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How to reduce violence in elections, by CAPPA

CAPPA logo | CAPPA Image

By Valentine Amanze

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), a Lagos-based civil rights group, has said that the easiest way of preventing electoral violence and improve citizens’ confidence in the electoral process was for journalists to fact-check their reports before publishing.

It also appealed to journalists to ensure adequate coverage of the off-circle elections in Ondo and Edo states by fact-checking their reports.

CAPPA gave the verdict during a webinar organised for journalists on ‘‘Safeguarding Democracy: The Media and Role of Fact-Checking in Peaceful Election,’’ which was funded by the European Union (EU).

CAPPA Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, appealed to journalists to always publish true and credible stories for posterity, stressing that non-credible reportage could cause chaos during and after an election.

 His words:: “For us, the media plays a critical role in how people perceive and react to elections. This conversation is coming at a time that two or three states are warming up for the governorship election and Ondo specifically is getting a little bit warmer on issues of election at a time that people begin to manipulate public communication through digital and social media.

CAPPA boss, Akinbode Oluwafemi | File Image

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“Sometimes some of those materials do find their way into the mainstream traditional media; causing serious back traps in our society. Again we have to look at our role in terms of journalists in ensuring that what we push out is authentic, factual and reliable.

“And most importantly, promote peaceful election in our country. How do we fact-check, cross-check and as we say in journalism, when you are in doubt, you leave out and to ensure that we get the right leaders into the political spaces in our country.”

Corraborating the CAPPA boss, one of the facilitators at the webinar, Blessing Oladunjoye, said that aside the mainstream media, social media plays a critical role in influencing voters and public opinion during elections.

She accused social media influencers, politicians and political parties of using ethnicity, and religion to spread misinformation via the social media during last year’s election.

She said: “Oftentimes, misinformation has gone far ahead before we can fact-check it and it is difficult for people who have already consumed misinformation to change their mind or perception. For us to have a free, fair and peaceful election there must be information to enable a voter to decide on whom he or she would want to vote for.

“So, whenever there is incorrect information it will influence the way an individual will vote. We are saying that sometimes, there could be elements of truth in misinformation but there is always an agenda behind every misinformation and disinformation which the people are not aware of at that particular point in time.”

Oladunjoye also advised journalists to undergo fact-checking training, while at the sametime collaborate on fact-checking, stressing, “one person cannot do it alone.

“Check before you spread because you don’t have to be a paddler of disinformation or misinformation as a journalist.

“And remember that misinformation thrives on our sentiments and biases.”

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