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Misleading! Jonathan did not issue warning to Tinubu against influencing tribunal

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Claim: Concerning the awaited judgment of the Presidential Elections Petition Court (PEPC), Goodluck Jonathan warns President Bola Tinubu against influencing the judiciary.

Misleading! Jonathan did not issue warning to Tinubu against influencing tribunal

Verdict: The speech was taken out of context, and the circulating clip was manipulated to paint an entirely different narrative. Mr Jonathan’s address was generally directed at “politicians” at an event in January 2023. The claim is misleading.

Full Text

Tessy Update, a Facebook blogger, recently posted a 4 minutes 45 seconds video that credited the former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, giving a warning to President Bola Tinubu not to use his power to influence the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition (PEPC).

The blogger added this caption to the clip to drive home her narrative: “BREAKING!! Former president Goodluck Jonathan don scatter everywhere as he w@rns Tinubu against using his position as President to influence election tribunal judges says the young are watching.”

This post has generated over 479,000 views, 12,000 likes, 5,800 shares, and 1,300 comments, none of which doubted the statement’s credibility.

The tribunal, which initiated hearings on May 8th regarding political parties and candidates challenging the Nigerian presidential election results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is now nearing its 180-day deadline. With the growing concerns arising from this development, internet users have not ceased to publish diverse opinions on social media. 

Given the considerable influence that the ex-president has among Nigerians and the potential misinformation in this post, DUBAWA opted to verify the assertion.

Verification

Carefully watching the manipulated clip, there was nowhere that Mr Jonathan mentioned Tinubu’s name. Rather, he admonished “fellow politicians and security service workers” against using their position to restrict the judiciary from their independence.

We also observed that this user grabbed the original clip from BM Motions, a cinematography company’s TikTok account. She then layered in motion graphics of Mr Jonathan from past speech occasions, after which she deployed a masculine voiceover to paint the narrative she was driving before showcasing the speech she alleged. Other content on her page also followed this format.

After seeing the original clip from BM Motions, we conducted a keyword search on Google. We found a recent article by The Sun newspaper titled “Don’t use political powers to squeeze judiciary, society – Jonathan.” This publication quoted the speech in the circulating clip but did not name a specific place or time where Mr Jonathan gave the speech. 

Ironically, other news that appeared to be similar was published seven months ago. As seen on The Cable and The Guardian, the ex-president delivered a speech during a book presentation held in honour of Kate Abiri (now late), the former Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, in Yenagoa, on her retirement. In his address, he cautioned politicians against resorting to judicial manipulation. This event occurred on January 13, 2023, preceding the general election.

To verify if the circulating clip originated from this event, we captured key frames from the video and cross-referenced them with photos posted on Facebook by event attendees. Notably, the background decorations were consistently observed in all the located pictures, featuring two predominant colours (white and pink). Also, Mr Jonathan appeared in the same outfit, holding a microphone with a blue colour at the bottom.

Misleading! Jonathan did not issue warning to Tinubu against influencing tribunal
A side-by-side comparison of the clip with old pictures from January.

During our investigation, we found another video of Mr Jonathan delivering the same speech in January. This particular one, although edited, presented the complete speech, in which he never mentioned any name as alleged throughout his address.

Conclusion

The assertion that former President Goodluck Jonathan cautioned President Bola Tinubu about interfering with the presidential election tribunal’s outcome is untrue. The claimant manipulated an outdated video clip to convey a misleading story.

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