Femi Fani-Kayode

  • 2022: Three Key Areas To Expect Misinformation in Nigeria

    For most fact-checkers, 2021 is not a year to forget so quickly. It was the year they saw a plethora of false information about the novel COVID-19 vaccine; false theories about the cure for coronavirus and the metamorphosis of the COVID-19 virus from the delta to the omicron variant currently raging. 

    While the year might have proven itself a hard nut to crack, it has undoubtedly  left lots of viable lessons behind. Lessons not just for journalists but also to everyone who was not oblivious to the previous year’s drama. 

    As such, entering 2022 may be perceived as the soothing point that should set the pace for a calmer and less dramatic season, with a hopeful perspective that most citizens should hold, but perhaps not for fact-checkers, especially those in Nigeria who may be up for a big fight this year in these key areas. 

    The 2023 general election

    The 2023 general elections  are slated to be held in about a year.  Anyone familiar with the sociopolitical context of Nigeria would recall the  common knowledge that the year preceding a general election in Nigeria is charasterically as hot as the actual election year. Candidates announce their interest, political parties hold primary elections, and the dissemination of inter-party or inter-candidate allegations to gain an advantage becomes fraught or volatile. 

    For example, in 2018, warming up to the 2019 general election in Nigeria, Lauretta Onochie, a Special Assistant on Social Media to President Muhammadu Buhari was criticised on Twitter and forced to apologise to Nigerians after sharing a picture of a road in Rwanda, which she claimed was constructed by the Buhari administration in Nigeria. 

    “My big mistake, apologies to all, friends and wailers alike. It won’t happen again,” Lauretta apologised, but not after the information had already gone viral. 

    The claim was shared by Lauretta Onochie on Twitter. The picture depicts an acclaimed road construction by the Buhari administration. Source: Twitter Screenshots

    Still, in the same year,  2018, just months after her false road claims, Onochie claimed that Atiku Abubakar, her principal’s chief opposition and presidential candidate for the 2019 election, had shared food and money during his campaign rally to lure voters.  

    She accompanied the claim with an image of food packs with 500 notes attached to it: “saying keep them in poverty, then give them handouts. Atiku in Sokoto yesterday”.

    But unlike Onochie’s earlier false claim, the narrative she wove about Atiku also turned out to be   false, as multiple fact checks conducted showed  the image she shared was taken from a charity event. 

    While she again apologised, Onochie explained that “The story I posted was true”. “It’s the images that were the issue. I pulled it down, and I have apologized. I have never deliberately posted fake news and I never will,” she added. Yet her statement was not entirely true, as the tweet still remains on her twitter page till date. 

    The claim was shared by Lauretta Onochie on Twitter. Picture shows alleged  incentives shared by Atiku Abubakar to induce voters in Sokoto. Source: Twitter screenshots

    Even more, in a fact-check conducted by AFP on a pro-Atiku claim, the platform wrote: 

    “As the final hours tick down until Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election, a video has surfaced on Facebook claiming to show US President Donald Trump endorsing opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. Trump has made no such endorsement, and the video was a doctored version of footage showing the American president in October 2017, signing an executive order weakening the health reforms known as Obamacare.”

    Yet that’s not all, rumors about top political figures defecting to other parties usually makes the trend. In 2018, a number of claims circulated when some members of the National Assembly  defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This year,   misinformation in this area is most likely to erupt since Rabiu Kwankwaso, a prominent politician and former presidential aspirant, has already debunked a claim about him defecting from PDP to APC. 

    Even more, president Buhari’s reluctance to openly endorse anyone as his successor may also open up space for debate and possibly breed misinformation. These  few instances of misinformation  created ahead of the  previous general election not only predict   possible  recurrence this year, but possibly a slew of electoral misinformation a year to the general elections. 

    The Covid-19 vaccine

    In an interview conducted by Nigeria Health Watch on “How misinformation impacts COVID-19 vaccine uptake,” some respondents bared their thoughts. 

    “Nobody can convince me to take the COVID-19 vaccine. I don’t trust the government to give me anything that is free and good for me. Nothing is free in Nigeria. I know they want to insert a microchip in us so that they can control us,” Mary was quoted as saying.

    “I would rather travel to Ghana or Dubai to take the vaccine than take it here in Nigeria. I trust the vaccine itself, but I don’t think the one they’re giving us here in Nigeria is real,” another respondent, Babatunde, was quoted as saying.

    While these are just two perspectives regarding acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, the responses signal the extent  of misinformation in rooting unfounded narratives around the vaccine. Relatedly,  current data from World Health Organization indicates that  as of 3 January 2022, a total of 15,485,143 vaccine doses have been administered in Nigeria. Though this is a remarkable increase in number, the achievement was not without the massive media  campaign initiated to fight against instances of viral misinformation disseminated. 

    Prominent figures like Dino Melaye and Femi-Fani Kayode, who also dissuaded people from taking the vaccine, caused a serious setback to the campaign. However, thankful to the numerous efforts of fact-checkers, the duo not only restated their stands, they  also took the vaccines. 

    Femi-Fani Kayode’s tweet against the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: Twitter Screenshot

    Yet with all this improvement, the fight is apparently not over, as the number of vaccinated persons is not nearly a quarter of the total population of the country. Also,  the emergence of multiple theories about the effect and people’s reaction to the vaccine in the last quarter of 2021 signals the prospect that  this topic, though reminiscent  of  the 2021 trend, is not likely to diminish in 2022. 

    Security (insecurity)

    The topic of security in Nigeria is no doubt a viral one.  Last year, Dubawa debunked over 100 security related claims. 

