‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja
DAILY COURIER – The polity had been alarmed by the level of misinformation and disinformation in the past few days especially by some of the established traditional media platforms leading to the forthcoming general election.
The new normal often referred to as fake news use to be in the realms of the social media where citizen journalists who operate in a no controlled environment write and spread information without following the strict editorial principles guiding media practitioners in the broadcast or print media.
However, the fear is due to the brazen abuse of broadcast and print guidelines by some popular broadcast and print media platforms in spreading misinformation and disinformation for the highest bidder.
In a quick swap at some of the more established media platforms which some analysts have term partisan, the spokesperson of Tinubu, Mr Bayo Onanuga in terse statement wrote: “All those people, including Arise TV, BusinessDay and Channels TV spreading fake news and assassinating the character of Asíwájú Tinubu will meet us in court sooner than later. You have all thrown professionalism and objectivity to Jabi Lake because you are playing the script of your master puppeteers, Atiku and Peter Obi. The height of your shenanigans today was the wide use of a fake INEC statement. Shame on you all. See the INEC denial below.”
“A Press Release purported to have been issued by the Commission has been trending online since yesterday Friday 11th November 2022. It claims that the Commission has commenced investigation into a case of criminal forfeiture against one of the Presidential candidates in the forthcoming General Election and is liaising with a Court in the United States of America in pursuit of same to determine possible violation of our guidelines or the Electoral Act 2022.
We wish to state categorically that the said Press Release did not emanate from the Commission nor is it pursuing the purported course of action. It is the handiwork of mischief makers and utterly fake.
Press Releases from the Commission are uploaded to the INEC Press Corps platform and simultaneously disseminated through our website and official social media handles.
The public is advised to ignore the Press Release.”
The purveyors of the fake news forged the letterhead of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the signature of its national commissioner, Festus Okoye.
The forged statement purportedly issued by INEC was disseminated to deceive the public that INEC was investigating allegations against Asiwaju Tinubu, APC Presidential candidate.
While one is not in any way surprised by the antics of politicians. What is shocking was how quickly some established media organisations gulped the falsehood, hook, line and sinker, without attempting to verify.
The question in the minds of the public is why they did so. Why throw overboard every known virtue of ethical journalism and professionalism to broadcast a non scoop?
Fake INEC Statement: Arise TV apologises to Tinubu
Meanwhile, Arise Television has apologised to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The TV station issued an apology after it reported that INEC has commenced an investigation into a case of criminal forfeiture against Tinubu.
The TV station had publicized a forged letter, which claimed that INEC was investigating allegations that will ultimately lead to the disqualification of the APC Presidential candidate.
However, INEC in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, described the report as the handiwork of mischief makers.
In a retraction on Sunday, the Management of Arise TV apologised for broadcasting the fake statement.
The TV station said: “Of criminal forfeiture of funds, linked to narcotics, smuggling conspiracy and money laundering against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we Arise News that carried the news, which is now been denied by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), apologize most sincerely to the APC presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the earlier broadcast.”
Credible journalism can influence credible elections – Danbatta
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that the media holds the ace in making a difference in promoting credible elections in Nigeria as the campaigns and build-up to the 2023 general elections thicken.
Danbatta told the gathering of the Nigerian editors at the 18th All-Nigeria Editors Conference, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) at the Concord Hotels in Owerri, Imo State, with the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, in attendance, where he reiterated the importance of the roles of the journalists, before, during and after the 2023 elections.
In Danbatta’s goodwill to the conference, delivered by the Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Reuben Muoka, he expressed the confidence that the vibrant Nigerian media, credited with its sterling performance from the history of struggle for the country’s political independence, where Nigerian nationalists, who were good journalists made “brilliant and courageous outing”, will work in the interest of the nation.
Speaking to the theme of the conference, “2023: Political Landscape, Credible Elections and the Role of the Editors”, Danbatta declared that good journalism is critical to sustainable democratic culture as political stability is enhanced by conduct of successful elections.
He said he “believes the editors will leave the conference with resolutions setting clear, unambiguous and very robust parameters to guide the role of the media in the forthcoming elections in a fair, objective and balanced manner.
“Beyond and above the traditional routine role of the media in information-sharing, education and entertainment, the media is a social agency constitutionally charged to watch those of us in public office from derailing from the pursuit of the social contract and the social good. No other agency of the civil society is so positioned to influence social progress,” he declared.
In all of these, the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, (BON) had been silent which leaves much to be desired. Segun Tomori, a journalist opined that or else serious sanction is meted on a few of these media houses to scape goat the blatantly unprofessional platforms this trend of misinformation and disinformation may grow monster towards the general election in February, 2023.