FactCheck Africa Trains Freelancers, Campus Journalists on Fact-checking, Launches FactChecking AI-Tool


By Ismaila Biliaminu Manne

The Attendees of the Workshop

After lodging for several opportunities to learn FactChecking, Toheeb Babalola now found a reason to smile, one can tell the overwhelming joy with the look on his face as he was shortlisted to attend the Ibadan Fact-checker and Digital Rights Media Workshop, organized by FactCheck Africa of Brain Builder Youth Development Initiative, a nonprofit organization, and an independent fact-checking platform, with the focus to produce fact-check reports around electoral activities, issues in government, accountability, climate and conflicts in Africa.

FactCheck Africa trained over 80 Campus Journalists, Freelance Journalists, and mainstream Journalists in Nigeria, on countering fake news and media literacy, held on Friday, 16th February 2024, at Mahogany Hotel and Suites in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

The workshop, which kick off with the opening remarks of the Executive Director of the Brain Builder Youth Development Initiative, was facilitated by renowned journalists in Nigerian media ecosystem and explored the participants on the “Media Ethics and Professional Standard in Journalism; Demystifying the Freedom of Information Act; Understanding the Basics and Importance of Fact-checking in Journalism; Research and FactCheck Africa Research Samples; FactCheck Style,” and the  launch of a Fact-checking tool “myAIfactchecker.”

Launching FactChecking Tool

The freelance journalist Toheeb Babalola, in his mid-20s, now has a reason to smile for being selected to participate in a fact-checking training after all the trials. “After lodging several applications to fact-checking organizations months ago, I wasn't shortlisted. Surprisingly, within weeks of FactCheckAfrica's application, I was selected and finally attended my first-ever fact-checking workshop. Though I have knowledge of fact-checking before, but, I haven't attended its physical workshop,” Mr Toheeb told this Reporter.

He furthered that the FactCheck Africa Workshop is nothing but a problem-solving program in combating malicious statements and visuals in the public domain. “It was an eye-opening event for me. Because it makes the work of us (Journalists) easier. I wish to explore more fact-checking workshops in the near future,” he said.

More Participants Reacts

Fortunately, Toheeb Babalola is not alone, there are over 80 participants in the workshop. Like Mr Toheeb, Lawal Taiwo Moruf is another participant and a student of the University of Ibadan, who told this Reporter that the workshop is timely. because, in recent times, the peaceful information ecosystem has been disrupted by the spread of unverifiable claims, fake reports, and misleading facts, which has led to causing fear and unrest nationwide.

From a session of the workshop, Mr Taiwo Moruf, who learned the importance of verifying information before disseminating it, developed an interest in holding leaders to account, with the zeal to request information from public institutions using the Freedom of Information Act.

“The most important aspect of the workshop that stood out for me was the demystification of the FOI (Freedom of Information) Act. The facilitator of the session actually piqued my interest in holding the government and public institutions accountable. Now, I can boldly request any information or clarification from the government and public institutions not only as a journalist but as a citizen of Nigeria.

The Attendees with their certificates

“Also, I have learned that I should subject every information that comes to me to a thorough verification through the use of Fact-checking tools before I can have a firm belief in it and share it across. Not only that, I have also learned that I could subject any controversial claim to fact-checking in order to debunk or affirm the claim,” Mr Taiwo Moruf said.

Speaking with another participant, Ugbor Ruth Enang, a freelance volunteer with NGOs on Advocacy matters, of expressing her reactions for being selected to participate in the workshop, “I was carefully selected by FactCheck Africa to attend this one-day training on fact-checking, to me the workshop was an eye-opener on how to combat the raising spread of misinformation that is a major threat to our democracy today,” Miss Ruth said and furthered that the training has helped her to always factcheck (verify) any information through MyAIfactchecker personal news authentication.

In an interview with another participant, Ghazali Ibrahim, a Campus Journalist and Freelancer, narrated that he has been attending training on fact-checking and media literacy for a quite number of times but the Ibadan factcheck workshop was different in the sense that the facilitator brought to trained the participants are versatile in the field of fact-checking. 

"They are advocates of anti-fake news campaigns and each of them treats the topics given judiciously. Though I knew how FOI requests work before, but, my knowledge was widened on the act itself during a session with Michael Olatunbosun of Splash FM." Ghazali expressed that he learned a lot from each session and also contributions from fellow campus journalists made the workshop a memorable one.

Organizers React

In an interview with the Project Manager, Habeeb Adisa, narrated that the training is one of the intensive training the organization aims to do and has held several sensitization programs in different states, “it's part of the intensive efforts to curb misinformation pollution that we have in Nigeria. We held some sensitization programs at Kwara State, Gombe State, and others, and it's still going on. We had something like this when we started as FactCheck Election and after the training, we got some participants who returned with us, and some who didn't return.”

“But this one, we are trying to make it a bigger effort by bringing in people from other states apart from Ibadan to train them on Fact-checking, so that they would be an advocate outside and able to talk about Fact-Checking for people to know about FactCheck. The participants of this training were selected based on the submission they made, and I'm very sure that this would have a big impact on misinformation and fighting against misinformation,” said the project manager.

Also, speaking with one of the organizers of the workshop, Mustapha Lawal, expressed that the primary aim of organizing the workshop is to spread the gospel of Factchecking and select champions of FactCheck in different communities. That, this is just the means to an end, “which meant to train people that would go back to their respective communities within Ibadan and its nearby areas of everywhere they came from and train other people and spread the gospel on the importance of cogent and essential FactCheck is, at this time,” Mr Lawal said.

Nurah Jimoh, Executive Director of BBYDI

In a WhatsApp chat with the executive director of the Brain Builder Youth Development Initiative, Nurah Jimoh, the Ibadan Fact-Checker workshop was birthed as the result of the challenges being faced in combating information pollution which has pervaded the digital landscape, “as a youth-led and youth-focused organization, this is why we targeted mass communication students, campus journalists, freelance journalists and other young key players in the media space. 

Miss Nurah furthered that they understand the role fact-checking plays in the pursuit of credible news reporting, and also recognized that the ability to discern fact from fiction is a very important skill and as well a civic duty, and “it is on this note that we organized the workshop to adequately equip the participants with the skill of fact-checking. The overall aim is to achieve a society where fact will always triumph over fiction,” Miss Nurah told this Reporter.

Mr Lawal urged the participants to practice what they learned, and “For every participant, I look forward to seeing them doing wonders in the Fact-checking world, being a champion of Fact-checking initiatives and also urging people to spread the gospel of media literacy, and ensuring the spread of FactCheck itself so that others can also be in the system.”


Adekunle Famuyiwa

An avid writer, campus Journalist, researcher and budding Lawyer. Currently a 500-level student of Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, and the Editor-In-Chief of Observers Mag

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