ExplainersFeaturedMedia LiteracyPolitics

How Twitter parody account posing as Ibrahim Babangida misled many

Past leaders under the military or democratic rule are major players in the electoral process in Nigeria. Different stakeholders take their comments seriously, which is why many seek their endorsements when running for office. 

Social media has become a channel for these leaders to share their observations and comments on the nation’s politics. While some of these leaders are active on social media, others are not, but we have seen active parody accounts posing as these political figures to sway opinions. This is why Elon Musk, after taking ownership of Twitter, announced unlabelled parody account would be suspended.  

Recently, a Twitter account @General_Ibbro, who poses to be a former military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, popularly known as IBB,  made a tweet that shows that the former Military President in Nigeria, endorsed Peter Obi, the Labor Party presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections. 

The tweet referenced an earlier endorsement of the same candidate by the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Recall Obasanjo had on January 2, 2023, in a New Year message targeted the youth while endorsing Peter Obi. 

Screenshot of the tweet by @General_Ibbro.

The tweet, as of January 9, 2023, had 5,595 retweets, over 510 quotes, over 20,000 likes and over 1,550 comments. 

Another Twitter user, a verified account @diisa2002, tweeted a screenshot of the supposed IBB tweet on January 3, 2023, with the caption, “I keep saying it READ THE FUCKING ROOM.”

This tweet was later deleted after generating huge engagement. 

Screenshot of tweet by @diisa2002.

All these engagements show that people who hide behind these parody accounts usually achieve their objectives. 

However, it also shows that many social media users are still very vulnerable to the dangers of the misinformation and disinformation that such accounts breed. 

The account @General_ibbro

Upon running a check on this account, we discovered that as of January 3, 2023, at about 8:01 pm, the bio on the account read as follows 

“Not from, Military Head of States; Federal Republic of Nigeria 1985-1993 – Rtd General – GCFR – Elder Statesman – ‘PARODY’  

Screenshot of @General_Ibbro bio information 1.

As of that date, the account had over 69,000 followers, which included many verified Twitter accounts. Some of them are @legitngnews @IdahPeterside @diisa2002 @frankedoho @omonioboli and @segalink.  

However, four days after, specifically on January 7, 2023, at about 8:27 am, the bio had been edited to the following:  

“From, Military Head of States; Federal Republic of Nigeria 1985-1993 – Rtd General – GCFR – Elder Statesman –  Tweets are not signed – IBB *PARODY* 

Screenshot of @General_Ibbro bio information 2.

The location on the bio shows Minna, Nigeria, and the account was created in October 2013. 

Minna is the capital of Niger state, the home state of IBB and where politicians go to him for homage or endorsement.

The account still retained the profile picture of the former head of state Ibrahim Babangida. Interestingly, the number of followers has increased to over 71,000. 

One word stood out in block letters in the bio, and that word is Parody. 

This account, opened in 2013, has been in the business of misleading its unsuspecting followers. 

In November 2022, the account shared a tweet where he used the word  ‘obediently’ (which was not necessarily a grammatical requirement in the sentence). Obedient is the name popularly used by the supporters of the Labor party presidential candidate Peter Obi. 

Screenshot of misleading a tweet by @General_Ibbro.

Like it is doing now, this handle played a similar role on the heels of the 2019 general elections. 

Screenshot of a tweet by @General_ibbro on February 19, 2019.

Screenshot of another tweet by @General_ibbro on June 12, 2019.

Is IBB on Social Media?

The former Head of State has repeatedly said he does not have a social media account as he is not on any social media platform. 

As a matter of fact, before the 2019 general elections, Babangida’s media team had to issue a statement telling the general public not to fall victim to any information on social media accounts in his name.

“We wish to state categorically that the Twitter handles bearing the name and photographs of General Babangida are fictitious. Their creation by unscrupulous elements is aimed at misleading unsuspecting members of the public.”

Similarly, on January 4, 2023, the spokesperson to the former Head of State, Prince Kassim Afegbua, refuted claims that his principal had endorsed Peter Obi. He further confirmed that IBB doesn’t have a Twitter account.

“It is not true, please. Ignore the report of the endorsement. IBB doesn’t have a Twitter handle. If he is going to speak, it will be through a signed statement, not Twitter. Those behind the Twitter statement are liars.”

As the election gets closer, more parody accounts will spring up. It is, therefore, important to learn how to identify such accounts. Here is all you need to know about parody accounts and how they are used.

Conclusion

The Twitter account posing to be the former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, is a parody account, as clearly stated in their bio, so tweets from this accord should not be attributed to the former head of state. 

 This content was first published on Nigeria Info.

”The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with the newsroom of Wazobia FM and Nigeria Info FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.”

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button