    False and sensitive claims emerging in the form of videos, images, voice notes and even forged screenshots were used to spread false security claims. 

    These claims were not only found to have caused panic but also to have instigated a lingering fear amongst the Nigerian populace. Though most of them were fact-checked almost instantly,  their wide negative impact was not a matching feat. 

    Till the last quarter of 2021, security issues that relate to banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram and even ritual killings have been sensationalised by fake news merchants to either exaggerate the situation or tilt the narrative. 

    This was perhaps  why the Commonwealth Security Group wrote that:

    “Whilst disinformation and false news stories are a well-known and much maligned phenomenon of elections and political campaigns, less is understood of their direct threat to national security. This Situation Insight explores the threat that disinformation poses to security in Nigeria, where efforts are being taken at state and national levels to address false news stories that are stirring up intercommunal violence and hampering effective emergency response efforts.”

    This further reinforces the continued importance of fact-checking as regards security, not just in 2022 but in years to come. As such, until complete peace reigns in Nigeria, the possibility of security related misinformation is not only predictable but also anticipated by many people, given the experience of 2019.   

  • Fani-Kayode shares unrelated photos to depict military onslaught on bandits in Zamfara

    Claim: Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, recently shared some photos to celebrate what he claimed to be scenes of an onslaught on bandits in Zamfara and other northern states by the Nigerian army. 

    The pictures shared by the former minister are from separate events both within and outside the country. Some are at least four years old. 

    Full Text 

    On September 7, former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, took to social media handles to celebrate the victory of the Nigerian army over bandits in the northern states, particularly Zamfara where the government had declared a shutdown of telecommunication services.

    He attached pictures to a post that reads: “In Zamfara state and all over the core North today our brave fighters and gallant warriors are KICKING THE ARSE and beating the daylights out of the bloodthirsty killer bandits and blood-lusting murderous terrorists… This is like music to my ears! I am proud to be a Nigerian again! Keep going boys and hit them with all you have got. Thanks for your courage and sacrifice! Al Hamdu! Praise the LORD! Glory, Hallelujah! 👏💪❤💥💯💣👌✊👍🙏 🇳🇬”

    Screenshot of the Facebook post

    This post has garnered over 1,000 likes and reshared by 176 people.

    Screenshot of the same post on Twitter

    The Nigeria Communications Commission had ordered network operators to suspend telecommunications networks in Zamfara State to disrupt communication by bandits.

    The network outage which started on September 3 and was initially planned to stop on September 17 has since continued, following an announcement by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, noting that the ban on mobile telecommunications networks will remain until security personnel win the fight against insecurity in the state.

    Zamfara in Northwest Nigeria is one of the states worst hit by banditry in the country which has been attributed to the fact that it is mostly surrounded by forests (with little or no government presence) from where bandits launch their attacks on outlying towns, highways, and villages.

    In July, a survey conducted by SBM Intelligence showed that about 2, 371 persons have been abducted across the country within the first six months of the year.

    The report indicated that Niger State recorded the highest number of persons abducted, with 643 victims in 28 kidnap incidents, while 58 people were killed during the abductions.

    This was followed by Zamfara State with 519 kidnap victims in seven incidents leading to the death of 22 people, while Kaduna State recorded 360 kidnap victims in 26 incidents, leading to the deaths of 41 persons.

    Fani-Kayode’s social media applause comes amid his cross-carpeting to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party. 

    Last Thursday, 16th of September, the former Minister of Aviation formally joined the APC.­

    Prior to this, Fani-Kayode has taken to applauding APC governors and even the President, Muhammadu Buhari, whom he had, on several occasions, criticised. 

    Verification

    A Google Reverse Image Search of the images showed that the photographs shared by Fani-Kayode to his 711 thousand followers on Facebook and 1 million followers on Twitter were taken from other platforms both within and outside the country. 

    Further checks by Dubawa revealed one of the photos dates back to 2017 as seen on the Defense Nigeria site alongside other pictures with the title, “Operation Lafya Dole: Ground Component. The Assault and Capture of Sambisa.”

    Screenshot of the recycled image used on Defense Nigeria website in 2017

    The second photo which was first seen online on May 16, 2019 was taken when Police officers paraded 93 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers before the press in Katari Village along the Abuja/Kaduna highway, in Kaduna State.

    The police also displayed a huge cache of weapons recovered from the criminals. The story was also published here.

    Screenshot of another image which dates back to 2019

    Using the InVid reverse image search buttons, the third image shared by Fani-Kayode was seen on a website used in a story on April 8, 2021.

    The same photo had been used for generic illustration by Legit.ng in June 2021.

    Screenshot of the image on Legit.ng in April, 2021

    Another image shared by Fani-Kayode had been used on TVC Entertainment website as far back as August 2016.

    Screenshot of the image on TVC Entertainment website in 2016

    The image of a test of weapons shared by Fani-Kayode had been taken from North Korea. A report in the Telegraph UK showed that the photo was taken at an undisclosed location in the country. 

    Screenshot of the image on a foreign website from August 2020

    Conclusion

    The photographs shared by the former minister were recycled as they are not a true representation of the activities happening in Zamfara State. However, the governor of the state had claimed military recorded success in their operations against bandits during the period.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with SaharaReporters to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Viral Video Depicting IPOB Members Protesting Kanu’s Re-Arrest Is From 2015

    Elizabeth Ogunbamowo

    Claim: A viral video resurfaced on Wednesday, 30th June 2021 claiming members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) staged a mass protest against the recent rearrest of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. It showed IPOB members displaying their flags and chanting war songs.

