Claim: There have been social media claims that the military junta in the country has arrested the Nigerien Finance Minister for connection with money laundering.
Verdict: FALSE. The video in circulation has no connection with the coup in Niger and has been on the internet since December 2021.
General Abdourahmane, Tchiani-led Presidential Guards of the Republic of Niger, breached the West African nation’s presidential palace and detained President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. Later Wednesday evening, The Nigerien Army Spokesperson, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, announced the deposition of President Bazoum for what he described as a deteriorating security situation and bad governance in the country.
Though President Bazoum has been detained since the coup plotters took over on Wednesday morning, the military has promised to respect his well-being. On Friday, General Tchiani, in a nationwide television broadcast, announced himself as the “president of the national council for the safeguard of the homeland.”
On Friday evening, a video allegedly showing the erstwhile Minister of Finance of Niger, Dr Ahmat Jidoud, emerged within the Nigerian online space with claims that the new military junta had asked him to account for stolen funds of the country within 48 hours or face execution by firing squad.
The video was first shared by one @mahdi_shehu on Twitter with the caption, “EVERYDAY FOR THE THIEF… Below is the Finance Minister of Niger Republic, having been told by the new military junta to account for all stolen money of the country in the next 48 hrs or face execution by firing squad. In other countries, he will retain his seat and enjoy (sic).”
The tweet has already garnered about 650,000 views, 4,192 retweets, 4,759 likes and 1,301 comments.
The same video with the same caption was shared by @omoelerinjare on Twitter; Elerinjare’s tweet has about 108,000 views, 931 retweets, 963 likes and 207 comments. The post was also shared on the biggest Nigerian online forum, Nairaland. On Twitter and Nairaland, Nigerians have continued to react to the news of the purported arrest of the Minister of Finance of the Neighboring country, calling for a similar military takeover in Nigeria so that supposedly corrupt Nigerian government officials can also be arrested and brought to book.
Steve Hanke, a popular Twitter user, also shared the same post with the same narrative.
The sensitive nature of the claim and its vitality made us investigate.
We conducted a preliminary check on the minister of finance of Niger and discovered that Ahmat Jidoud, a 43-year-old Nigerien economist who was appointed Minister of Finance in April 2021 by President Mohamed Bazoum.
Before being appointed minister, he worked with the International Monetary Fund as an economist and served as Minister Delegate to the former Minister of Finance between 2016 and 2021.
We also observed from pictures that the person’s physical appearance in the video differed from that of Ahmat Jidoud, the current ousted Niger Republic finance minister. The individual in the video is dark-skinned, whereas Ahmat Jidoud is known for his light-skinned appearance. Therefore, it is unlikely that the person in the video is Ahmat Jidoud.
Further checks by DUBAWA show that the video being circulated first surfaced online in December 2021 when a Facebook page, Damagram Post, posted the video with the caption: “Former minister of justice Marou Amadou is crying for joy after being appointed as Niger ambassador in Ethiopia.”
We also discovered that the video had been shared on Twitter in December 2021 with a caption in Arabic. Using Google Translate, we realised the post described the man in the video as the former Minister of Justice, Maro Amdo, who was minister between 2011 and 2021.
The narrative was that the minister was crying while praising the former presidents of Niger, especially the former President of the Republic, Muhammadu Issoufou, with whom he worked for ten years as Minister of Justice.
In April 2011, Marou Amadou, a former civil society activist, was appointed Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals and Government Spokesperson by President Mahamadou Issoufo. He held the post until the end of the two terms administration of Issoufo in April 2021. Marou Amadou would later be appointed Nigerien ambassador to Ethiopia, African Union (AU) and the Economic Community for Africa (ECA) in December 2021.
The claim that the Ex-Nigerien Minister of Finance, Ahmat Jidoud, has been arrested by the Abdourahmane Tchiani-led military junta of the Republic of Niger is false. The video purportedly showing the erstwhile Finance Minister crying has been on the internet since 2021, and the man in the video is reportedly a former Minister of Justice, Marou Amadou.