Nigerians have been warned to be wary of several online platforms claiming to be credible fact-checking platforms in the country.
Members of the Nigerian Fact-checkers’ Coalition (NFC) gave the warning on Thursday during a Twitter Space organized by FactsMatterNG in collaboration with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) while reacting to a statement on the proliferation of fact-checking platforms during Nigeria’s 2023 general election.
The theme of the event was: Fake News and Democratic Participation: Lessons and Projections from the 2023 elections.
Abdul Mahmud, a lawyer and social activist, had accused “politicians within their party frameworks, journalists and some fact-checking organizations of using ethnicity and religion as the basis of the information and fact-check content they dished out.”
“What I saw at play in the recent elections was that fact-checkers deliberately select certain politicians for the purpose of fact-checking and it was deep to the extent that Peter Obi became a figure of fact-checking in our country and the purport of the fact-checking was not driven for the purpose of unveiling truth,” Barrister Mahmud said.
Reacting to that, Opeyemi Kehinde, the Editor of FactCheckHub and a founding member of the Nigerian Fact-checkers’ Coalition (NFC) stated that there was an influx of online platforms who claimed to be doing fact-check contents regarding the elections.
He added that Peter Obi was the most fact-checked presidential candidate in the just concluded elections.
“This was due to the fact that Mr. Obi is very good at reeling out figures anytime he is in the public and most of the figures were accurate but the opposition always try to amplify checks where he was found to be inaccurate with facts and figures,” he explained.
Mr. Kehinde emphasized that Obi was forthcoming with information unlike other presidential candidates and this gave him the media visibility needed and also exposed him to be checked.
He stated that the NFC, which he coordinates, upholds the five code of principles of the International Fact-checking Network (IFCN) which are: Commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness; Commitment of Transparency of Sources; Commitment to Transparency of Funding and Organisation; Commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology; Commitment to Open and Honest Corrections Policy.
He reiterated that the coalition is led by three IFCN signatories which are the FactCheckHub, Africa Check and Dubawa, adding that all partner-organisations also subscribed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and other workflow processes that guide claims sourcing and our fact-checking process.
Also speaking, Caroline Anipah, a Deputy Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and member of the NFC, stated that some fact-checking organisations were setup by political parties during elections, noting that they operated as imposters using names similar to those of credible fact-checking organisations.
She encouraged audiences to “look for alternative source or receive information from multiple sources so that you’re not just influenced by any platform” if they notice constant attacks on political parties by such ‘fact-checking outlets’.
She added that the NFC which operates with the IFCN codes have a responsibility to be non-partisan, adding that “we try as much as possible to stay so.”
She charged media and online platforms interested in fact-checking to desist from partisan fact-checking, urging them to produce independent and non-partisan fact-checks at all times.