Atiku Abubakar

  • How true is claim Atiku led Economic Management Team that paid off Nigeria’s debt?

    Nigeria’s first loan from the Paris Club – a $13.1 million fund – was taken from the Italian government in 1964 for the building of the Niger dam. 

    The nation’s borrowing from foreign lenders continued but was deemed generally insignificant until the oil boom of 1971-1981 which brought about “big borrowing.” When oil prices crashed in 1982, Nigeria was unable to pay off the loans it borrowed. 

    With the spike in interest payments and penalties, the debt became a financial crisis. This continued through the military regimes till the return to civilian rule in 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo embarked on the debt relief campaign. 

    Nigeria’s debt, as of December 2004 stood at $36 billion which equals N 4.82 trillion using the official exchange rate of N134 to US$1.00 at the time. 

    On June 29, 2005, the debt relief efforts yielded results when the Paris Club and Nigeria agreed on a US$18 billion debt relief package

    Recently, a viral image showing  Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had the claim that Mr Abubakar who was Vice President at the time, led the Economic Management Team (EMT) that paid off Nigeria’s debt. 

    Screenshot of the viral image

    This campaign effort to show off Mr Abubakar’s achievement has sparked several debates for and against the claim.

    What exactly is an Economic Management Team?

    An Economic Management Team (EMT) is a team of experts that manage the resources, finance, income and expenditure of a country and advise the President on economic policy matters.

    Currently, Nigeria’s EMT is being chaired by the Vice President with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Information and Culture, Governor of the Central Bank, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Director-General of the Budget Office, Director-General of the Debt Management Office, and Director-General of the National Bureau of Statistics as members. 

    Was this the same situation during the period Mr Abubakar was Vice President?

    What does the Nigerian constitution state?

    The Economic Management Team which appears as the Economic Management Council is listed as a Federal Executive body by the Nigerian constitution. This council is chaired by the Vice-President. 

    Screenshot of the Constitution’s provision on the National Economic Council. 

    In an article by Punch, Mr Abubakar said he assembled the economic team and in another article by the Guardian, he said he was the leader of the economic team.

    While the constitution recognises Mr Abubakar as the chair of the economic council, research shows that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is currently the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), led the EMT that cleared Nigeria’s Paris Club debt. 

    According to her biography on the WTO’s website, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala who served as Minister of Finance twice (from 2003-2006 and 2011-2015), spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club Creditors. 

    “As Minister of Finance in Nigeria, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of $30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of $18 billion,” part of the biography reads.

    This report also noted Mrs Okonjo-Iweala led the economic team of President Olusegun Obasanjo. 

    According to the Debt Management Office (DMO) document on “Nigeria’s debt relief deal with the Paris Club,” the relief was achieved through the collective efforts of the President, the Ministry of Finance, the National Assembly, the DMO, the EMT, and other stakeholders.

    Screenshot of the DMO document on Paris Club debt. 

    To say the Vice President was the chairman or head of the Economic Team/Council is correct but to say he led the conversation that led to the debt removal could be misleading.  

  • Several claims on Bill Gates’ alleged invasion, Atiku’s candidacy fact-checked

    Claim: A WhatsApp post has several claims around Bill Gates’ alleged military invasion of Nigeria, Atiku’s presidential candidacy, the National Health Act, and the attack on Owo church. 

    Three of the five claims in the WhatsApp post are false. There is insufficient evidence to verify the other two claims.

    Full Text

    Following the emergence of presidential candidates for different political parties, many WhatsApp users are beginning to circulate different claims about the candidates.

    Recently, a WhatsApp post being circulated on different groups came with several claims about popular billionaire, Bill Gates’ alleged military invasion of Nigeria, Atiku’s presidential, candidacy, the National Health Act, and the attack on Owo church. 

    Part of the post suggests that the ISWAP terrorists that reportedly attacked Owo church in Ondo State were trained by Blackwater Army which was reportedly owned by Bill Gate.

    The post also claims that Bill Gate is planning to unleash the same military army on Nigeria, should the Buhari led-APC government fail to hand-over to Abubakar Atiku and Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP in 2023. 

    A screenshot of the WhatsApp post

    The 16-paragraph WhatsApp post with different links also insinuates that National Health Act 2014 was used to legalize human organs harvesting and human ovarian eggs poaching from Nigeria. 

    The post also alleged that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was compelled by the Americans to sign the 2014 law, despite grave legal lacunae that risked the lives of millions of Nigerians, who would be killed for their organs in Nigerian hospitals. These hospitals were said to be owned by Bill Gates through proxies of a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement. 

    Another part of the post suggests that the purported attacks by Bill Gates’ suspected terrorist mercenaries is to “create an outrage of persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria, so that, their proxies would call for a UN peace-keeping force and create a decoy to formerly move-in the Blackwater private mercenaries that could topple the Buhari’s administration.”

    DUBAWA observed that the post has led to arguments giving room for people to believe in a conspiracy theory that America is trying to unleash terror in Africa. This was also sent in by different users for verification, prompting us to look into the claims.   

    Verification

    Claim 1: ISWAP terrorists trained by Blackwater Private Army were responsible for the mass genocide in a Church in Owo in Southwestern Nigeria that left 40 victims dead.

    Findings by DUBAWA, however, showed that Blackwater started out as a private security firm providing training support to law enforcement, the justice department, and military organizations. 

    Blackwater, now known as Academi LLC, was one of the private security firms used to guard officials, security guards, and military installations, train army and police forces, and provide other support for armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Israel.

