Summary: Fake news is increasingly used as a strategy to push forward agendas by inflaming tension and creating division among the target groups. Majority of the consumers of fake news do not fact check and take the fake news as facts creating a sense of false reality in which they can’t make informed choices and opinions.
There were images of a Guardian Post issue 2558 that had declared that the School lockdown had been 1000% successful in the “Ambazonia”. They further reported that in order for schools to resume, the President would have to dialogue with the “Ambazonia” leaders to either be part of a Federation or a break-away State if the dialogue failed to meet their demands. However, fact checking revealed that The Guardian Post Newspaper in its 2558 edition did not publish any article or articles stating that there had been 1000% effective lockdown across ”Ambazonia”. The newspaper circulated was doctored to mislead the readers and further the Secessionists’ agenda.
On 7th September 2022, ahead of the resumption of school for the 2022/2023 academic year, messages circulated on social media platforms such Facebook stating that schools should not resume in the two English speaking regions of the Country. It was also announced by the “Separatist fighters” that there will be total lockdown in the month of September. In this light, the “AMBA Breaking News” on Facebook published a “Guardian Post Newspaper” with a headline that stated that the “1000% EFFECTIVE LOCKDOWN IN DAY 2. Lockdown Totally Destroy School resumption forcing Biya To Must Dialogue With Ambazonia Leaders Before Schools Can Start in NW/SW”. https://www.facebook.com/100063583105591/posts/pfbid03kTYKxvDRGr2pQhTCyPEYz5do9roPyKecdR54WCiXo2rsgMYw682zdo3JBsxKDUfl/
The above circulated Guardian Post Newspaper” which stated “ 1000% effective lockdown” was a doctored version of the Guardian Post edition 2558 as on their official Facebook page edition 2558 was different. Its main headline story was “At all Ngoketunjia Peace Conference, Elite drum return to peace, effective schooling” in which a section of the Anglophone citizens were advocating for peace and resumption of students to schools. The true version is highlighted below;
In Cameroon, Web Journalists and bloggers are known for sharing the front pages of newspapers everyday which people save and even share on WhatsApp. This mode of sharing headline news makes it vulnerable to manipulation to fit a certain agenda by unscrupulous people for malicious intent. So in order to figure out if this newspaper was authentic, we checked the official page of the Guardian post first and then other online blogs like Mimi Mefo info who also share headlines of different publications through their social Media pages. https://twitter.com/MimiMefoInfo/status/1567027230362017793?t=fxNrB_oXR6ciZgXkcYfsww&s=19
Other online journalists like Regina Sondo all had the same version for that particular edition except for the one circulated by Amba Breaking News. https://twitter.com/ReginaSondoM/status/1567035278308655112?t=zo6vR6YMKEG6MJgHtjbw2g&s=08
This is not the first time such fake news has been shared in a bid to stop school resumption. Since the Anglophone Crisis started in 2016, Separatist fighters have used series of Lockdowns and messages to stop parents in these regions from sending their kids to school. It was reported by Mark Bareta and Ivo Tapang who are renowned secessionists on January 27th 2017 that UNESCO had declared that it would not recognize certificates for the academic year 2017/2018 in Cameroon https://www.bareta.news/certificates-cameroons-shall-not-recognized/
These Separatists even used social media to share fake images and press releases of UNESCO rejecting the school year. However, later that year, UNESCO debunked the news. This has been their strategy for them to gain followers, create traffic and garner support for their cause.
The Amba Breaking News issue 2558 has not passed the fact checking process since it differs from the official edition 2558 that is available from the Guardian Post Facebook page. It has been manipulated to further discourage parents from sending their children to school so as to force the government to negotiate and dialogue with the Secessionists.