In this week’s newsletter, the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) examines the impact of disinformation on Africa’s democracy. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, many questions with regards to what will be the fate of digital rights and human rights have been raised.
For instance, many have wondered the level of influence the proliferation of disinformation in the ecosystem would have on the respect for digital and human rights by political leaders in Africa. Would Africa’s political leaders be emboldened to trample on these rights?
Several African countries have passed laws or are about to pass laws that will enable them to use ‘Fake News’ as an excuse to trample on democratic rights to freedom of expression. With the infodemic that came with the coronavirus pandemic, Africa, Nigeria especially may be on the path heading south towards totalitarianism. While this has sadly been one of the challenges to democracy in Africa on the skyline, COVID-19 may have made it worse. A challenge CDD have focused on addressing through her countering disinformation and misinformation campaign.
Bill Gates And The Coronavirus Pandemic
From the beginning of the pandemic, the online space in Nigeria experienced an influx of claims that the coronavirus pandemic was a cover for a traceable microchip implementation plan and that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it.
With the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, speculation about a future coronavirus vaccine intensified with a news report published by Principia Scientific in December 2020, that claimed that US billionaire was caught on camera admitting that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine he (Bill Gates) is developing will permanently alter human genetic makeup – DNA. The video has been seen by thousands of viewers and shared widely online.
A review of the video shared by Principia Scientific for its claim shows that the clip was altered from a YouTube channel is now being shared among many Nigerians.
Fact-checkers at the CDD traced the authentic video of Bill Gates talking about vaccines on his blog, Gates Notes, and his YouTube channel. The video uploaded by the YouTube channels on Principia Scientific was doctored to exclude vital information from the original Gates’ video thus making it lack context. Read the full fact-check here
Joe Biden Never Ordered US Immigration To Issue E-Work, Residence Permit to Nigerians
A document circulating on social media including WhatsApp has claimed that the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, has ordered the issuance of electronic work (e-work) and residence permits for Nigerians.
The claim contained in a press statement purported to have emanated from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said that Biden has signed an executive order for Nigerians to get an e-work and residence permit.
The press statement also claimed that the presidential order was communicated to the Nigerian Commission in the US and the deadline for submission of the application is April 30, 2021.
A review of the official website of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that there is no press statement by the country on such a matter.
There was also no evidence the US President issued an Executive Order targeted specifically at Nigeria or her people.
REPORTS FROM CDD
SULH-ALHERI NE Replacing Evil with Something Better: Promoting Alternative Peacebuilding Narratives
Ecological Fund and the Cost of Corruption (A CDD Documentary)
CDD IN THE NEWS
March 24, CDD joined the world to observe the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The day is set aside to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice; pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all among others.
In continuation of the Sulhu Community Dialogue on Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in the North East, the CDD team visited Namtary and Dode Pate communities in Adamawa State. The dialogue promotes initiatives that resolve unaddressed grievances, supports forgiveness, healing and trust-building in the communities.