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Misleading newspaper report claims daughters of Buhari, Osinbajo facilitated dissolution of SARS

Zahra Buhari and Kiki Osinbajo 6 mins read

Claim: A report by the Authority Newspaper claims that daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo brought about the dissolution of SARS.

Misleading

Full Text

Amidst the continuous protest against police brutality and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the  Authority Newspaper, in a report published on Monday, October 12, 2020, claimed that the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari and the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, brought about the dissolution of SARS. 

According to the report, with the headline “How Buhari, Osinbajo’s daughters brought SARS down”,  the Instagram post by Kiki Osinbajo and Zarah Buhari brought the pressure that led to the final disbanding of the Squad.

The report, which could still be found on the website of the newspaper on Friday morning,  leads with these paragraphs, “Unknown to Nigerians, the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, brought the pressure that led to the final disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“Zarah Buhari and Kiki Osinbajo, were in the fore among Nigerian influencers who kicked against the abominable acts of the defunct SARS.”

Apart from their efforts on Instagram, the report made no reference to any other activities involving the two that led to the acclaimed role of the duo and what  they they did to bring the police agency down

Viral screenshot of Authority newspaper’s report.
Screenshot of Online report by Authority Newspaper.

SARS

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was created in 1992 during the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida military junta. A retired Commissioner of Police, Simeon Midenda, was quoted in a December 23, 2017 report by Vanguard newspaper to have claimed that  the unit was created by his effort.

Midenda was quoted to have said, “SARS was founded by me in 1992. For a proper understanding of this, historical background to its formation is relevant. Anti-Robbery as the modus operandi of the Nigeria Police Force for combating armed robbery has been as old as the Police Force itself. As a unit also, anti-robbery had always existed in all Criminal Investigation Departments at Force Headquarters, Zonal and State Command levels. To claim that I founded SARS required explanation.”

#EndSARS

The hashtag #ENDSARS is a movement that started on Twitter against the brutality of a special unit under the police force known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). SARS has been accused of unlawful arrest, torture, and murder of Nigerian Youth. 

The five demands of these protesters were: 

-An end to SARS and police brutality

-Release of all persons arrested and justice for victims of police brutality

-Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days)

-Psychological evaluation of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed, 

-Increase in police salary.

On the heels of the #EndSARS protest nationwide, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday October 11, 2020 announced the dissolution of SARS alongside other major police reforms. These reforms include the formation of an investigative team including civil society and human right groups, to investigate alleged cases of human rights violations by the police

Following this, the presidential panel on reform of SARS also accepted the demands of these protesters, but the #ENDSARS movement initially aimed at ending SARS has  extended to other issues plaguing the Nigerian society. 

Verification

A keyword search showed screenshots of this paper’s report had gone viral, with some condemning the media for what it described as poor journalism. 

An Instagram post by Nsifioke said media houses in Nigeria are dead.

Screenshot of Nsifioke’s Instagram post.

Looking at News reports, a report by the Guardian noted that the daughter of the president and vice president joined the #ENDSARS campaign by airing their views on Instagram.

Screenshot of the Guardian report.

A similar report by the Vanguard also noted that the daughter of the president and vice president joined the #ENDSARS protest by the post they shared on Instagram. The report noted that while Kiki Osinbajo shared an Instagram post, Zahra Buhari shared her opinion on her Instagram story.

Screenshot of Vanguard’s report.

Another report by Premium Times noted that both the daughter of the President and that of the vice president took to their Instagram handle to show their support for the #ENDSARS movement but the daughter of the president, Zahra Buhari, took down her post afterwards.

Screenshot of Premium Times Report.

Dubawa went further to verify these reports by checking out the Instagram pages of Zahra and Kiki. 

Dubawa discovered that while Kiki Osinbajo’s post on #ENDSARS made on October 10, 2020, remains on her page, there is no post on #ENDSARS on the page of Zahra Buhari. 

Screenshot of Zahra Buhari’s Instagram page.
Screenshot of Kiki Osinbajo‘s Instagram page.
Screenshot of Kiki Osinbajo‘s post on #ENDSARS.

A Google reverse image search also showed different platforms that the screenshot of this paper had been shared. 

A twitter post by @Deshysmalls with the screenshot of the Newspaper questioned the editor of the paper. 

Screenshot of Deshysmalls twitter post.

Similarly, another post by OlajideTV questioned what sort of blunder this report could be.

Screenshot of OlajideTV’s post.

Dubawa reached out to Zahra Buhari and Kiki Osinbajo on Instagram via direct message to get their reaction to the report by Authority Newspaper but there was no response as of the time of publishing this check.

Dubawa,  also reached out to the newspaper to get reason for that report via email but is yet to get a response.

Media experts comment

Habib Oladapo, the Project Manager of Civic Media Lab said the report was already discredited by further developments.

He said, “I think the newspaper was just playing on the fact that there was a statement later that evening that SARS has been disbanded so they were trying to give credit to those people probably because they are related to prominent people or the authorities. Maybe that is why it was done but that is totally false. there were also issues that came after and of course the protest still continued after that so that totally discredits their report”.

To Moturanyo Alaka, the Executive Director, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), the report is an example of sensational journalism.

“The report is an example of sensational journalism. The body of the piece provides no evidence of the claim of its headline. It in no way represents the standard or stance of the Nigerian media,” she said.

Conclusion

While it is true that Zahra Buhari and Kiki Osinbajo supported the #ENDSARS campaign, the headline and report by Authority newspaper stating that they brought down SARS is misleading. 

Despite making their support known a day to the dissolution of SARS by the IGP, they did not in any special way influence the movement, aside sharing their opinions like every other Nigerians did on their social media account. It is also incontrovertible that both daughters did not come out to join the protest or lead any protest.

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