    The transformation of Blackwater logo to Xe and now Academi 

    While Academi was used to fight against terrorism in some parts of the world, DUBAWA discovered that there was no sufficient evidence to connect the private security firm and ISWAP which took responsibility for the Owo attack. 

    Claim 2: Blackwater is a private army owned by Bill Gates and Monsanto

    DUBAWA’s findings revealed that the Blackwater which is now known as Academi was founded by former Navy SEAL officer, Erik Prince. 

    Blackwater, renamed Xe Services in 2009 has been known as Academi since 2011, after it was acquired by a group of private investors.

    Further checks showed two large companies: Forte Capital Advisers and Manhattan Growth Products, now operate Academi. 

    It was gathered that Forte Capital Advisers is run by Jason DeYonker, who has several financial and personal connections to former Blackwater Founder, Erik Prince. Manhattan Growth Products on the other hand has controlling shares in many small corporations including Hugo Naturals, which manufactures all natural cleaning products and “vegan friendly soaps.”

    Findings also revealed that Monsanto Company, is a multinational chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation that provides agricultural products for farmers. It is owned by Bayer AG with Hugh Grant as the CEO. 

    Dubawa’s checks discovered that Bill Gates was not a shareholder in the companies that acquire Academi and Monsanto Company as speculated in the WhatsApp post. 

    Claim 3: The National Health Act 2014 was used to legalize  harvesting of human organs and poaching of  human ovarian eggs from Nigeria.

    When DUBAWA went through the National Health Act 2014, there was nowhere the legalization of human organs and ovarian eggs poaching was discussed. 

    A report by PREMIUM TIMES also revealed that the act is expected to impact on health-care access and universal health coverage, health-care cost, quality and standards, practice by health-care providers, as well as patient care and health outcomes. 

    Claim 4: The Act was pushed by Bill Gates and President Obama during the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who insisted that he was compelled by the Americans to sign it.

    DUBAWA’s check showed that the National Health Act was first proposed in 2004 during the time of Eyitayo Lambo as minister of health. It, however, took a decade of consideration before it was eventually passed and signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan on October 31, 2014

    As against the post, former President Jonathan in 2021 said the National Health Bill and two others have remained dear to his heart. 

    Mr Jonathan, who also listed the Freedom of Information Bill and the Nigerian Local Content Bill, noted that the bills were special to him, despite signing numerous bills during his tenure as president. 

    Further search by DUBAWA using keywords showed that there was never a time the former president claimed the Americans  forced him to sign the National Health Act 2014. 

    Claim 5: Bill Gates has planned a military invasion of Nigeria should APC refuse to yield power to the PDP because Atiku and Okowa are the preferred candidates of Bill Gates.

    DUBAWA was unable to ascertain if Bill Gates is supporting Atiku/Okowa’s Presidency. 

    There was insufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that the Billionaire is doing everything to ensure his candidates emerge victorious in the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria. 

    Conclusion

    Three of the five claims in the WhatsApp post are false but there is insufficient evidence to support the other two claims.

  • Viral video of APC governors’ ‘visit’ to Atiku not recent

    Claim: A video circulating on social media, especially on WhatsApp suggests that northern governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) visited Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday, shortly after the emergence of Bola Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate. 

    The claim is misleading. DUBAWA discovered that the event took place early this year during a condolence visit to the family of Dahiru Mangal, a business magnate in Katsina. 

    Full Text

    Barely 24 hours after Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, emerged as the flagbearer of the ruling APC, some social media users started circulating a video suggesting that northern governors met with PDP candidate, Abubakar Atiku. 

    A screenshot of the acclaimed video

    In the 29 seconds video, Atiku was captured in a room with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Yobe State Governor, Maimala Buni, Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari and Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru, among others.

    The text that accompanied the video alleged conspiracy against Mr Tinubu by the northern APC leaders following his emergence as the party’s flagbearer. 

    The video was captioned: “Northern APC governors and Senate President went to visit Atiku. These are people that just handed the ticket of their party to Bola Tinubu and in less than 24 hours they are flocking together with the flag bearer of an opposition party. 

    “If this is not a conspiracy then tell me what it is. They collected all his dollar, gave him ticket and turned their backs immediately 🤔😅. We are just being played for fools!”

    DUBAWA observed that some Nigerians believed the video, as someone who reacted to it on a Whatsapp group insisted that many northern leaders will dump APC for PDP. 

    Screenshot of reaction to the Video  

    Verification

    DUBAWA conducted a frame by frame analysis of the video on the InVid Video verification tool.  Results from the analysis show that the earliest version of the video first surfaced on the internet on 22nd January 2022 when Atiku paid a condolence visit to the family of Dahiru Mangal, a business magnate in Katsina, who lost his 85-year-old mother.

    Dahiru Mangal is the Chairman of Afdin Group, owners of Max Air, Afdin Petroleum, Afdin Construction, among others.

    Further checks by DUBAWA led to a tweet by the PDP presidential candidate posted on his verified Twitter handle on the condolence visit to the Katsina business magnate. 

    Screenshot of a tweet by the former Vice President on his condolence visit to the Katsina Business magnate 

    The tweet read, “Earlier today (January 22), I paid a condolence visit to Alhaji Dahiru Mangal in Katsina over the loss of his beloved mother and matriarch of their family, Hajiya Murja Bara’u. I pray that Almighty Allah will comfort the family and grant her Aljannah Firdaus in Paradise.”

    Close observation by DUBAWA shows that images in the pictures correlate with shots from the video. All persons in the video are dressed just as depicted in the images.

    Conclusion

    The post alleging that APC northern governors visited Atiku after the emergence of Bola Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate is misleading. DUBAWA discovered that the event took place early this year during a condolence visit to the family of Dahiru Mangal, a businessman in Katsina. 