    The viral video is misleading as it is a 2015 video which resurfaced and is being circulated to sell a narrative that IPOB members constituted a nuisance after the arrest causing a lot of gridlock in Port Harcourt.   

    Full Story

    On Tuesday, 29th June 2021, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, announced the re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

    Malami said Kanu was intercepted through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian Intelligence and Security Services on Sunday 27th June. 

    He said Kanu had been brought back to Nigeria in order to continue facing trial for 11-count charge against him after jumping bail in 2017.

    Kanu was first arrested in Nigeria on October 14, 2015, following years of his campaign for the sovereign state of Biafra.

    He was granted bail in April 2017 but fled the country after soldiers invaded his residence in Abia state during a military clampdown on IPOB members.

    While on the run, the separatist leader piloted the affairs of IPOB from abroad.

    His rearrest had sparked heated reactions across the country’s political landscape, particularly among those backing activities of IPOB. 

    Not long after Kanu’s rearrest, social media users started sharing a video of IPOB members protesting on a street in Port Harcourt and causing a lot of unrest linking it to the warning.

    Screenshot of the video on YouTube

    Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, took to his Facebook page to share the same video with the caption, “Marching for Nnamdi! I repeat this man must not die in detention.” The post has since gathered over 6,000 likes on the platform with 4,000 shares. 

    He also shared the video on Twitter and it had raked in over 1,900 retweets and 2, 600 likes as of the time of Tuesday, June 6.

    Screenshot of the video on Twitter

    On Youtube, the video has also been shared by some pages such as an online blog titled ‘Daily Post,’ a mimicry of the original news medium, Daily Post. This blog, a pass off of Daily Post, also published a story to this effect on its website.

    Screenshot of the video on the ‘Daily Post’ YouTube channel
    A screenshot of the story on the blog

    Other Youtube Channels on which this video was shared include: Ikeja Online Tv, Biafra Channel TV,  Val Obi Channel among many others. 

    The video

    Dubawa observed that the video that has gone viral on social media appeared in various lengths. One was 8 minutes 22 seconds long while another appeared in 4 minutes 25 seconds; another version which was shared was 4 minutes, 38 seconds. The video showed protesters who appeared to be members of IPOB in vehicles and on foot en masse on the streets with the Biafran flag.

    A YouTuber who shared the video on June 30, said in the background, “It is happening right now in Igweocha Rivers State, Igweocha is boiling right now, our people brothers and sisters have come out to protest the arrest of our great leader. Zoo government can’t silence us, no they can’t do that, we can’t be discouraged, Biafra is here. We are here.” 

    Forty seconds into the video, a man and a lady could be heard in the background shouting. “Nna eh (Igbo word meaning Father), e dey happen for Port Harcourt oh, Biafra, Biafra, here we are, O boy see the crowd. This is the state of Biafra at Igweocha. They want to bring down the Nigeian flag, this is Biafran land. Yes, this is Biafra! Biafra, here we are, at Igweocha, declare the state of Biafra. They have removed the Nigerian flag. For Buhari to tamper with Nnamdi Kanu, he is finished. Buhari must obey Biafra.

    Dubawa also observed an icon at the right-hand corner of the video which represents that of a video editing app, Kine Master. The Youtuber used this video editing app, Kine master to select and edit the videos.

    Screenshot of the video on Ikeja Online TV

    Another Youtuber, Val Obi, rotated the same video before posting on his channel. While the original version of the video and other copies of the video showed a red truck on the left-hand side of the recorder, this YouTuber changed the view to the right hand.

    He claims, “There is rioting at the moment in the city of Igweocha Port Harcourt following the arrest and detention of Mazi Kanu.”

    From checks, the video had originated in 2015. One of the YouTube channels, NNTV – Africa posted the video as far back as October 31, 2015, in three parts. Part one of the video is what has been copied and recirculated as a recent video.

    Screenshot of the 2015 version of the video

    IPOB had earlier in a statement issued on 30th of June had urged its members to remain calm and had only declared that its members will flood Abuja for Kanu’s trial on July 26 and 27 as stated. 

    The statement issued by the group’s spokesman Emma Powerful had read, “…Our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Government. This evil crime of kidnapping was masterminded by the Nigerian Government in collaboration with all those that view IPOB and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as a stumbling block against their bid to hold Biafra in perpetual slavery.

    “We, therefore, enjoin every IPOB member both at home and in the Diaspora and all Biafrans to remain calm because this is not the end of the road. Our leader’s next court appearance is July 26, 2021, and Biafrans should mobilize and attend the court hearing.”

    Verification

    This reporter observed the picture quality of the video was not in a very high resolution. 

    With the InVID verification Plugin, the reporter used the analysis tab to get fragments (images) from the video.  

    The reporter further used the available reverse image search engines such as TinEye, Google image reverse search, and Yandex on the fragments produced.

    Screenshot of fragments produced by InVID analysis tab

    While Yandex did not produce any useful results, Google reverse image search showed that the video had been posted several times in the last few days on Facebook, online platforms with most results showing YouTube videos. 

    Screenshot of search results produced by Google reverse image search

    One of the search results showed the same video uploaded on October 21, 2015 titled ‘IPOB Biafra Burning Nigeria Flags in Port Harcourt’. 

    Screenshot of the search result showing the same video uploaded on October 21 2015

    TinEye produced about four matches for the video when a keyframe analysis was conducted showing the same videos being uploaded in 2016 and 2019.

