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#EdoDecides2020: The truths, lies and permutations in crucial election

Since 2018, Dubawa has been implementing comprehensive plans that utilize expertise from election observers deployed across the country to engage in active and rigorous fact-checking on political claims and other issues that may affect voters’ decisions. These plans are usually conducted in three phases: pre-election, election day and post-election, and include an effective distribution strategy for circulation on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Heralding our Edo State election fact checking work, our team of researchers published a very informative article on the eight types of political propaganda designed and viciously disseminated to sway the choices of would-be voters. Another article highlighting the ways in which netizens can verify viral information was published; our goal is to encourage digital and news literacy, and empower Nigerians to question information regardless of the source. Because of our experience with previous elections, it was also important to curate the accurate electoral protocols as defined by the country’s national electoral board, INEC. 

Next, we published a full-length fact-check on a recurring claim about the ownership of a national asset – the Edo Modular refinery. It was claimed that one of the achievements of Godwin Obaseki, the re-elected governor of Edo State is the development of the refinery. To the contrary, the refinery is fully owned and developed by AIPCC Energy Limited and the company was only a beneficiary of the Edo state government policy of attracting investments to the state. Read the full fact-check to learn more about government ownership of projects, the misleading use of terms like legacy project and redeemable shares to describe political achievements, and how the absence of public disclosure can mask the truth. 

We also fact-checked the Edo state governorship debate between the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Godwin Obaseki. For the claim on the unemployment rate in the state, our fact-check provided accurate data and compared the figure with the national unemployment rate and the position of Nigeria in relation to other countries. The claim that Obaseki introduced the Edo state health insurance scheme was also verified by our team and was found to be true, although the success of the scheme cannot yet be determined as enrollment into the scheme is still ongoing. 

We did, however, discover two misleading claims by the candidates. Obaseki claimed that his predecessor “borrowed recklessly” thus, leaving a debt burden of 120 billion naira. After a review of the total internal and external debt portfolio of the state during that time, we arrived at a figure close to but not exactly what was stated. On the other hand, the claim by Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the saturday election, that the Edo state government receives 600 million naira in security votes monthly was false. To understand why this claim was rated “misleading” by our researchers and to know more about security votes, monthly allocations and its use, read the full length fact-check here. 

As the much anticipated election was conducted over the weekend, our team worked around the clock to verify claims that could inform voters’ decisions. This includes false claims on the prevalence of violence in certain polling units and false claims about electoral misconduct. To find a full list of on-the-spot fact-checks published during the election, check our Twitter and Facebook pages. Stay updated to our social media platforms as we continue the post-election fact checking activities. 

Fact checks of the week

As a reaction to the footage of the wedding of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter where guests were seen spraying Naira notes, some Facebook users recently argued that spraying of naira notes is an offence in Nigeria. How true is this?

A Facebook page shared a picture of a certain man with the claim that he is the tallest in Nigeria. The picture portrays a Nigerian man who appears unusually tall, posing alongside other men who could…

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a recent tweet claimed that the Edo Modular Refinery is the “project” of Governor Godwin Obaseki, explaining that the governor…


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What can you do?

Be alert, share our tips and don’t share false news! 

Coronavirus infection count 

Note: Total cases may be more than officially stated owing to the inability to include unconfirmed cases. Stay safe!

Tip of the week 

#FakeNews Alert 

With the common trends in picture and video manipulation – photoediting/deepfakes – it is advisable to verify information before passing on to the next person. If it is supposed to be comical, make sure to include a public disclosure statement that explains the type of content! 

For accusatory posts like this, begin your verification by conducting a quick audit of the social media account. Is the page known for posting mostly inciting stories? What are people saying in the comment section? Next, check if the story was published by any other media platform that is believed to be credible. You can conduct further verification on the likelihood of the event happening but with preliminary investigation, you should have a well formed opinion on the credibility of the news. 

Other Fact-checks 

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