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Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai: Fake news fueling electoral violence

Valentine Chinyem

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said the increasing cases of electoral violence can be blamed on fake news.

Buratai spoke in Bayelsa State when he led military commanders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to inaugurate projects at newly-established barracks of the 16 Division of the Nigerian Army named Camp Buratai.

He said before the general elections, he launched Operation Safe Conduct to ensure the success of the poll and establish the Nigerian Army Situation Room to manage electoral events, including countering of fake news.

Buratai, who was represented by Maj-Gen. Adamu Saliu, the commander, Training and Doctrine Command, noted that terrorist and subversive elements were deliberately spreading fake news, using the social media to influence public sentiment, cause confusion and ignite violence.

The COAS said, “Just before the presidential and National Assembly elections, I launched the Nigerian Army Situation Room for real time managing of events during the 2019 General Elections.

“This decision was borne out of our previous unpalatable experiences occasioned by electoral violence which had now been made worse by fake news. At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose dangerous threat to both democratic process and military operations.

“Use of media, especially social media, to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all of us. Rapid spread of fake news had been responsible for misinformation, which has sowed confusion among the electorate.”

He added, “The purpose of the situation room is among others to monitor electioneering process through the cyber warfare command of the Nigerian Army which also identifies and counters various forms of fake news and propaganda put out by terrorist and subversive elements. We are collaborating with all stakeholders to confront the menace of fake news”.

Buratai insisted nothing would stop the army from playing its roles in combating security challenges in the country in line with its constitutional mandates.

He said the army deserved the support of all Nigerians in its efforts to keep the country together, adding that security agencies required timely information from the public to enable them deliver on their mandates.

The army boss described some of the inaugurated projects such as the quarter guard, the Integrated Medical Centre and 30-flat quarters donated by Belama Oil Producing as unique.

He said, “Let me congratulate the commander, officers and men of the brigade for their innovation and improvisation in the interpretation of my vision of the Nigerian Army which is to have a professionally responsible army in charge of its constitutional role.”

In his remarks, the General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Maj-Gen. Jail Sarham, said the brigade would assist in addressing security challenges in Bayelsa and in the Niger Delta region.