    Screenshot of Tineye search results

    Using the keyframe tab, InVID also allowed for a video fragmentation, where the reporter selected keyframes and with a right-click, more search engines were made available for reverse image search. 

    With this, the Bing search engine brought up the same result of the video uploaded on October 21, 2015 titled ‘IPOB Biafra Burning Nigeria Flags in Port Harcourt’. 

    A keyword search on YouTube also led to the video which was posted on October 31, 2015 on NNTV-Africa titled, ‘Biafra Restoration, Nnamdi Kanu’s Arrest: IPOB Protest in Igweocha (Port Harcourt) Rivers State Part 1”

    Conclusion        

    This Fact check concludes that the viral video of protesters carrying the Biafran flag also with leaves chanting war songs is misleading as the video first appeared online in 2015. Therefore, the video could not have been connected to a recent protest against the rearrest of Nnamdi Kanu in the South-South.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with SaharaReporters to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Spotlighting Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s popular anti-vaccination champion who later took the jab

    On March 30, 2021 a former Nigerian Minister announced on Twitter he had taken the COVID-19 vaccine. Strange news! For over a year since the virus was first detected in Nigeria, his name, Femi Fani-Kayode rang a deterrent bell of anti-vaccination.

    Apart from his many political jabs against the ruling party, fraud allegations and their resultant court cases, Mr Fani-Kayode had before that date, played a leading role in the league of COVID-19 vaccination opposers and confronters.

    At one time, he described the vaccine as a ploy to create a new world order, at another he tagged vaccination an exercise that would result in deaths of millions. To further dissuade his followers, he would tweet unconfirmed information and conspiracy theories being peddled against the virus.

    A regular reference for journalists, Mr Fani-Kayode was once described by a fact-checker as one who makes ‘bogus statements, capitalizing on his large social media followership to spur the spread of disinformation and misinformation.’

    All reports on his conversion (those encountered in the course of research for this report) made references to his earlier comments on the virus but none made pragmatic efforts in measuring the former minister’s previous disparaging comments on his followers.

    Fani-Kayode’s Twitter profile

    On Twitter, the announcement was greeted with mixed reactions. To some, it was only a matter of time, they knew all along he would be vaccinated for travel access. To others, mostly ones who refused to be converted alongside him, another soldier in the fight against vaccination had been lost. A few questioned his advertent mislead of many followers.

    The numbers before conversion

    One of the first notable anti-vaccination tweets by Mr Fani-Kayode came up on March 29, 2020 when he claimed that the virus was a ploy to create a new world order and get United States President, Donald Trump out of power. Elections in the US was about seven months away by then.

    “One of the many objectives of the Illuminati & those that are behind the coronavirus pandemic & the emergence of a New World Order is to get @realDonaldTrump out of power in this year’s pres. election by sparking off a massive recession & crashing the American &world economy,” he tweeted.

    The tweet as of Monday, June 14 had garnered 6,904 retweets, likes and comments and thousands of duplication across many platforms. Some fact-checking efforts were deployed to counter these claims but not long enough, Mr Fani-Kayode released two more fearsome tweets about COVID-19 vaccines.

    On April 30, he warned Nigerians not to take vaccines which by then were in the trial stages. In doing so, he made three unfounded, totally false claims. First, that vaccination would result in millions of deaths, secondly, that Nigeria was about to enact a law to make vaccination compulsory for all, and thirdly, that the vaccines are meant to depopulate the world.

    Fani-Kayode’s tweet on April 30, 2020

    The first of these three claims conform with the popular misconstrued comment of Robert Young, an alternative medicine practitioner, who at a meeting of the conspiracy theory group said that vaccination is a chemical warfare to depopulate the world. The video was widely shared by many but a fact-check revealed that the comment was made earlier in 2019, before the detection of COVID-19, in respect of the different vaccines given to children in the first six years. Despite the fact-checking efforts, Mr Fani-kayode still shared the video in January 2021.

    Two days later, on May 2, he tweeted again, “@WHO are set to begin Covid 19 vaccine trials in our country. EVIL! Not only have our people been turned into Guinea pigs to test Gates’ killer vaccine but our leaders are also passing a law which will make the use of that evil vaccine compulsory. What a mess! I weep for Nigeria.”

    Some of his tweets may, at this period (with multiple vaccine roll out in many countries) come as laughing items, but they were sacred voices of caution when they were made. They were tweeted when a large part of Nigeria was on lockdown enforced to curtail the effect of the virus.

    Infograph: Fani-Kayode’s tweets and their numbers

    The lockdown notwithstanding, over 200, including Abba Kyari, the then Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, had died of the virus; confirmed cases were in total of thousands; patients were treated in isolation centres with close monitoring; worse still, researches on the virus had not reached advanced stages, hence, conspiracy theories held sway. In short, it was a time of panic and tweets by Mr Fani-Kayode readily reinforce people’s fears and biases.

    How then did a panic monger convert?

    The conversion and the dangers inherent in peddling falsehood

    Against the nature of his comments, Mr Fani-Kayode announced on March 30, 2021 he had taken a jab. “Despite my initially strong reservations I bowed to sound logic and superior reasoning and took my Covid 19 vaccine today,” he wrote in a thread of tweets.

    He went further to explain the ‘sound logic’ and ‘superior reasoning’ to include persuasions from his political associates and the fact that his hero, Donald Trump, had taken it, despite initial opposing stance.

    As of morning of Monday, June 14, his announcement tweets had a total of 1, 173 likes, comments and retweets a less than 10 per cent faction of interaction when compared to four of his falsehood spreading tweets examined in this piece.

