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Kogi Election: CDD West Africa trains 25 Factcheckers to counter disinformation



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By Ishaq Dan-Imam, Lokoja

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa) has trained twenty five (25) Fact-checkers called ‘Soldiers of Mouth’ to counter disinformation in November 11 Governorship election in Kogi state, north-central Nigeria.

The CDD Factcheckers at the 3-day intensive training of the ‘Soldiers of Mouth’ held at Edgedrive Hotel, Lokoja, from 18th to 20th October, 2023, were exposed to the trends in the social media circle as the training identified insecurity, information gap, intra and inter-party conflict, partisan inclination of bad actors in the cyber space, religious and ethnic biases of the internet users as the key drivers of disinformation in the social media ecosystem.

The CDD had earlier carried out information assessment in the state to find out the degree of disinformation (Fake News), ahead of the election with a view to countering disinformation during and after the governorship election in Kogi state.

In a message, the Executive Director of CDD West Africa, Idayat Hassan, represented by Mr. Armsfeel Ajanaku, said the CDD West Africa with the support of its partners, was unrelenting in its commitment to fighting disinformation with a view to reducing incidence of fake news, which is a recurrent threat to information integrity in Kogi state particularly in the build up to the forthcoming November 11 off-season elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.

The CDD executive director said early warning was key to countering the phenomenon of disinformation as she called on stakeholders to ensure early monitoring of fake news.

According to Ms. Hassan, CDD is coordinating the factchecking structure as it has finalized strategies towards disseminating factchecks on Kogi election on various platforms to reduce incidence of fake news.

“Disinformation and the weaponization of fake news in Nigeria, and across the West African sub-region have had serious implications for the credibility of the electoral process. Information disorder is similarly threatening the social fabric of multi-ethnic societies across the African. The threats posed by fake news, misinformation, and disinformation have also affected historically marginalized groups, especially in terms of their participation in the political process.

” Particularly, the plight of women who already face real political participation barriers has been further accentuated by the dangers posed by fake news, misinformation, and disinformation. The gendered dimensions of fake news were on display during the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections, especially in the light of identity-driven violence, which undermined the participation of several groups. Disinformation has been identified as a key driver in some of the reported cases of violence against women participating in the political process, either as voters or candidates. While the problem is not new, the ongoing manifestations are particularly challenging, given the scope of the manipulation, the ease with which information can be shared, the diversity of techniques adopted to do so, and the proliferation of actors — individuals, partisan actors, and influencers at the level of the communities.

Ms. Idayat said the involvement and coordination of electoral stakeholders were important to expanding the base of information gathering, fact-checking, and dissemination of fact-check reports. According to Idayat, CDD in partnership with other fact-checking organizations has set up the Nigeria Fact-checking Coalition (NFC) to provide training to ramp up the skills of key stakeholders including those at the community level, where access to information could be daunting given challenges in information and communication infrastructure.

This she said was the reasoning behind the innovation of the soldiers of mouth in the context of the Nigerian off cycle elections.

The soldiers of mouth role, according to the CDD chief executive, focuses on wide networks of the ‘Soldiers of Mouth’ in local communities to counter all shades of disinformation, especially those forms, which undermine the credibility of the electoral process.

The CDD urged social media companies to take down false contents, and stressed the need for increase in advocacy by stakeholders to stem the tide of ‘cyber stalking’ and called on the stakeholders to increase digital literacy among Nigerians.

The Nigeria Police, a stakeholder in the CDD factchecking strategy, was represented by the police public relations Officer in the state police command, SP William Aya, who expressed concerns on the circulation of fake press releases on the social media with intent to mislead the public. SP Aya, called on social media users in the state to factcheck before sharing information on social media, warning ‘malicious actors’ of disinformation to desist from creating tension especially during the upcoming Governorship election in Kogi State.