  • False, Atiku did not pick Ihedioha as running mate

    Claim: Twitter users claim the presidential candidate of the PDP has picked Emeka Ihedioha as his running mate. 

    Our findings show that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has not picked Emeka Ihedioha or any other person as his running mate.

    Full Text

    Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, emerged as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its primaries last week. 

    Following the emergence of Atiku as PDP presidential candidate the former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, trended on Twitter with claims he had been selected as the running mate of Mr Abubakar.

    Screenshot of Twitter trend. 

    A Twitter user Buchi (@UnusualStanlee) claimed Atiku had picked Emeka Ihedioha as his running mate. 

    “Atiku has picked Emeka Ihedioha as his running mate. interesting… If he likes, he should pick Father Mbaka our votes if for Peter Obi” part of his tweet read. 

    Screenshot of Twitter post by Buchi. 

    Another user Chikezie (@CC_okoro) tweeted “I hear Atiku picked Emeka Ihedioha as vice. Even if you pick my father, I will still vote for Peter Obi.” 

    Screenshot of Twitter post by Chikezie.

    Both posts had over six thousand likes and over a thousand retweets. Information available to voters influences their decision before, during and after elections, hence the need to verify this claim.

    Verification 

    A quick keyword search on Google led to no news report about Mr Abubakar picking a running mate.  

    Reports found here, and here were only predictions that Abubakar is considering choosing Mr Ihedioha as his running mate. 

    A look at Mr. Abubakar’s Twitter account and campaign website also did not show any release or announcement on his choice of a running mate.

    Also, the party’s Twitter account did not show any announcement related to this claim. According to the party’s Twitter account, the candidate himself was just presented with the certificate of return 24 hours ago. 

    We reached out to Mr Abubakar’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe, who said the search is on but his official is yet to pick a running mate. 

    He also noted that when the choice is made, it will be announced through the proper channels, not social media. 

    “Until the announcement is made, every other thing you are seeing are just speculations. The choice of a Vice President is a serious business, as serious as the choice of the president. The search is on.”

    Conclusion 

    The claim that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has picked Emeka Ihedioha as his running mate is false and misleading as our findings show Mr Abubakar is yet to pick a running mate.

  • False! Atiku Abubakar did not stand in as groom’s father during Yusuf Buhari’s wedding

    Claim: Some Facebook users have circulated the image of Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and that of President Muhammadu Buhari’s only son, Yusuf Buhari during his recent wedding, with messages indicating that the former vice president stood in as father of the groom  during the wedding.

    This claim is false as Maman Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, had stood in for Buhari during the wedding where Daura also received the bride on behalf of the young Buhari. 

    Full Text

    The town of Bichi in Bichi local government area of Kano State went agog on Friday, 20th August 2021 when President Muhammadu Buhari’s only son, Yusuf Buhari, wedded Zahra Bayero, one of the daughters of the Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado Bayero. The much anticipated wedding which was graced by members of the top echelon of Nigeria’s political and business circle saw former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as various Governors, Senators, Ministers and House of Representatives members in attendance. The Daily Trust reported that about 50 jets landed in Kano State for the wedding and the Minister of Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, officiated at the wedding Fatiha after a bride price of N500,000 was paid by the groom’s family.   

    Picture of Buhari’s son, Atiku set tongues wagging on Facebook 

    During the wedding Fatiha, pictures of Yusuf Buhari and Atiku’s son leaning in to speak with the former Vice President began to set tongues wagging with captions that Atiku Abubakar had stood in as the father of the groom. Bem Hima Bemshima, a Facebook user wrote on his wall:“Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar stood in yesterday as the father of the groom, Yusuf Buhari despite President Muhammadu Buhari being present. Just leave politics for Northers. I hope those of you who fight, poison, and kill each other because of politicians can learn from this.”

    The Facebook page of Bemshima Bemshima who posted on Saturday 21st August 2021 that former Vice President Atiku Abubakra stood in as father of the groom, Yusuf Buhari  

    Prince A. O. Aliyu also wrote: “Atiku Abubakar stands as the father of the groom, Yusuf Buhari despite President Muhammadu Buhari present. 2023 we continue from where we stopped, meanwhile APC/PDP will remind you Atiku is a thief and PMB is brainless abi Jibril from Sudan mtcheeeew.” 

    Another Facebook post made by Prince A. O Aliyu on Atiku standing in as father of the groom 

    Denham Derick Sosala tagged 11 others with a similar post, made earlier by Talba Lakwaja which was later deleted.  

    Denham Derick Sosala shared the post made by Talba Lakwaja and later deleted it with 11 others on Facebook.  

    Buhari, Atiku political rivalry  

    President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, are political rivals and belong to two of the country’s most popular political parties. In 2014, Buhari, Atiku and two notable politicians contested the primary election for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket in which Buhari won. Atiku who had decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013 had in the spirit of sportsmanship accepted Buhari’s victory and supported him to win the 2015 general election, against the then incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan. It was the first time an opposition party had won against a ruling party in Nigeria’s recent political history after Buhari’s three attempts at seeking the presidential seat. 

    However, soon after the general election, Atiku Abubakar again rejoined PDP, saying the APC had failed Nigerians. He then went on to become the party’s presidential flag bearer and President Muhammadu Buhari’s staunch rival in the February 23rd, 2019  presidential elections.

    Though the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared President Muhammadu Buhari re-elected, Atiku had rejected the results calling it a “sham election” before heading to the courts where he also lost.