    Infographics: Fani-Kayode’s false claims fact-checked

    This confirms the concerns of some researchers who have discovered that a good percentage of people who come in contact with false information don’t care about the follow up fact-checks. A recent survey by Zignal labs showed that 86 percent of Americans who read news articles on social media do not always fact-check.

    Not done, the ex-minister still used the opportunity of his vaccination to peddle falsehood about vaccines.

    He wrote in the thread, “The Covid vaccines we are taking in Nigeria are not Bill Gates’ vaccines and neither are we being used as Guinea pigs. These ones are tried & tested, have already been approved & have been administered successfully throughout the world. This is the Oxford Azrazeneca brand.

    “There is a world of difference between what we are being given in Nigeria & the exploratory vaccines that @WHO had wanted to test Africans with which we spoke against & resisted last year.Most importantly Bill Gates& his foundation have no connection with Oxford Azrazeneca.

    “I would not touch anything Bill Gates with a barge pole for obvious reasons. Mark it.”

    One notices that he recounted some of his earlier misinformation about the vaccines but not all that came in contact with the falsehood are impressed.

    One of his followers replied sarcastically; “I praise your patriotism for agreeing to be one of our guinea pigs. Well done.” Another wrote; “nonsense” with rolling eyes emoji.

    Perhaps this reply captures the question you might readily want to ask; “You got convinced by your sister and friend. What about the thousands you convinced and made to see the vaccine as devil products?”

    This publication was produced as part of IWPR’s Africa Resilience Network (ARN) programme, administered in partnership with the Centre for Information Resilience(CIR), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Africa Uncensored.

  • Fani-Kayode’s claims on Nigerian currency in the pre-colonial era false

    Claim: Former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, claims there was an Arabic inscription on the Nigerian currency in the pre-colonial era.

    There was no Nigerian currency in the pre-colonial era, as the entity “Nigeria” came into existence following British colonial rule and amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914. Also, the inscription on the currency in question is Ajami Hausa and not Arabic.

    Full Text

    Nigeria’s diversity, with its multiple ethnicities, religions, and languages, constitutes the country’s rich culture. Sometimes, these different groups are at loggerheads. 

    Over the years, the Nigerian state has been embroiled in rivalries and inter–ethnic struggles for political influence and dominance, most of which are spurred by disinformation and misinformation from notable and influential personalities, including celebrities, religious leaders, and politicians.

    On Saturday May 29, 2021, Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, wrote via his official Twitter handle (@realFFK): “It is interesting to note that there was an Arabic inscription on Nigerian currency even in the pre-colonial era. How do you explain this and what does it tell you???”

    Screenshot of the post

    He attached to the post, a photo of a One Nigerian Pound currency note, once used by the country.

    Exposed to his over 1 million followers, the post had generated numerous engagements – 294 comments, 457 retweets and 957 likes, within six hours.

    The post, believed and supported by many of his followers, formed the basis of their comments.

    For instance, Mahmud Zakariya (@MahmudZakariya4) wrote: “It shows that northern Nigeria Flag of Nigeria is a force to be reckoned with in the country’s politics. No region is as important as the north.”

    Another user, @Favbreed1 commented: “That Nigeria’s colonial masters (Britain) allowed it in a secular nation, is what has emboldened the Fulani…to think Nigeria and its people belong to them and it’s ok to displace them and take over their ancestral lands.”

    Prince Stephen Blossom (@GraciousTongue) wrote: “It tells me that the acclaimed polished & educated Southern leaders were never smart at all. It tells me the reason minor tribes like the Fulani were able to systematically grab Nigeria to themselves. They set an agenda very early, & they planned towards achieving it. That’s it!”

    Supporting the post, @topsy_adeusi also commented: The crisis you see today was 85% created by the British. The North was poor the south had wealth. The British through the sultan in Sokoto decided to enslave the remaining parts of the regions. So, it is not surprising to see those inscriptions. (Saynotobritain).”

    Mr. Fani Kayode has a large social media influence – over 1 million followers on Twitter

    Mr. Fani-Kayode, popularly known as FFK, is known to have in recent times, made bogus statements, capitalizing on his large social media followership to spur the spread of disinformation and misinformation. Examples can be found here and here.

    Verification

    To verify the claims by Mr. Fani-Kayode, Dubawa delved  into Nigeria’s history. Findings reveal that, contrary to the former minister’s claim, there was no Nigerian currency in the pre-colonial era. The Nigerian pre-colonial era refers to the period before the advent of colonial rule in 1914, when the Northern and Southern protectorates were united into a single British colony for administrative purposes. The amalgamation marked the creation of Nigeria.

    Tracing the history of currency in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria notes that “during the pre-colonial era, different cultures used a variety of items as means of exchange. These included cowries, manilas, beads, bottles and salt amongst others.”

    This finding reveals that cowries, manilas, beads and other traditional currencies competently served the functions of money in the pre-colonial era, thus, discrediting Mr. Fani-Kayode’s claim which suggests the existence of a Nigerian currency in the pre-colonial era.

    “It is interesting to note that there was an Arabic inscription on Nigerian currency even in the pre-colonial era. How do you explain this and what does it tell you???”

    Mr. Fani-Kayode attached to his post, the photo of a One Pound note, which he claimed to be a Nigerian currency used in the pre-colonial era.

    Dubawa assessed the currency and observed that it is dated 15th September 1958, which is clearly during the colonial era. As such, there is no possibility that it was in use in the pre-colonial era, as claimed by Mr. Fani-Kayode.

