’s presidential election, the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has raised concerns over the danger posed by the spread of fake news by the media.
Buratai who made this known in a statement he personally signed, Wednesday, announced the launch of the Nigerian Army (NA) Situation Room for election monitoring.
The Army Chief said the Situation Room has been reconfigured for real-time monitoring of events during the 2019 General Elections.
According to him, the Nigerian Army had earlier launched OP SAFE CONDUCT which is one of the series of exercises undertaken by the NA to ensure the success of the 2019 General Elections.
Buratai stressed on the use of media, particularly, social media to spread fake news, saying that it not only poses a threat to the democratic process but also to military operations.
“At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous threat to both the democratic process and military operations. The use of media, especially social media to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.
“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby having an influence on public sentiment and sow confusion among the electorate or even easily ignite violence during the period of the 2019 General Elections.
“The NA through the Cyber Warfare Command has been continually engaged in monitoring, identifying and countering various forms of fake news and propaganda being put out by terrorists and subversive elements.
“However, in this period of the elections, there is need to collaborate with all stakeholders to confront the menace of fake news. I am happy to note that during my recent meeting with media executives, they pledged to partner with the NA on this issue,” he stated.
The chief also highlighted the need stem the tide of violence during or after the election. “It is pertinent to state that the post-election violence which characterized previous elections clearly highlights the challenges posed by incidents of electoral violence in the country. Hence, the NA saw the need to devise new strategies of stemming such ugly tides or completely eliminating same.
“Lessons learnt from previous election violence witnessed have categorized the nature or types of violence into 3 broad categories namely: pre-election violence, violence during elections and post-election violence.
“Violence at the various phases of elections include thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers or kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents and wanton destruction of lives and properties, respectively.
“Having observed this cycle of violence reoccur severally in our past electioneering processes, the NA has thus deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture that would allow us to better respond to early signs of insecurity before they could escalate into a major security challenge. It is in this light that the NA has launched OP SAFE CONDUCT and also gone ahead to establish this situation room for real-time monitoring”.
“To further enrich the quality of information during the election monitoring process, the NA would also partner with civil society election monitoring groups and other stakeholders. To this end the NA wishes to encourage the general public to please forward credible information of security importance via SMS, MMS or WhatsApp to the numbers provided.
“Additionally, the public could utilize the NA Information Call Center short code 193 from any Nigerian network or the NA iReport platform on https://army.mil.ng.
“Finally, I hope that our collective efforts would help ensure a smooth and secure conduct of the 2019 general elections. At this juncture, it is my honour to declare the NA Situation Room open. May God bless our beloved country and the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.