Kogi State Coordinator of CDD, Mr. Ben Reuben Joshua, implored the ‘Soldiers of Mouth’ to wage war against online and Offline disinformation and mutation of data on the social media as they as the soldiers of mouth trained to monitor and debunk claims in the cyber space that could threaten peace in their various Communities in line with the objectives of the training. Mr. Joshua, urged the CDD Factcheckers to approach the assignment with diligence, commitment and vigour as he described the task of the Factcheckers as a self-sacrifice necessary for information integrity in Kogi state and Nigeria, while urging the Factcheckers to ensure timely verification of claims on the conduct of Kogi election as he called on INEC, Police and other election stakeholders to proactive disclosure of information to the public for common good of society.

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KONGONET condemns violent attack on Kogi REC, calls for investigation




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***Says, attack senseless, reprehensible, affront to democracy.

By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.

KOGI NGOs Network (KONGONET) has condemned in strong terms, the Friday morning attack on the residence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi state, Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet.

In a statement signed by Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairperson KONGONET, made available to newsmen on Friday in Lokoja, the Network described the attack as senseless, reprehensible and an attack on democracy.

“We, the members of Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET), express our utmost condemnation and outrage over the heinous and senseless attack on the residence of the REC of Kogi State, perpetrated by unidentified gunmen in Lokoja.

“This reprehensible act of violence against a public servant is not only an attack on the individual but also an assault on the democratic principles that underpin our society.

“The Resident Electoral Commissioner will play a crucial role in ensuring transparent electoral litigation processes as the head of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kogi State.

“Targeting such a key figure is an affront to the integrity of our electoral process and an attack on the democratic fabric of our nation.

“We demand that the authorities take immediate action to bring the perpetrators of this despicable act to justice”, he said.

Muraina urged security agencies to conduct a thorough and diligent investigation into the attack on the residence of the REC saying it was imperative that the actors behind the heinous act were swiftly identified and brought to justice.

The KONGONET Chairperson noted that an attack on a public official entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring free, fair, and credible elections was an attack on the very foundation of our democracy.

“We call upon the security agencies, particularly the police and relevant investigative bodies to allocate the necessary resources and expertise to thoroughly investigate this incident.

“It is crucial that no stone is left unturned in uncovering the truth and apprehending those responsible for this senseless act of violence.

“The residents of Kogi State and Nigerians at large deserve to know the truth behind this attack. We demand a transparent and unbiased investigation that leaves no room for doubt or suspicion.

“KONGONET reiterates its commitment to the principles of justice, accountability, and transparency. We stand firmly against any act of violence that seeks to disrupt the democratic process and undermine the peace and stability of our state”, he said.

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Thugs loyal to Gov Yahaya Bello behind attacks on Kogi REC, Kogi SDP alleges




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The Muri/Sam Campaign Council under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has condemned the assassination attempt on Dr. Hale Gabriel Longpet, the INEC Resident Commissioner for Kogi state.

The Campaign Council and the party allegea1d that the attack was carried out by thugs loyal to Governor Yahaya Bello.

In a statement issued by Isaiah Davies Ijele, the Director of New Media of the council acknowledged thatthe timely intervention of the Army, prevented potential tragedy.

The Council called for thorough investigation to fish out those involved in the assault on the INEC Resident Commissioner.

The Council also demanded swift action from the Kogi State Commissioner of Police, urging impartiality and caution against targeting SDP members over the incident.

The statement reads:

”We strongly condemn the assassination attempt on the INEC Resident Commissioner for Kogi state, Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet, which took place in Lokoja at approximately 2:00 am this morning, December 1st, 2023. The attack was carried out by thugs who are loyal to Governor Yahaya Bello.

”Election should not be treated as a war, nor should it be a matter of life and death. If the election was won fairly and transparently, then the legal process should be allowed to run its course without interference.

”However, it is unacceptable for thugs, in their high numbers yesterday, to be subject to fake protests, insisting that, on no account should forensic teams be allowed to do their jobs.

”We are grateful for the timely intervention of the Army, as the man and his family could have been wiped out overnight. The attackers also burnt his vehicles and took other valuables. This kind of behaviour is not acceptable in a democratic society.