    The currency note shared is dated 15th September 1958 – during British colonial rule and two years before Nigeria’s independence

    Contrary to the claim by the former Minister of Aviation, the inscription on the currency is Hausa Ajami and NOT Arabic, veteran journalist Mannir Dan-Ali revealed in a BBC article. “It is Ajami Hausa, not Arabic, that is on the naira notes,” he wrote.

    “The Ajami writing on each naira note is for the benefit of the tens of millions of Hausa speakers, who can only read and write in that script, which is taught in schools across the North.”

    Mr. Dan-Ali, a former editor-in-chief of the Daily Trust newspaper, explained that Ajami was the first means of literacy on the African continent, centuries before the arrival of Western colonizers and Christian missionaries with the Roman alphabet. 

    Ajami is used across Africa, including for Swahili in East Africa, Nigerian languages like Kanuri, Nupe, Yoruba, Fulfulde and Hausa, and Tamashek, the language of the Tuaregs in North and West Africa.

    Musa Muhammad, an archivist notes that the inscription on the naira is a transliteration of Hausa into Arabic. “The letters on the currency are as secular in origin as the Roman alphabet used in modern Bibles. Any non-Arab language written in Arabic script we call Ajami,” he says.

    A professor of communications at the University of Maiduguri, Abubakar Mu’azu, said the sign on the naira represents the value of the denominations of the naira in Hausa.

    “The Arabic letters used to write in Hausa are called Ajami. An Arab may read it but may not get the meaning unless he/she understands Hausa,” he told Dubawa.

    The Ajami inscription on the currency note shared by Mr. Fani-Kayode says “Pam Daya” in Hausa, which means “One Pound”.

    Conclusion

    Claims by a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, that there was an Arabic inscription on Nigerian currency even in the pre-colonial era, is FALSE. During the pre-colonial era, there was no Nigerian currency. At the time, different cultures used a variety of items such as cowries, manilas, beads, bottles and salt, as means of exchange.

    Moreso, Nigeria did not exist during the pre-colonial era. The country came into being as a result of colonial rule. In 1914, the British colonial government created Nigeria, with the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates.

    Findings have also shown that the inscription on the currency note is in Ajami Hausa and not Arabic, as Mr. Fani-Kayode has claimed.

  • After denigrating COVID-19 Vaccine, Fani-Kayode takes AstraZeneca jab

    A former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    The former minister who has been vocal against COVID-19 vaccines shared a picture of himself taking the vaccine on Twitter on Wednesday. 

    He said the COVID-19 vaccine being administered in Nigeria is not Bill Gates’ vaccine and that there is a huge difference between the vaccine in Nigeria and the exploratory vaccines that the World Health Organisation (WHO) wanted to test on Africans. According to him, it was this exploratory vaccine that he spoke against and resisted last year.

    “The Covid vaccines we are taking in Nigeria are not Bill Gates’ vaccines and neither are we being used as Guinea pigs. These ones are tried & tested, have already been approved & have been administered successfully throughout the world. This is the Oxford Azrazeneca brand” he said in his Twitter post.

    Screenshot of Fani-Kayode’s Twitter posts.

    Before now, on April 30, 2020,  Mr Fani-Kayode in a Twitter post warned against the danger of the vaccine that would be proposed as COVID-19 cure, noting “it will lead to the death of many.”

    Screenshot of Twitter post from April 30, 2020

    In another Twitter thread on May 1, 2020, Fani Kayode said COVID-19 vaccines are part of Bill and Melinda Gate’s plan to kill millions. He added that only a fool will believe that a man who believes in reducing the world’s population will produce a vaccine that will save the world.

    Screenshot of Fani-Kayode’s Twitter Thread from May 1, 2020.

    Looking at his previous tweets, Mr Fani-Kayode was not specific which vaccine he meant but claimed any move to developCOVID-19 vaccines, in general, was part of a plot by Bill and Melinda Gates to kill many.

    Bill Gate has been one name that has suffered a lot of damage when it comes to fake news around the COVID-19 vaccine. From the claim that Bill Gate was offering $10million to house of representatives, to the claim he said at least 3 billion people need to die, to the claim that Bill gate is the cause of the pandemic etc.

    However, all COVID-19 vaccine efforts since early 2020, is a collaborative effort by the multinational pharmaceutical industry and between governments.

    As of February 18, 2021, at least seven different vaccines across three platforms have been rolled out in countries and more than 200 additional vaccine candidates are in development, of which more than 60 are in clinical development.

    Is there a vaccine owned by Bill Gate?

    There is no vaccine owned by BIll Gate. According to data published in the Lancet journal, The Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation has only made commitments and funded the production of some vaccines like the novavax, inovio, Dynavax SK Biosciences, Biological E etc.

    Screenshot of Health Policy data on leading vaccines and their funders

    Is there a WHO exploratory vaccine?

    The WHO has no vaccine it is pushing for any country. This organisation is tasked with monitoring and reviewing vaccines as they are produced for safety and efficiency before recommending any for use. 

    The Astrazeneca in Nigeria which Mr Fani-Kayode has now received was donated by COVAX which is a WHO initiative.

    The aim of the WHO and this initiative is to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, by speeding up the development of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19, supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and working with governments and manufacturers to ensure fair and equitable allocation of the vaccines to all countries.

