Yenagoa — The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said that the increasing cases of electoral violence can be blamed on fake news, noting that the menace poses grave danger to democratic process and military operations.
Buratai spoke at the weekend in Bayelsa State when he led military commanders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to inaugurate projects at the newly-established barracks of the 16th Division of the Nigerian Army named Camp Buratai.
He said before the general elections, he launched the Operation Safe Conduct to ensure success of the poll and established the Nigerian Army Situation Room (NASR) to manage electoral events including countering spread of fake news.
The Chief of Army Staff, represented by Maj.-Gen. Adamu Saliu, the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), noted that terrorists and subversive elements are deliberately spreading fake news using the social media to influence public sentiment, cause confusion and ignite violence.
He 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 experience 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 a 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 thereby having an influence on public sentiment and sow confusion among the electorate and easily ignite violence during elections as we have now.
"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 terrorists and subversive elements. In this period of elections, we are collaborating with all stakeholders to confront the menace of fake news."
Buratai insisted that nothing would stop the army from playing its roles in combating security challenges in the country in line with its constitutional mandates.
"Nigerian Army will continue to play its role in combating security challenges in the country in line with its constitutional mandates. I call on the good people of our nation to provide our men and women in uniform adequate support, especially giving timely information to enable them deliver on the mandate of Operation Safe Conduct as we go into the final lap of the 2019 general election," he said.
In his remarks, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6th Division, Port Harcourt, Maj.-Gen. Jail Sarham, said that the Brigade would assist in addressing security challenges in Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta region.
He commended the state government for its assistance in constructing some of the projects in the barracks and Aligbe for his leadership of the brigade, describing him as one of his exemplary commanders.