* When sensation replaces fact, the journalist must beware of potential misrepresentations
By Baba Ahmad
On Wednesday and Thursday, July 31st and August 1st 2019 respectively, Punch, Vanguard & Co ran an headline story such as: WAEC official disowns Buhari’s Certificate and similar others . The story is clearly intended to give the false impression that the WAEC official who gave evidence at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal took the view that President Buhari’s West African School Certificate (WASC) is fake.
For influential media organizations this deliberate or at best negligent misrepresentation is completely inexcusable.
The story goes on to say that the WAEC official claimed that the President’s Cambridge International WASC result was not issued by WAEC. Indeed, it was not. WAEC was not the examining/ issuing body, it was issued by Cambridge University (as testified to by Mr. Abba Kyari who went to Cambridge to get a hard copy of the results).
The WASC examination in 1961, when the President sat for the exam, was conducted by Cambridge University. This evidence was already before the tribunal and in the public domain.
Punch, Vanguard & Channels TV’s deliberate mischaracterization of the WAEC official’s answer is fraudulent. To use the word “disowns” suggests in particular that the certificate was one that was held out as having been issued by WAEC. That was clearly not the case. The official merely correctly confirmed that it was not issued by WAEC.
One would have thought that the Media Outfits of the stature, even if it could not intelligently follow the proceedings, would carry out its own independent investigations even from Cambridge University, all they need to do is to send a copy of the now available Certificate to that University to confirm its authenticity. The sly, deceitful, and patently false representations in the news story, on a matter that could be objectively interrogated completely discredits any claims that Punch, Vanguard & co may have to objectivity.
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