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5 mins read A weekly newsletter that takes a closer look at the aspects of truth and falsehood in recent news topics. In an uncertain time, stay informed about the latest news and updates on coronavirus-related developments in Nigeria.

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Hiccups with INEC online registration breed fertile grounds for spread of false information

By Nanji Nandang, Silas Jonathan

Sometimes in June, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) kick-started an online voter registration process ahead of the 2023 elections. Since announcing its intentions to move the registration online, INEC has attracted applause from both experts and members of the general public who, in the past,  had stayed hours in long queues to get registered. 

INEC is now amending the narrative by choosing to carry out the online registration through a portal that was assured by the commission to be one size fits all.  The portal will allow for pre-registration for new voters and review of voter registration status for those who have registered in the past. The upgrade will also allow updates on basic voter information; relocation of polling units, and request for card replacements whether misplaced or damaged.

To some Nigerians who had experienced the misery of voter registrations in the past, all these features fused into may seem a breath of fresh air and a hot coffee served on a rainy cold morning. 

Nonetheless, the process does not end online. Citizens who have undergone the online registration are also expected to have their thumbprint taken at any INEC centre nearest to them. 

You could say it’s a great early start towards the 2023 general elections. But for the indigenes of Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun states, the registration is timely. INEC has already slated the Anambra State 2021 gubernatorial elections for November 6th; Ekiti State for June 18th 2022, while Osun State is slated for July 16th 2022.  

As you would have guessed already, voters in those states have taken the INEC online registration more seriously than citizens in other parts of the country.  Anambra State has already registered 8,624 persons on the portal, the highest so far while Osun State is in second place with 8,114 voters already registered.

Issues with the registration vulnerable to interpretations

Yet the voter online registration is not without its own controversies.  Some voters in those areas have accused INEC of nepotistic sidelining. That the commission has denied them access to register because of their regional and ethnic identities.  

A typical scenario was on Twitter, when a user, Anambra1stson (@UchePOkoye) accused INEC of denying him access to the portal to register, “INEC is still denying us access to register its population. They are yet to rectify this.” He complained in a tweet, attaching a screenshot of the failed process. 

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Tip of The Week

#FakeNewsAlert

There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

CLAIM: “Shocking! Bill Gates calls for the withdrawal of all Covid-19 Vaccines; “The vaccines are far more dangerous than anyone imagined” – The Maravi Post” 

SOURCE: Viral report on WhatsApp

This week came with an interesting claim that has been forwarded many times on WhatsApp. The viral report has it that Bill Gates is calling for the withdrawal of all covid-19 vaccines.  Why? Readers are expected to click on a provided link to find out details of the report.

Circulating almost at the same time with this report is a similar report but with a different Headline. While the first report’s headline says, “Shocking! Bill Gates calls for the withdrawal of all Covid-19 Vaccines; The vaccines are far more dangerous than anyone imagined”, the other report has “SATIRE – Bill Gates calls for the withdrawal of all Covid-19 Vaccines; “The vaccines are far more dangerous than anyone imagined” as its headline. This is a redflag!

Questions to ask yourself: How true are these reports? Are the two platforms credible? Which is the original report? 

What you should do: Verify before sharing further.

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