CLAIM: Using infographics, purveyors of fake news claimed that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a former Liberian President and head of the ECOWAS election observer mission to Nigeria has commended the outcome of Nigeria’s recent presidential election. She was alleged to have said: “The outcome of the 2019 elections, (sic) reaffirms the massive support of the Nigerian public to the fight against corruption.”
CONCLUSION: TOTALLY FALSE
Hardly had the results of the February 23rd 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections been announced when congratulatory messages and praises of the entire process began to pour into Nigeria.
Many world leaders had taken turns to offer their well wishes to Nigeria’s president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. The United Kingdom Prime Minister, Theresa May; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco; Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia; and Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, are among the world leaders who have congratulated Buhari on his re-election.
Apart from these leaders, representatives of different countries have added their voices. France, Russia, United States of America number among them.
It was in the mix of these congratulatory messages that certain names and organization were also mentioned as having sent similar messages to the Nigerian leader.
Liberia’s former president, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; EU’s Chief Observer to the 2019 election and Vice Chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) are at the forefront of these insinuations.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former Liberian president, who was the Head of the ECOWAS election observation mission to Nigeria was alleged to have said: “The outcome of the 2019 elections, (sic) reaffirms the massive support of the Nigerian public to the fight against corruption.”
Dubawa contacted Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf to confirm if indeed, she made the statement. Although she did not directly speak to us but a few hours after our enquiry, the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) issued a press release to dissociate itself from making such a statement.
Titled: “Release Refuting False Statement On Social Media”, the Commission called the claim “fake news”.
“The ECOWAS Commission refutes the fake news being circulated on social media and wishes to state categorically that the Head of its Election Observation Mission H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not at any time make such a statement,” the statement reads.
“The Preliminary Declaration as presented by H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on 24th February 2019 remains the Official position of the Commission.”
Hence, the claim that she said anything near what was quoted in the tweet above is TOTALLY FALSE.
MARIA ARENA, CHIEF OBSERVER OF THE EU ON THE 2019 ELECTIONS:
Like Johnson-Sirleaf, words were also put into the mouth of Maria Arena, the EU Chief Observer to the election. The post claimed Mrs. Maria had described the election as the “most democratic in the nation’s history.” It went on to praise the process that gave the president-elect a return mandate.
It reads: “Our process of measuring the level of democratic values relies upon strict observation of the electoral process. We come to our conclusions through rigorous assessment of compliance with the international commitments Nigeria put forth regarding their elections as well upholding of the requirements of their national legislation.”
Again, Dubawa reached out to Mrs. Maria Arena to confirm whether she made the statement. She replied: “Of course not. It is pure fake”. She also directed Dubawa to the release of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM).
Announced by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), a non-profit foundation promoting sustainable democratic development through advisory services and capacity development, further light was shed on the fakery of the statement.
In a letter signed by Rudolf Elbling, the Centre’s Project Coordinator in Nigeria, the Centre equally dissociated itself from the infographic. As an electoral assistance provider, the Centre wrote in its letter, “it does not observe, monitor or make statements about the conduct of any elections worldwide.”
Having noticed the circulation of “a certain infographic containing the ECES logo and picture of an ECES staff” on social media, the Centre condemned the action.
“We condemn in strong terms such actions & reaffirm our commitment in providing technical assistance to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Nigeria within the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme.”
RANDY SCHEUNEMANN, VICE CHAIRMAN OF IRI ON THE SAME ELECTION:
In his case, the words attributed to Randy Scheunemann, Vice Chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) are that: “As a representative for the IRI, it is necessary to comment on the recent Nigerian elections. The IRI is wholly satisfied with the results conforming to our standard for free and democratic politics.”
Although, Dubawa has not received a response from the Institute (once we do, this report will be updated). However, as in the case of the former two, the likelihood of this claim also being FALSE is very high.
This is why: The closest the Institute has said concerning the elections is contained in its Joint press release released on February 25. In the entirety of the release, there was no part that explicitly or implicitly implied that the election was satisfactory to the Institute. Neither was there any part that thee Institute described the elections conforming with its standard for free and democratic politics!
Neither Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the ECOWAS nor Maria Arena of the EU made any such statements as showering encomiums on the Feb 23 presidential and national assembly elections.
Hence, the statements are TOTALLY FALSE.