  • Facebook Fact-Checking Policy Framework and Nigerian Politicians: A Critical Reflection

    By Folarin Jamiu

    In the event of elections around the world in 2020 and challenges posed by political dis and misinformation, stakeholders have raised concerns about the implication of this period for the political process. Multiple approaches have been adopted by stakeholders to address these challenges in the digital public space that is seen as a catalyst to the spread of false information and political propaganda. Facebook is one of the tech companies that provide platforms for dissemination of political messages and has sustained collaboration with fact-checking organisations to flag and label contents on Facebook platforms as a way of bringing sanity to the digital public sphere. Following concerns raised by stakeholders about the negative use of Facebook by politicians on one hand, and of the need, on the other hand, to promote principles of “free marketplace of ideas,” Facebook has been changing its policy to satisfy the two opposing demands. This study therefore undertook an assessment of Facebook policy on fact-checking politicians and reflected on whether this policy has influence on the editorial contents of fact-checking organisations in Nigeria (Africa Check, Dubawa and AFP Hub) which are all signatories to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). 

    The study reviewed the Facebook policies of fact-checking politicians in relation to literature on the same subject and reference to two of the five IFCN principles related to the policy. Assuming that it is the responsibility of the media to make the government accountable as enshrined in the constitution, the study sought to understand the influence of Facebook policy on fact-checking politicians on the editorials of fact-checking organisations in Nigeria? One of the questions that arose from the assessment of Facebook policy is whether fact-checking claims of politicians and political ads amount to “censoring or stifling political discourse”? While reflecting on the above concerns of stakeholders, the study concluded that Facebook finds itself in an ethical dilemma. It also submitted that in view of the available evidence, the Facebook policy on fact-checking politicians has no noticeable influence on the editorial contents of the fact-checking organisations, despite Facebook funding of some fact-checking organisations in Nigeria. The two IFCN principles that serve as yardstick to reach this conclusion are: “Commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness” and “Commitment to Transparency of Funding and Organisation.” 

    The study also observed and recommended as follows:

    • The changes in Facebook policy on fact-checking political claims and ads on its platform was an attempt to maintain a balance between entrenching free speech and bringing sanity to the digital public space often weaponised for political gains.
    • That the exceptions given to politicians and political ads in respect of fact-checking could be termed discriminatory, as similar opportunity is not available to other users of Facebook. Without prejudice to the ethical decision adopted by Facebook, it is instructive to have a general policy that will be binding on all users of Facebook, irrespective of their political, religious, economic, and social status. 
    • There is also a need for international discourse on the challenges occasioned by the ethical dilemma of Facebook and information disorder in the world. The United Nations and IFCN have a role to play to provide the leadership for this engagement. The call for a UN charter on political disinformation and other variants of information pollution is not out of place. This Charter, if enacted, is expected to put to rest the debate over desirability for legal framework or voluntary intervention to address the challenge of dis and misinformation especially on the digital public space. 
    • This is the time that Facebook and other tech companies need to invest more on Media, especially Information and Digital Literacy, to empower social media users to develop defence mechanisms against all forms of disinformation on their platforms. 
    • In addition, the IFCN should sustain its efforts at ensuring that fact-checking organisations across the world are guided by its five code of principles in order to continue to sustain integrity in the fact-checking landscape.
    • There is a need to further investigate the severity of political dis and misinformation on the political process and measure the extent to which the interventions of the tech companies have reduced the negative effect of information disorder in the political system. 
    • Further studies should also explore content analysis of political ads on Facebook and other social media platforms to understand the severity of political disinformation on these platforms.
    [Read full study here]

    FACT CHECKS OF THE WEEK 

    The #EndSARS protest demanding an end to police brutality lasted for two weeks and was peaceful until it was hijacked by hoodlums who burnt police…

    Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on his Twitter handle, @realFFK, recently made some bogus statements. The politician asked if people know…

    Several news websites including ThewillNigeria, Naijadiary reported that Desmond Elliot called for the regulation of social media in Nigeria following the #EndSARS protest. Is this true?


    QandA

    • Are 63% of young Nigerians jobless or underemployed as claimed recently?

    The claim that 63 percent of Nigerians under 30 are either jobless or underemployed is partly true. Nigeria’s Labour Force Statistics for the second quarter of 2020 shows that 34.9 percent of Nigerians aged 15 to 34 years are jobless while 28.2 percent of Nigerians within the same age bracket are underemployed. This means that 63.1 percent of Nigerians within the same age bracket are either jobless or underemployed. However, not all of them are under 30. (Read more here.)


    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 


    #FakeNews Alert 

    • “Hot pineapple ~ can kill cancer cells.” SOURCE: WhatsApp Message

    The image presented above is a screenshot of a WhatsApp Message. The message inferred that hot pineapple water can cure cancer due to certain anticancer substances present in the water. Also, while stating steps in preparing the cure, it advised on usage. Finally, as a common practice with WhatsApp Broadcast Messages, it appeals to readers to share the information further.

    Information of this sort needs to be approached with a huge dose of scepticism.  

    Why? Over time, WhatsApp broadcast messages have been consistent with spreading misinformation while appealing to readers’ emotions and shielding their weaknesses with false attributions. To this end, it is highly important to ascertain the veracity of this post by consulting multiple credible sources before sharing further.


    Other Fact-checks/Articles 

  • Fani Kayode’s claims comparing Europe and Nigerian territories all false

    Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister , Femi Fani-Kayode, on his twitter handle, @realFFK, recently made some bogus statements. The politician asked if people know that Oyo State is larger in terms of land mass than all southeastern states put together; that Ibadan is larger than Belgium and lastly, that the southwest is larger than ninety percent of European countries in terms of  landmass and population. 

