Claim: A viral video on social media platforms alleged the invasion of the National Assembly complex by operatives of DSS eleven days before the 2023 General Election.
Verdict: MISLEADING. The video shared as breaking news on most social platforms is an old video from 2018.
On February 14, 2023, social media platforms in Nigeria were washed with a video of heavily armed masked security operatives believed to be members of the Department of State Service (DSS) barricading the entrance of the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
The viral video shows a male member of the House of Assembly visibly angry and questioning the authority of the security operatives who said they were acting based on an “order from above.”
In Nigeria, “order from above” connotes that the directive was given by a superior command, possibly from the presidency.
The man in the video could be heard asking, “Order from above? What above? What happened to the above? Are they above the God that put them there? Is that what you called for? Do you call for this kind of change? This impunity of the highest order! You closed Nigeria house?”
In the one-minute, 35 seconds video, the masked armed operatives could be seen taking positions in front of the National Assembly. In contrast, some other people, presumably journalists and staff of the National Assembly, were seen recording the happenings with their mobile phones.
The video has been seen on Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, and other social media news platforms. On Facebook, within seven hours of its upload by LadyK Ifeoluwa, the video has been viewed 44,000 times, had 1,400 shares, 330 comments and was liked 1,000 times.
On WhatsApp, concerned relatives shared it in groups and sent to individuals.
On TikTok, it was shared by @paulthegudguy” with the video having 34 likes and three comments at the time it was viewed.
On Twitter, the video was shared by @sasakosaChief. He also referenced a news platform (NewsRescue), which uploaded the video wrapping it around a narrative that the military had taken over the National Assembly. The NewsRescue platform seems not credible as no name of the publisher and correspondent were provided — no telephone number or address except an email address associated with the editor.
The timing of this video and the varying narratives is dangerous, especially as the DSS recently questioned Femi Fani Kayode over a post on his verified Twitter handle @realFFK suggesting that some notable Nigerians are planning a coup.
No doubt, the video can cause panic, fuel unrest in parts of the country and can prevent registered voters from coming out on election day to exercise their franchise. Due to the virality of the video, its implication on our democratic system and its potential to destabilise the country at a time when the nation is preparing for another general election, DUBAWA finds verifying the report crucial.
A keyphrase search on the web revealed that the video had been uploaded since 2018. The two minutes, 37 seconds video was shared by Channels Television on YouTube on August 7, 2018, and has 76,463 views.
The same video was also uploaded on Channels Television Facebook page on the same day, with the post having 203,000 views and being shared 6,200 times.
On YouTube, the news platform wrote that “the masked security operatives and officials of the Department of State Service (DSS) arrived at the National Assembly very early on Tuesday morning, barricading the entrance to the complex.” Coincidentally, the fake story also began circulating on a Tuesday, but this time on February 14, 2023.
We also found the same video on another YouTube channel, Chosenozo, uploaded on the same day (August 7, 2018) with 51,989 views. The video is a more extended version (11 minutes, 15 seconds real-time recording).
The originator of the video intentionally put out an abridged version of this video from 2018 to mislead the public.
It is important also to note that the video is being shared when members of the National Assembly are on recess in preparation for the 2023 General Election beginning on February 25th.
The legislators proceeded on recess on January 25, 2023, and are billed to resume on February 28, three days after the Presidential and National Assembly election scheduled for February 25, 2023.
Although many social media users believed the story and went on to share it, some social media users were quick to point out that the video was an old one. At the same time, some of them said they were within the National Assembly’s premises on the day when the fake news popped up.
Our verification shows that the video is not recent because it happened in 2018, and the National Assembly was in recess when it was shared. Therefore, the claim that the Department of State Security operatives, DSS, have hijacked the National Assembly is misleading.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Harmony FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.