ECOWAS Police Chiefs have attributed the misuse of social media in recent times as a major trigger to post-election crisis.
To this end, they recommend that Electoral Commissions should announce results within the shortest time to avoid inconsistencies in announcing fake results on social media.
The Police Chiefs made their position known during discussions on “Security Forces and Inclusive, Peaceful Democratic Elections in the ECOWAS Region Consolidation” at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament High-level Seminar in Winneba, Ghana.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), in Ghana, George Dampare said that announcements of results on social media makes citizens to doubt the integrity of the electoral process when it does not favor them.
“With social media, people start dishing out results that compromise the integrity of the whole election process in the form of fake news if I may use that word. He noted.
“That period becomes so critical, and therefore, if there is no clear timeline for the official announcement of results, then the space is given for anybody to fill in anything then apprehension.
“Then tension develops to a level that affects the very survival of the country in terms of what is going to happen next.
“So in that context, we also do our best to provide security at that political parties office, commission and any other place we consider to be vulnerable at that time. Dampare said.
Similarly, Sierra Leone’s IGP, Ambrose Sovula recommended that ECOWAS should fashion out modalities to regulate the misuse of social media platforms, especially as it relates to announcement of election results.
Soluva noted that the social media was designed to bring development but unfortunately, it is being used by some people to destroy peace.
“This social media thing is being misused; it is being created for us to be developed but today we are using it to destroy the gains we have made, We should look at it on the ECOWAS level to see how this can be addressed”.
”Election will be on and social media has already announced the result and both parties will be celebrating. So when one result differs from the other, in the end they will dispute the results,” Mr Soluva said.
Mr Soluva noted that no matter the situation, the police remain the solution to the problem, especially as it relates to internal security.
He noted that the Police as far as internal security is concerned must be in charge.
“The police work with the community because we are trained with the community, we are trained to accept criticism from communities without response,” Soluva said.
Reporting by Idara Ukpanyang; Edited by Adeniyi Bakare