CJID Hosts OSINT Workshop on Reporting Information Disorder in the Sahel and Lake Chad Conflict Zones

The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), through its Conflict, Security, and Human Rights project, in collaboration with Dubawa, the fact-checking and verification arm of CJID, is pleased to announce a 3-day Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Workshop on Conflict Reporting.

The workshop is for data journalists, digital investigation analysts, and researchers passionate about deploying open-source intelligence tools to track disinformation in conflict zones and willing to enhance their reporting skills to cover, research, and openly investigate the terrorist network and operations in the Sahel region. It seeks to equip participants with essential skills, tools, and technologies to enhance information accuracy, combat misinformation, and contribute to conflict resolution.

The workshop aims to address the challenges that digitisation, constant technological evolution, and proliferation of the media, news, and information bring that have affected and are still affecting the public’s perception and cognitive behaviour in the Sahel region. It also seeks to address the complex challenges posed by information disorder, terrorism, and banditry in the Lake Chad region through a multifaceted approach, especially through a comprehensive Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) training programme.

In a statement issued by Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, The CEO of CJID, he expressed that Nigeria’s democracy is at a critical juncture, and the central challenge today is how to strengthen civic participation, power accountability, and deliver development. According to him, “disinformation and information disorder represent one of the most powerful headwinds against democracy and, as a consequence, development.”

Mr. Olorunyomi emphasised that, in a related sense, disinformation also represents a huge challenge to civic harmony and community relations. The convulsive social stress and conflicts across the land and our region have much to do with false and repugnant narratives. According to him, “this is where OSINT becomes an early warning and deterrent mechanism in the new digital and artificial intelligence landscape, asserting its place as a crucial resource for the building of democracy, development and civic progress.”

Speaking about the workshop, Oluwapelumi Oginni, Project Lead for the Conflict, Security, and Human Rights project at CJID, stressed the importance of training data journalists, digital investigation analysts, and researchers, particularly in light of the ongoing global prevalence of conflict situations and the challenges posed by information disorder during such times. She highlighted the urgent need to equip professionals with the necessary skills for effective conflict reporting and research, stating, “Empowering professionals with these skills has become essential.” Additionally, Oluwapelumi expanded on the significance of leveraging OSINT tools to bolster participants’ capabilities, allowing them to conduct advanced research and formulate a comprehensive framework to address issues of information disorder, terrorism, and banditry in the Lake Chad region.

According to Silas Jonathan, the project lead of the Digital Information Disorder Analysis Center (DIDAC), “This training is crucial and timely. Manipulated information has become a tool for individuals to advance their self-serving interests, posing a significant threat to democracy. This is particularly evident in crisis-prone regions like the Lake Chad Basin, where information disorder exacerbates existing issues. By equipping journalists to effectively counter this threat, we can work towards restoring peace in the region.”

“Addressing digital information disorder in our ecosystem requires innovative, digitally-inspired solutions. The integration of OSINT skills is crucial. CJID hopes that journalists will merge their reporting expertise with digital investigations to effectively counter various forms of digital threats in conflict zones.” 

About the Workshop

The training is scheduled to be held on the 11th – 13th of March, 2024. The use of OSINT tools will play a pivotal role in enhancing the workshop’s teaching and impact. These tools will enable the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data related to terrorism, banditry, and conflict. By examining digital platforms and social media, the project aims to identify digital footprints like specific hashtags associated with abductions and terrorist activities. 

The goal is to track and understand the framing of these events from the perspectives of citizens, governments, and digital opinion leaders. OSINT tools will further facilitate an in-depth exploration of context framing and perception framing, providing crucial insights into the dynamics of conflict in the region.

The training program has been designed to incorporate various interactive methods, including lectures and discussions, to create an immersive and impactful learning experience for all participants.