    At the peak of politicking and before the court judgement that nailed Atiku’s fate, supporters of the two political bigwigs had been at war on social media, especially on the micro-blogging site, Twitter with several accusations and counter-accusations. Hashtags by Atiku’s followers such as #Atikuiscoming, #AtikuKawai trended while supporters of President Buhari used hashtags such as #Atikuisnotcoming and #Buharimuststay to dis PDP supporters.

    Now with 2023 by the corner and speculations that the PDP may zone its presidential ticket to the North, Atiku Abubakar seemed a likely candidate to tackle the APC ahead of the presidential election. 

    Verification 

    Our correspondent first reached out to journalists who covered the wedding ceremony to find out if Atiku Abubakar stood in as father of the groom. Clement Oloyede, Daily Trust Bureau Chief in Kano who covered the ceremony, described as untrue the claim that Atiku Abubakar had stood in for President Muhammadu Buhari as the father of the groom. He said President Buhari’s nephew, Maman Daura, had taken that position as announced during the wedding ceremony. This was clearly stated in his report published in the Daily Trust on Saturday August 21st.

    Also an audio of the BBC Hausa report corroborated that Maman Daura had received the bride on behalf of Yusuf Buhari. The BBC had also quoted Maman Daura as saying  N500,000 was paid as bride price on behalf of Yusuf Buhari. He had also received the bride while business mogul, Aminu Dantata, stood in as the Wali (guardian of the bride) and Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Digital Economy, officiated the ceremony. The audio has Maman Daura saying in Hausa: “I am the representative of my younger brother Yusuf Buhari and I seek your permission for him to marry Zahra Nasir Ado Bayero and we have paid a bride price of N500,000.”

    The wali (guardian) of the bride, Aminu Dantata, then said: “I am the guardian of Zahra Nasiru Bayero, and I have given her out in marriage and pray Allah makes it fruitful.” Maman Daura had then said: “I have received the bride on behalf of Yusuf Buhari on the teachings of Prophet Muhammd (S.A.W),” before the Minister of Digital Economy joined the bride and groom together.  

    Conclusion  

    There is no doubt that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was at the wedding ceremony and chatted with Yusuf Buhari as evident in pictures posted on Facebook by the President’s Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.  However, Atiku Abubakar did not represent President Buhari as the father of the groom.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship in partnership with Daily Trust newspapers to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

  • False! Atiku Abubakar not giving empowerment grants as claimed in viral WhatsApp message

    Claim: A message circulating on WhatsApp is asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar Empowerment Grant of N10,150 support fund via a website.

    Findings have shown that the  message circulating on WhatsApp, asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar Empowerment Grant  of N10,150 support fund via a website, is a click bait and fraudulent.

    Full Story

    A viral message is making the rounds on WhatsApp, urging Nigerians to apply for the  N10,150 support fund courtesy of the former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.

    The message directed readers to a free URL shortener, bit.ly.

    The message reads: *ATIKU Empowerment 2021*

    *Hurry Now and Check if You are Eligible to Receive N10,150 Support Fund As Part Of ATIKU Empowerment Grant.*

    _This Grant Is Available To All Nigerians_ 

    _Apply Here_

    bit.ly/ATIKU-YOUTH-EMPOWERMENT”

    Screenshot of  Post

    Verification

    First of all, the message contained grammatical errors and  irregular capitalisation of certain letters that cast doubts on its authenticity.

    Dubawa provided a wrong name, state, gmail, phone number in order to access the other pages of the form and it redirected this reporter to a new page.

    The second page reads: “Congratulations

    You have been selected to benefit from the support Fund Payment provided by ATIKU FOUNDATION. [1] [1] Answer the following three questions to benefit immediately!

    What is your Employment Status?

    What Is Your Marital Status?

    Choose Your Age Range?” 

    Screenshots of website

    This reporter was thereafter asked to share the information with 15 friends or five groups in order to get the application letter, and under the message beneficiaries were seen testifying on how real the project is.

    The notification reads: “After considering your answers, your support fund amount is set to N100,000 and complete the steps to obtain the withdrawal code from the electronic counter

    -You may get the support fund with only one step, kindly click the “Invite Friends/Group” button below to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so That They Can Also Benefit.

    Share it until the blue bar is full!

    -After sending the invitation, click the “Get withdrawal code” button:

    Note: If you do not complete this step correctly, you will not get the Support Fund every Week.”

    A screenshot of the page asking users to share information

    An analysis with Domainbigdata, a web tool used to look for the website ownership, revealed that the website has hidden information and the IP address also shows it has been reported several times for abuses, fraud, and attacks.

    Screenshot of Domainbigdata result

    Dubawa also observed that every visit to the website during this search in the last few days, there was a banner reading “This Offer Is Available Till 30th AUGUST 2021 So Far, 113624 Nigerians Have Benefited From This Offer. You Can Also Benefit. Apply Now and Follow Instructions”,  while the countdown was reading, creating a sense of urgency.

    Screenshot of warning banner

    So Dubawa conducted a word search on the Atiku empowerment, and it shows that the former Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar  has dissociated himself from the Atiku Foundation Youth Empowerment Fund, thereby urging Nigerians to disregard any fraudulent message from the platform.

    Atiku debunked the claim through his spokesperson, Paul Ibe, on the Atiku Care Foundation – Legal Department page on Facebook, on the 13th of July.

    In his words “We warn supporters of Atiku Abubakar and the general public not to patronize any portal called Atiku Foundation for Youth Empowerment.”

