ExplainersMedia Literacy

How Twitter user changed figures announced by INEC to spread fake news on Adamawa election

Using fake results online, social media users spread posts that the All Progressive Congress (APC) party candidate, Aishatu Dahiru, popularly called Binani, has won the Adamawa state governorship election.

The governorship and state assembly elections were held on Saturday in the northeastern state. As voting ended, the sorting and collation of results commenced immediately. Results were announced at polling units, after which they were collated and announced at wards. The results were further collated from the ward collation centres for each local government across the state and finally at the state collation centre in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state.

By Sunday morning, the state collation centre was opened to receive and announce results from the 21 local governments in the state.

The state has 2,186,465 registered voters, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Fourteen candidates contested for the governorship of the state. The major candidates in the race are incumbent governor Ahmadu Fintiri, seeking re-election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Aishatu Dahiru, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Premium Times in partnership with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), reported live updates of results announced by the electoral commission. By Sunday night, INEC had announced results from 18 out of 21 local government areas of the state.

However, as the commission paused the collation and went on break, a Twitter account named “Binani4Governor” manufactured results and shared in a tweet that Ms Binani had won the election.

The user shared a picture with the results of the 21 local governments declaring that Ms Binani had won the election.

“APC has just delivered the first female governor in Nigeria! You can’t write off an entire party as evil! This is the party I support! To think it came from the North,” a Twitter user Jay (@Iambobjay) replied under the tweet.”

The tweet would soon go viral on social media, with many people engaging the tweet massively. Several people began to rejoice with Ms Binani as Nigeria’s first female elected governor.

In less than 24 hours, at least 4,411 Twitter users have liked the tweet, and 1,166 retweeted, while 441,000 generally viewed the post.

Then, popular activist and social media influencer JJ Omojuwa posted on Twitter: “History. Nigeria’s 1st elected female governor is on the cards with the election of Senator Aishatu Dahiru, a.k.a. Binani! Congratulations Adamawa.” Mr Omojuwa, who has 1.2 million followers, attached a picture of Ms Binani with his tweet and the caption “Madam Governor.”

Checks by DUBAWA show that the results shared on Twitter didn’t correspond with official results announced by INEC and published on PREMIUM TIMES.

For instance, in Lamurde’s local government, official results announced by INEC show that APC has 9,376 votes, but results shared on Twitter show that APC got 19,589.

In Michika, INEC results show that the APC has 15,793, but the tweet said APC won 15,795. Based on official results in Yola South, APC has 32,255, but results shared on Twitter show that APC got 29,040.

Similarly, in Mayo Belwa, the PDP got 20,239 votes according to INEC results, but the numbers on Twitter were cut down to 18,392. DUBAWA analysis shows that Twitter users twisted these numbers to spread fake news.  

The only official acceptable results are the ones announced by the electoral commission INEC. The alleged tweet shared fake numbers to show that Ms Binani won the election. The tweet and numbers are changed from what the electoral commission INEC announced at the state collation centre in Yola. 

Ahead of the Nigerian elections, there has been an explosion of fake news across social media platforms. Nigerians are now increasingly wary of any content regardless, as different political parties and political actors have unwittingly helped peddle misinformation. Divisive content on religion and ethnicity is also littered across social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp.

The Adamawa governorship election has been declared inconclusive by INEC. Although final results tallied by INEC showed that Mr Fintiri of the PDP scored the highest votes, INEC said the cancelled votes were more than the margin of victory between Mr Fintiri and the runner-up, Ms Dahiru.  Therefore, the electoral commission said a new date would be fixed for re-run elections in areas where elections could not be held in the state.

The researcher produced this explainer per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame Kari Kari fellowship partnership with premium times to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

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