    Claims

    The tweet in which Fani-Kayode made the comments has garnered over five hundred likes,over one hundred  and thirty two retweets and about one hundred and fifty-six comments.

    The claims are:

    1.Oyo state is larger than all Southeast states put together

    2.Ibadan is larger that European nation of Belgium

    3.That the Southwest is larger than 90% of European countries in terms of land mass and population?

    A screenshot of the tweet

    The social media post, believed by some of the followers, formed the basis of their comments.

    For instance, John Ezeakolam @JohnEzeakolam reacted to the comment.

    “Amazing geographical & historical facts, why then d reluctance to declare independence nation of Oduduwa today, or is somebody going to argue that this great entity isn’t large enough to be a republic”

    John Ezeakolam replied to the tweet.

    In contrast, Peter-damian Anyanwu @peterdamianAny2 appears not to have believed the tweet. Peter Anyanwu commented in an attempt to clear the air.

    “….as confirmed from Google map reading and land mass study.Oyo vs SE put together.

    Oyo = 28,454 km²  VS SE= Ebonyi – ,5,533km² + Enugu- 7,161km² + Anambra – 4,834 km² + Abia – 6,320km² + Imo – 5,530. Total =29,388km². compare and contrast @realFFk” He replied

    1. Verifying the claim that Oyo State is larger than all Southeast states put together in terms of land mass

    The first claim  suggests that Oyo is larger than Southeast states put together. Oyo, one of Nigeria’s 36 states is locked in the Southwest region of the country alongside five others. The Southeast on the other hand is a region, one of the six regions that make up the Nigerian federation. 

    In verifying the claim that Oyo State is larger than Southeast states put together in terms of land mass, we consulted a record of the 2006 Population and Housing Census, Priority Table Volume 111,obtained from the National population Commission, Ibadan Office. The record indicates that Oyo State has a landmass of 28,245.264 km²

    Size of Oyo state

    The record computes the landmass of the five southeast states as follows; Abia (4,902.24),km²  Anambra (4,816.21)km² Ebonyi (6,421.23)km²  Enugu (7,660.17)km² and Imo (5,182.82)km²

    A sum of this shows that the Southeast has a total landmass of 28,982.67 km²

    The record shows that the Southeast is larger than Oyo State with a margin of 737.406km². Hence the unsubstantiated claim by the former Aviation minister is misleading.

    1. Is Ibadan larger than Belgium?

    Worldometers, a platform dedicated to global statistics, puts the current population of Belgium at 11,599, 720. Similarly, official figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office puts the legally resident population of Belgium at 11,492,641 as of January 1, 2020.

    According to the 2006 Population and Housing Census, the entire population of Oyo state, which has Ibadan as its capital, has a total population of 5,580,894. The census figures didn’t capture the specific figure for Ibadan but data from for the state in which Ibadan is located implies that the entire state is not as big as Belgium, not to talk of Ibadan its capital.www.macrotrends.net put the population of Ibadan as 3,552,000.

    According to available records, it is clear that Belgium is many millions larger than Ibadan in population.

    On land mass, World Bank record puts the size of Belgium at 30,280.0km² while the entire Oyo State which houses Ibadan has a total of 28,245,264km² according to population census conducted in 2006.

    Ibadan, the capital of the State,has eleven local government areas which are; Akinyele (524,298) km², Egbeda (192,895)km² , Ibadan North (27,562)km², Ibadan Northeast (18,077)km², Ibadan Northwest (26,228)km² Ibadan Southeast(17,032)km², Oluyole(635,045)km²,Ibadan Southwest (40,751)km², Ido (996,825)km², Lagelu (342,341) km² and Ona-Ara (292,606)km2.

    Summation of all the eleven local government areas, which make up the metropolis in terms of land mass, is 3,113,573km². 

    The records show that Ibadan is not as large as Belgium either in land mass or population. Therefore, the claim that Ibadan is larger than Belgium is False and misleading.

    1. Is Ibadan bigger than ninety percent of European countries in terms of land mass and Population?

    With reference  to the 2006 Population and Housing Census, southwest Nigeria consists six states: Ekiti (5,887.89)km ,Lagos (3,496.45)km Ogun (16,980.55)km ,Ondo (15,195.18)km, Osun (8,699.84)km and Oyo (28,245.26)km.

    Total land mass of Southwest Nigeria is summed up at 78, 505.17 km² while Europe’s land mass has a total landmass of 22,134,900 Km2 according to worldometer.info.

    By calculation,90% of 22,134,900 (landmass of Europe) equals 19,921,410km². This is much more than the entire land mass of the Southwest.

    Break down  population of the Southwest comprising ; Ekiti (1,535,790) ,Lagos (5,725,116) ,Ogun (2,333,726),Ondo (2,249,548), Osun( 2,158,142) and Oyo (3,452,720) .  The region has a total of 17,455,042 which falls below that of Europe with 747,730,920

    Above figures are clear indicators that Southwest Nigeria is not as big as ninety percent of Europe either in population or land mass.

    90% of 747,730,920 (Population of Europe) is 662,957,828. A record which indicates that the population of the Southwest (17,455,042) is not up to 90% of that of Europe.

    Conclusion

    Substantial parts of the claims, which have attracted hundreds of comments, retweets and thousands Likes, have been confirmed to be false. Ibadan Oyo state capital is not larger than Southeast States put together. The claim that Ibadan is larger than Belgium is equally false as well as the claim that Nigeria’s Southwest region is larger than 90 percent of Europe.

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

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