Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Nigerian Military and the Menace of Disinformation


By Gom Mirian 
Recently, a video footage of Major-General Olusegun Adeniyi , former theater commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, headquarters, Maiduguri of the Nigerian army reporting poor equipment went viral on social media.

 


Few days after the incident, Nigerian Army announced a replacement for Adeniyi after working for about seven months as theatre commander of Operation “Lafiya Dole”.


Following the incidence, so many Nigerians took to social media to claim that the reposting was in connection with the video.


However, contrary to the claims, some top Directors in the Nigerian military who spoke to DAILY ASSET cleared the air on the matter, saying that the redeployment of Adeniyi and others had nothing to do with the acclaimed video as some people were being misinformed.


One of the Directors, Major General John Enenche, Coordinator, Directorate of Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Abuja said the redeployment had nothing to do with the video, saying that it was a usual administrative process of the Nigerian Army.


He said, “It is an administrative procedure, routine procedure of the services, that is, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force.


” I am personnel of the Nigerian Army and I know about the tenure and conditions of postings and redeployments. After three months of any appointment you can swiftly be redeployed or posted that I can tell you.


“I am a living witness, it applies to me and that is one of the terms and conditions once you have spent up to three months you can be posted. So I don’t see any reason why people should be insinuating anything that they are saying, either from the conspiracy theory of whatever they call it.


“Somebody that has been there for about a year, if not more, I remember we were together here, so the concern is the conspiracy or anything it is not true regarding that posting. 
“Here I am , I was in this Headquarters, Army posted me as Director, Liaising Officer, National Assembly in January 2017, by March, I was posted as Director Defence Information, by December, I was posted Commander Army War College of Nigeria reported in February by December, I was posted to this headquarters as Director Technical Support Service by February, the posting was amended, Director Engineering services by October last year I was internally redeployed to combine DES with Coordinator Defence Media Operations Directorate, so will you say there is a conspiracy?  Not to allow Major General John Enenche to remain in one place?
“No conspiracy at all, even down to when I was a Brigadier General, I can tell you once you get to the rank of a General , you are very  swift, you are  very mobile ,you can even handle several appointments at the same time.
“Another typical example seating down in your front, am an external examiner, resource person army war college Nigerian, am by everything external examiners National Defence College, what will you talk about that? So that is the way it goes and from where he is posted to ,this is my own assessment you don’t post somebody who will not be useful to the system to army resource centre because where he is posted to is where you take our brains to go and put what there have seen ,experienced over years into practices into teaching. 
“So please, whatever you are hearing from people, the truth is that it is an administrative procedure, it is routine and posting is a regular process at our military secretary Departments of the Armed Forces.
“I want to stress that it is nothing conspiratorial as it is taken or presented”.


This is not the first time that people would be misinformed about a particular incidence that happened in the Nigerian military while it turned out the other way round. Prior to this, another video clip circulated in the social media of soldiers torturing civilians for violating the presidential directives on lockdown, due to the global coronavirus. 


Again, speaking on the issue, Enenche added that such were calculated attempts to blackmail the military. “I want to once again clarify that the viral videos trending online showing men in uniform are not genuine. 


“The general public should please disregard these videos and consider it as actions of mischief makers who intend to tarnish the good image, integrity and sterling achievement of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. 


Enenche further said that he has not been surprised by the use of online disinformation that has been encountered during the operations, including the use of doctored images and videos footage to support a fake story. 


He confirmed that the Armed Forces of Nigeria were aware of the potential dangers and prepared to deal with the challenges. 


No doubt, misinformation and disinformation are no longer new concepts but its speed and reach of social media in the ‘fake news’ era has given room to new potency to the threat as well as  forced military to grapple with the challenges and opportunities posed by the emerging editing technologies and mass communication tools. 


Misinformation is generally known as the inadvertent sharing of false information that is not intended to cause harm. On the other hand, Disinformation is widely defined as the purposeful dissemination of false information intended to mislead or harm. 


This includes authentic materials used in a deliberately wrong context to make a false connection, such as an authentic picture displayed with a fake caption, outright false information, shared through graphics, images, and videos. It could take the form of fake news sites or ones that are deliberately designed to look like well – known sites for the mere purposes of attaining greater audience and the messages conveyed through disinformation range from bias half – truths to conspiracy theories. 


Research has shown that fake stories reached over 1,500 people six times more quickly than a factual story.  
Such disinformation can pose significant challenges to military operations as commercially, available tools could enable adversaries to manipulate a photo or video to create a false impression that military have carried out a particular action, which may undermine their position in a local community. 


This presents obvious operational challenges and could increase dangers to personnel hence the need for both media and other citizens to verify information before disseminating it.

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