Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu has solicited the support of members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) for a serious battle against fake news.
Speaking today, October 6, at the 6th Annual Conference of the Guild in Lagos, Professor Mahmoud described fake news as “a threat to national security and all hands must be on deck to check it.
“GOCOP must lead a network or alliance of stakeholders to curb fake news engineered by unpatriotic individuals.”
The INEC commended members of the Guild for so far steered clear of fake news, adding: “we urge you to do more. GOCOP should come out strongly in the battle against fake news which is clearly a challenge to the electoral process going forward.
“We are happy to note that you have your peer review mechanism using your leaders to regularly remind every member of the need for credible journalism.
“This is highly commendable. We urge you extend this beyond GOCOP to serve as a bulwark against the menace of fake news.
“I wish to assure you that for us at INEC, the national interest comes first. We shall not pander to any partisan whims and caprices.
“We pledge to discharge our duties with the highest sense of responsibility and integrity.”
On the 2023 general elections, Professor Mahmoud reiterated that INEC would strictly monitor the campaigns by the political parties to ensure compliance with the laws.
“The Commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters. As a regulator, the Commission will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“We will pay particular attention to peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace.
“Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.
“As you are aware, election is a multi-stakeholder activity. As the Commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcome is the responsibility of all of us. As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player. We must continue to work together against the spread of fake new, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes.”
Professor Mahmoud said that the Commission cherished the support of the online media.
“We do not take our partnership with GOCOP for granted as a stakeholder and dependable ally in sustaining and deepening our democracy.”