    Since Dubawa has fact checked several websites with similar profile, Dubawa decided to consult a techie, the founder, Zhibodigital Web Solutions, Joey Shekwonuzhibo,  to understand the reappearance of the website  in different forms, who said that URL shortener is used to make the address of a web shorter, examples are: (bit.ly, tinyURL, bl.ink, short.io, shorby, sniply) and the likes.

    “These links that are shortened could be misleading and if you’re not careful, you’d fall prey, sometimes, people use it for click bait, but it can be used for data analysis, on any of the link shortener sites, they give you analytics of how many people clicked, their devices, location, gage range all” Shekwonuzhibo added

    He went on to advise the public to use a website checker, Google or random word search to verify credible websites.

    Conclusion

    Verification has shown that the  message circulating on WhatsApp, asking Nigerians to apply for the Atiku Abubakar empowerment grant  of N10,150 support fund, via a website is fraudulent and misleading.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the 2021 Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Fellowship partnership with JAY 101.9 FM Jos to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country

  • 2019 report recirculated to fuel Atiku/Buhari presidential election rivalry – and many fell for it

    CLAIM: INEC presiding officers made confession on electronic transmission of 2019 presidential election results.

    VERDICT: TRUE! But report is from April 2019.

    FULL STORY

    On Sunday, November 29, 2020, news blogs reported there is a victory for 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, following revelation by some staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

    The news report which appeared here, here, here claimed that 13 presiding officers engaged by INEC said they transmitted results of the February 23, 2019 election electronically against the position of the commission.

     It stated further that the presiding officers made the statements at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja.

    One of the reports was headlined: “Massive Victory For Atiku As INEC Staff Makes Powerful Confession That May Vindicate Him.”

    The post here also featured a 5:31 minutes video which analysed the report from another news platform.

    It reads: “About 13 Presiding Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Borno and Yobe States, have told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, that they transmitted the results of the February 23, Presidential election in their various units and wards, to the official server of INEC.

    “The position of the presiding officers, however, contradicted the submission of INEC, who had earlier stated in its reply to the petition, that the results were never sent to its server.

    “This could go a long way in vindicating Atiku if proved to be true. What do you think? Is this the end for Buhari?”

    Some of the comments on the report showed that the readers not only believed the report as a fresh one, they also analysed and passed comments on their thoughts on the case.

    One of the readers, Kampala Pender said: “They should just forget that, as the judgment will always be twisted even with millions of evidence, I advise Atiku to focus on future.” (sic)

    Bright Miebi commented, “please we should forget about that before there will be war in Nigeria.”

    HappyMan wrote: “Good news but hungry people in power will not allow it to scale through. From onset they knew who really won but was twisted.”

    Ologunde Evng Abraham queried “truth is always constant but who will take care of it?”

    While some few other comments cast aspersions on the persons of Atiku and Buhari, a reader, Prince Olaniyan Toba, asked if the information is “fresh news or old.” He, however, did not get answers from those who dropped comments.

    VERIFICATION

    Key phrase search of the report showed that it had been published by mainstream media about 21 months ago.

    The report came following assertions by INEC that it did not transmit the 2019 election results electronically.

    Media organisations who reported this revelation include Vanguard, This Day, Premium Times, Ripples Nigeria, Daily Post.

    Checks on YouTube showed that the video was published by Trybez Fashion on April 26, 2019.

    A cursory look at the video, which has so far garnered 26,602 views showed that texts of the re-invented report were copied from the YouTube video verbatim.

    More so, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which the report referenced had completed its duties more than a year ago and has since been dissolved.

    Nigerian Tribune reports that the tribunal on September 11, 2019 upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari who was declared winner by INEC in February.

    Unsatisfied with the judgement of the tribunal, Atiku and the PDP approached the Supreme Court which dismissed the petition on October 30, 2019 while upholding Buhari’s election as president of Nigeria for another term of four years which will end in 2023.

    CONCLUSION

    Even though the content of the report is true, it is coming about 21 months late. Clear evidence showed that the report was re-invented from 2019 and the elections petition tribunal has since 2019 completed its duties. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with TribuneOnlineng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • #EndSARS: A Little History and More

    By Silas Jonathan 

    Recently, the hashtag #EndSARS, #EndSWAT and others – calling for an end to police brutality in Nigeria – became a top trend on Twitter and other social media platforms, eliciting diverse discourses from people within and outside the country.

    The campaign #EndSARS first emerged in 2018, but resurfaced once more a week ago, attracting an upsurge of support from most Nigerians, majority of whom were youths. As a result, the streets of major cities in the country were crowded with a number of peaceful protesters flaunting the notice #ENDSARS.

    The #EndSARS campaign has attracted massive reactions from significant people and organizations all over the world, demanding an end to a unit in the Nigerian Police Force called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, simply abbreviated as SARS. The unit was set up by the police in 1992 by CP Simeon Danladi Midenda with the sole responsibility of carrying out special undercover anti-robbery assignments without wearing a police uniform or badge. 

    This task, mandated for the SARS to discharge, was in line with the duty of the Nigerian Police Force, as set out in Nigerian Police Force Act 2004, to secure lives and properties, prevent and detect crime, and apprehend offenders. The same Law also allows the police to detain and search any suspected person in possession of anything stolen or unlawfully obtained which the SARS operatives are primarily assigned to carry out.   

    However, the SARS operatives have come under serious criticism from Nigerians and human rights organizations for committing crimes such as unlawful arrest, extrajudicial killing, torture, and extortion in the guise of preventing internet fraud.

    An analysis by  Amnesty International in 2016 showed that youths are more affected by SARS operations. This assessment recently…Read more


    FACT CHECKS OF THE WEEK 

    The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, Tweeted that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was created by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). How true is this claim? 