”Those individuals who have been involved in these attacks on INEC REC must be held accountable for their actions. We call for all those who have been involved in the protests, inciting violence and making provocative statements, to be apprehended and brought to justice.

”The Kogi State Commissioner of Police Bethrand Onuoha must carry out his duties by arresting the culprits and holding them accountable. We also urge the Commissioner of Police to refrain from victimizing loyal members of SDP and focus on finding the actual offenders.

”We stand with Dr. Longpet and his family during this difficult time, and we will continue to work towards a peaceful and transparent electoral process.

”Murtala Yakubu Ajaka and his Party SDP are not protesting anywhere around the nation as we are already in court to seek redress, and as such; we call on Commissioner Bethrand Onuoha to arrest those protesters in the name of SDP and its Candidate Murtala Yakubu Ajaka if he’s an accomplice of the protest.”

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Attack on Kogi REC: APC calls for immediate arrest of SDP candidate, Ajaka




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BY Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Campaign Council in Kogi state has called on the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to immediately effect the arrest of Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governorship candidate in the just concluded November 11 off-cycle election.

In what it described as the slide into anarchy in the state, the APC Campaign Council, said Ajaka and his supporters allegedly masterminded the attack on the residence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lokoja in the early hours of Friday.

Mr Kingsley Femi Fanwo, Director of Media and Publicity/Spokesperson for the Campaign Council, Kingsley Fanwo, who made the allegations at an emergency press briefing on Friday, said SDP was trying desperately to cover the “heist committed in Kogi East” in corrupting INEC documents.

The APC Campaign Council said the attack was perpetrated days after it alerted the nation of plans of SDP thugs to attack INEC.

“The same arsonists also had an attempt to burn down the Kogi State Government House foiled by our eagle-eye security agents. The same attempt was foiled at the State APC Secretariat in Lokoja.”

“They have finally done their worst by attacking the residence of the Kogi State INEC Commissioner, engaging security agents in a fierce gun battle and eventually burning down some vehicles in the residence and in the area.”

The Campaign Council alleged that the SDP candidate and his “collaborators” were attempting to corrupt certain documents in INEC before handing them to their legal team.

“We have no problem allowing legal teams to access documents and materials. It is the norm. But we won’t allow any desperate blood thirsty politician tamper with the true verdict of the Kogi people.

“The bold-face criminality being perpetrated by the defeated SDP candidate and his violent gang of criminals was as a result of the lack of consequences over the gruesome killing of an APC supporter, Khadijat, at Kotonkarfe by agents of the SDP. They had imported thugs from neighbouring states into Kogi.

“They shamelessly came out to say Khadijat was bearing an arm. Till date, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka and his gun welding killers have been moving freely on the streets.

“If they had been arrested for killing an innocent woman, they wouldn’t have had the gut to attempt to attack the Kogi Resident Electoral Commissioner.

“We also told the world of plans by the SDP to burn down the INEC Office in Lokoja. We thank the Police and other security agencies for protecting the INEC Office.

“Frustrated by the watertight security around INEC, the gun throttling SDP criminals went to the residence of the Kogi State INEC Commissioner in an attempt to kill him.

“They were engaged in a fierce gun battle and they resorted to burning vehicles and other valuables around the area.

“After their violent protests a few days ago, our people have also moved to Lokoja to ensure their mandate is protected. Resorting to assassination and arson will never help the Social Democratic Party and their confused candidate”, he said.

Fanwo said now was the right time to arrest Ajaka before “he throws Kogi into a state of anomie. Democracy is the expression of the wishes of the people. Those wishes have been expressed and no amount of bullets can silence the voice of the ballot.

“We are calling on the Police, DSS and other security agencies to immediately arrest the slide to anarchy by arresting Muritala Yakubu Ajaka and his co-swimmers in the pool of violence.

“We have cautioned our supporters to remain calm and the call will be more effective if the anarchists are immediately apprehended and prosecuted”, Fanwo said. (Ends)

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