    A picture shared on Twitter, which shows about nine bodies lined up on the floor, suggest that they were victims of the police brutality in Oyo State. 

    Nigeria’s Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has issued a statement critiquing the 2021 Budget Proposal. The statement which was posted on the former vice president’s social media pages has since gone viral. In the statement… 


    QandA

    • When was the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force founded?

    A report by Vanguard traced the creation of SARS to 1992 during the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida military junta. A retired Commissioner of Police, Simeon Midenda, who was quoted in the December 23, 2017 report said the unit was created through his effort in 1992.

    • Is the 2021 Nigerian budget approved by the National Assembly yet?

    No, it’s not yet approved.  The budget passed the second reading at the Senate on Wednesday. The passage of the budget comes after three days of deliberation at the upper chamber. More than half of the lawmakers gave their contributions on the floor of the Senate during the debate. While many senators faulted the projections of the budget, especially having to borrow to fund the budget, others commended the executive for its plan on economic recovery.

    • Did Buhari say Nigerians should brace up for another recession?

    Yes, he recently  said so. President Muhammadu Buhari said, last week, that the country is heading for another recession, the second in four years. The President made the remarks while presenting the 2021 budget proposal to the National Assembly – “GDP growth is expected to be negative in the third quarter of this year. As such, our economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences.” Find more details…


    What can you do? 

    Be alert, share our tips and don’t share false news! 


    Coronavirus infection count 

    Note: Total cases may be more than officially stated owing to the inability to include unconfirmed cases. Stay safe,


    Tip of the week 

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is yKwqosoUG8p9iqZU5JZHk9rKgCY5xze1M24uVnyFToBgFl79S0fVHgfrDXHcpM3Jlfp0_saP5b10_wgF01Q9xp8x629stKh-VDKwmrN1D9r4rflJFKF8syVMy6rwtN00Q7YdBD8Z

    #FakeNews Alert 

    Some accounts on Twitter recently shared a picture of at least nine dead bodies lined side by side, suggesting that they were killed during ongoing protests that have called for reforms in the Nigeria Police. “Ogbomoso is Black. RIP to everyone we lost to the struggle,” tweeted @Cheyih_Viktah on Sunday, October 11, attaching the photograph. This turned out to be false. 

    SOURCE: TWITTER USERS

    Major social events are most often breeding grounds for false news.  The #EndSARs protest is not an exception. Beware of misleading pictures, narratives that lack sources and outrageous claims. Check for facts and inquire about anything and everything you see.  

    • A user on twitter, tweeted “I just heard according to UN Constitution any protests that reaches 30days will make UN intervene in that country. The Nigeria Govt knows this. Many young people don’t know it. EXCEPT the govt makes visible tangible immediate changes, #EndSARS protests MUST GO ON. Tell others.”

    SOURCE: TWITTER USERS

    This  information while good-intentioned is rather misleading.  The UN has no ‘constitution’. The closest to it is the UN Charter and it is not written anywhere in this Charter that the UN will intervene in a country on account of protests. Consume information about the protest with objectivity and prudence. Try to discern the intent of the source as there will likely be an influx of misinformation from the ongoing #EndSARS protest. 


    Other Fact-checks/Articles 

  • Fact-Checking Atiku’s Claims on 2021 Budget Proposal

    Nigeria’s Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has issued a statement critiquing the 2021 Budget Proposal.

    The statement which was posted on the former vice president’s social media pages has since gone viral.

    As at Monday, October 12, the post has been shared over 1,000 times, with almost 2,000 comments and about 7,500 likes on Facebook.

    It also has over 1,000 retweets and 4,000 likes on Twitter.

    Mr. Abubakar in the statement made some claims regarding the budget proposal which are important to verify.

    Claims:

    1. The 2021 Budget Proposal contravenes the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007

    2. Alleged contravention of the FRA escaped the notice of the Buhari administration

    3.Nigeria had a GDP of approximately $447 billion in 2019

    4.Nigeria’s 2020 GDP has fallen from 2019 figures

    5.Nigeria’s 2020 GDP projected by World Bank to be between $400 billion and $350 billion

    Full Text

    On Thursday, October 8, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 Budget Proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly.

    The proposed expenditure is put at ₦13.08 trillion. This, according to the president, includes N1.35 trillion spending by Government-owned Enterprises and Grants and Aid funded expenditures of N354.85 billion.

    Other estimated expenditures in the budget proposal include:

    a. Non-debt Recurrent Costs of ₦5.65 trillion;

    b. Personnel Costs of ₦3.76 trillion;

    c. Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits of ₦501.19 billion;

    d. Overheads of ₦625.50 billion;

    e. Debt Service of ₦3.124 trillion;

    f. Statutory Transfers of ₦484.49 billion; and

    g. Sinking Fund of ₦220 billion (to retire certain maturing bonds).

    President Buhari stated in his speech at the National Assembly that “the 2021 Budget deficit (inclusive of Government Owned Enterprises and project-tied loans), is projected at N5.20 trillion.”

    However, in a statement on Saturday, October 10, Nigeria’s Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, claimed an alleged ₦5.21 trillion budget deficit in the proposal is over 3.5% of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP. 

    This, according to the former vice president, contravenes the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. He cited the specific section of the Act which he believes the budget proposal contravenes.

    The former vice president said: “The budget deficit in the proposal is ₦5.21 trillion. This amount is just over 3.5% of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP. 

    “This is contrary to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, which provides in Part II, Section 12, subsection 1 that: 

    “Aggregate Expenditure and the Aggregate amount appropriated by the National Assembly for each financial year shall not be more than the estimated aggregate revenue plus a deficit, not exceeding three per cent of the estimated Gross Domestic Product or any sustainable percentage as may be determined by the national Assembly for each financial year.”

    Mr Abubakar also made at least four other claims in the statement (which have been highlighted earlier in the introduction) while trying to justify the alleged contravention of the FRA.

    Verification

    Claim 1: The 2021 Budget Proposal contravenes the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007

    Firstly, although the difference may appear not remarkable, it is important to note that the president actually stated that the deficit is ₦5.20 trillion and not ₦5.21 claimed by Mr Abubakar.

    Meanwhile, since the former vice president cited the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 to substantiate his claim, Legit.ng obtained a copy of the Act from the portal of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) for verification.

    In line with Mr Abubakar’s claim, Part II Section 12, Subsection 1 of the Act indeed stated that the deficit should not exceed three per cent of the GDP. 

    However, Legit.ng notes that the second part of the same subsection quoted by Mr Abubakar indicates that the National Assembly may determine “any sustainable percentage” for “each financial year”.

    Mr Abubakar also admitted this in the later part of his statement but urged the National Assembly not to raise the percentage, alleging that it will not be in the interest of Nigeria to do so.

    He said: “It has not escaped my attention that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 makes provision for the National Assembly to raise the threshold of the budget deficit from 3% to a higher figure.”

    “However, if this is done, they will be serving this administration’s interests, not Nigeria’s, because the Act says that such a threshold must be sustainable.”

    More importantly, a further check by Legit.ng finds out that Part II Section 12, Subsection 2 of the same Act quoted by Mr Abubakar empowers the president to raise the percentage above three per cent if, in his opinion, “there is a clear and present threat to national security or sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

    The subsection reads in full: “Aggregate expenditure for the financial tear (sic) may exceed the ceiling imposed by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, if in the opinion of the president there is a clear and present threat to national security or sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

    Considering this subsection, Mr Abubakar’s claim that the 2021 budget proposal contravenes the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 is misleading. 

    Though the deficit (₦5.20 trillion) is over 3.5% of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP (above the 3% threshold stated in the FRA) as the former VP claimed, the FRA also empowers the president to raise the threshold above 3% under certain conditions.

    It should, however, be noted that Legit.ng cannot determine whether or not the coronavirus pandemic can constitute what the Act refers to as a threat to national security or Nigeria’s sovereignty.

    Claim 2: Alleged contravention of FRA escaped the notice of the Buhari administration

    Findings by Legit.ng indicate that Mr Abubakar’s claim that the Buhari administration did not notice the deficit is above the three percent threshold is false.

    In a bid to defend his claim, Mr Abubakar stated that the alleged contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 escaped the notice of the Buhari administration.

    He said: “That this escaped the notice of the Buhari administration shows a glaring lack of rigour in the formulation of the Budget. A very disturbing development.”

    Indeed, President Buhari noted in his speech at the National Assembly that the ₦5.20 trillion deficit “represents 3.64 percent of estimated GDP”.

    The president added that the deficit is “slightly above the 3 percent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007”.

    In what appears to be a reference to the Part II, Section 12 Subsection 2 earlier quoted in this piece, the president cited the coronavirus pandemic to justify the 3.64% deficit.

    “It is, however, to be noted that we still face the existential challenge of Coronavirus Pandemic and its aftermath; I believe that this provides a justification to exceed the threshold as provided for by this law,” President Buhari said.

    Claim 3: Nigeria had a GDP of approximately $447 billion in 2019

    The claim that Nigeria’s 2019 GDP is approximately $447 billion is mostly true. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s 2019 GDP is $448.12 billion.

    To arrive at the “over 3.5%” percent deficit claim, Mr Abubakar used the 2019 GDP which he alleged to be approximately $447 billion.

    Source: World Bank

    Claim 4: Nigeria’s 2020 GDP has fallen from 2019 figures

    The claim that Nigeria’s GDP has fallen is true. The GDP, according to the 2020 second quarter report of the National Bureau of Statistics, “decreased by –6.10%(year-on-year)”. 

    Mr Abubakar said since he based his calculation on the 2019 GDP, the “₦5.21 trillion budget deficit is actually far above the 3% threshold stipulated by the FRA”, claiming that the GDP has fallen sharply from the 2019 figures.

    The decline was attributed to the damaging impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Also, the GDP growth in the third quarter of the year has been projected by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be negative.

    Claim 5: 2020 GDP projected by World Bank to be between $400 billion and $350 billion

    This claim is mostly incorrect.

    The former vice president further claimed that the World Bank and other multilateral institutions have projected the GDP “at somewhere between $400 billion and $350 billion.”

    In June 2020, the World Bank estimated in a report that Nigeria’s economy would likely contract by 3.2% in 2020. This indicates that the GDP will be about $433 billion, down from $448.12 billion it was in 2019.

    Also, the IMF projected -5.4% GDP growth for Nigeria in 2020. Going by this projection, the GDP is expected to reduce to about $423 billion (also using the World Bank’s figure for Nigeria’s 2019 GDP).

    None of these major forecasts puts Nigeria’s projected 2020 GDP below $N400 billion, contrary to Mr Abubakar’s claim.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Fact-Checking Atiku’s Claims on Nigeria’s Foreign Debt, GDP Growth Between 1999 and 2007

    Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, claimed Nigeria paid off her external debt between 1999 and 2007. Mr. Abubakar also alleged that Nigeria maintained 6% GDP growth within the same period.

    The claim that Nigeria paid off her external debt between 1999 and 2007 is false. Nigeria’s debt records, according to the DMO, indicate the country still had external debt of $3.65 billion as at December 2007.

    However, the claim that Nigeria maintained 6% GDP growth between 1999 and 2007 is mostly true, according to the data from the World Bank, IMF, and BudgiT.

    Full Text

    On Friday, October 2, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, claimed that Nigeria paid off her entire external debt and maintained 6% GDP growth between 1999 and 2007.

    The former vice president’s claims were contained in a viral tweet posted via his verified Twitter handle @atiku.

    The tweet reads: “Between 1999 and 2007, Nigeria paid off her entire foreign debt while maintaining an unprecedented 6% annual GDP growth. Those were periods of national restoration, and I am very proud of the work President Obasanjo and I did for this nation we care so much for. Facts don’t lie.”

    Under the period in question, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo and Mr Abubakar served as Nigeria’s president and vice president respectively.

    Though it was not stated in the tweet, the former vice president’s claims appear to be a response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s earlier statement blaming his predecessors for ‘near destruction of Nigeria’.

    The former vice president concluded his tweet with, “Facts don’t lie.” But how factual or accurate are the two claims he made?

    Verification

    Claim 1: Nigeria paid off her entire foreign debt between 1999 and 2007.

    To confirm the veracity of Mr Abubakar’s claim on Nigeria’s external debt between 1999 and 2007, Legit.ng checked the website of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) for relevant documents.

    The DMO is the federal government’s agency established to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debt.

    According to a report published by the DMO on December 31, 2007, Nigeria’s external debt stock at the end of 2007 stood at $3.65 billion.

    Nigeria’s external debt stock: 1999 to 2007

    In 1999 when Nigeria returned to civilian rule, the country was owing $28.04 billion in external debt, according to the DMO. 

    Further breakdown of the debt stock shows that out of the total external debt, $20.5 billion (about 73%) was owed to Paris Club, a group of official money lenders established in 1956 with its secretariat located in Paris.

    By 2004, the external debt stock had risen to $35.94 billion.

    Source: DMO

    As the debt profile continued to rise, the Obasanjo administration embarked on a campaign for debt relief which eventually paid off in 2005 when “the Paris Club creditors announced the decision in principle, to grant a debt relief package amounting to about US$18 billion out of the US$30.84 billion outstanding as at December 31, 2004.”

    This subsequently reduced the country’s external debt from $35.94 billion in 2004 to $20.48 billion in 2005.

    By the end of 2006, the Obasanjo administration had cleared off the Paris Club’s debt.

    Source: BudgIt

    However, the country still owed $3.5 billion in external debt. Also, the debt stock slightly increased to $3.65 billion by the end of 2007 when the Obasanjo/Atiku administration ended.

    Claim 2: Nigeria maintained 6% annual GDP growth between 1999 and 2007

    Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of goods and services produced in a country in a specific period. It is used to measure how well an economy is doing at any point. 

    According to Stears Business, GDP growth (or economic growth) is expressed in year-on-year terms, that is, how the economy is doing now compared to the same time last year.

    To verify the claim by Mr Abubakar that Nigeria maintained 6% annual GDP growth between 1999 and 2007, Legit.ng pored over the data available on the website of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS). However, the GDP reports available on the portal did not cover the entire period under review.

    In absence of relevant data on the statistics agency’s website, Legit.ng consulted the World Bank’s data on Nigeria’s annual GDP growth. 

    According to the data, Nigeria’s GDP growth rate in 1999 was 0.584%. The GDP growth rates for the rest of the years under review are as follow: 2000 (5.016%), 2001 (5.918%), 2002 (15.329%), 2003 (7.437%), 2004 (9.251%), 2005 (6.439%), 2006 (6.059%), 2007 (6.591%).

    Source: World Bank

    Going by the World Bank’s data, the average GDP growth between 1999 and 2007 is 6.9.

    For further verification, Legit.ng reached out to Dataphyte, a media research and data analytics organisation.

    The organisation cited the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s record of Nigeria’s Real GDP growth from 1980 to 2020.

    According to IMF’s data, Nigeria’s GDP growth rates in the period under scrutiny are as follow: 1999 (0.5%), 2000 (5.5%), 2001(6.7%), 2002 (14.6%), 2003 (9.5%), 2004 (10.4%), 2005 (7%), 2006 (6.7%), 2007 (7.3%).

    Mathematically, the average GDP growth rate during the period is 7.57%, according to IMF’s data.

    Source: IMF

    Also important to consider is the GDP growth report published by BudgiT, a civic organisation simplifying the Nigerian budget and public data for public access.

    The data put Nigeria’s GDP growth rate in 1999 at 0.474%. In 2000, Nigeria recorded 5.318% GDP growth and 4.411% growth in 2001, the data further indicated. 

    The GDP growth rose from 3.785% in 2002 to 10.354% in 2003 when the Obasanjo administration completed its first tenure.

    The administration recorded the highest GDP growth rate in 2004: 33.736%. The growth was not, however, sustained as it dropped to 3.445% in 2005. It rose again in 2006 to 8.211% in 2006. 

    The Obasanjo/Atiku administration left the GDP growth at 6.828% in 2007, according to BudgiT’s data.

    Source: BudgiT

    Considering BudgiT’s data, the average GDP growth rate between 1999 and 2007 is 8.5%.

    Conclusion

    Although the Obasanjo administration significantly reduced Nigeria’s external debt stock, it did not pay off the entire foreign debt as Mr Abubakar claimed.

    Also, though there are at least three varying data regarding Nigeria’s GDP growth rate between 1999 and 2007, Mr Abubakar’s claim that Nigeria maintained 6% GDP growth within the period is mostly true.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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