President Goodluck Jonathan

  • Aboubakar Hima defrauded Nigeria of arms funds in past administration, not in Buhari’s govt

    Claim:  A viral message on social media claims that Buhari’s regime declared a foreign national from Niger wanted for defrauding Nigeria of arms funds approximately $400 million, N400 million and €10 million.

    While it is true that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have declared a Nigerien wanted for defrauding Nigeria of arms funds, it is not true that the deal took place under President Buhari’s regime and the exact amount of the deal is $394million, €9.9million, and N369 Million.  So, this information is misleading.

    Full Text

    The Chief Executive Officer of Societe D`Equipment Internationaux (SEI), Aboubakar Hima, a military contractor and Niger Republic citizen, was declared wanted, in July 2020, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), in a case of criminal conspiracy, contract scam, misappropriation of public funds, money laundering and fraud.

    The EFCC alleged that Aboubakar, received the funds for the purchase of equipment for the Nigerian military and that investigations have revealed discrepancies in the supply of the equipment. Having failed to honour invitations from the Commission. Hima is currently evading investigation, thus the need to declare him wanted.

    Recently, a viral message surfaced on Whatsapp claiming that Buhari’s regime declared a foreign national from Niger wanted for defrauding Nigeria of arms funds in the amounts of approximately $400 million, N400 million and €10 million.

    It reads: ” No one has been fired or prosecuted for this mega fraud. The service chiefs under whom this mega looting occurred have been rewarded with ambassadorial appointments. The National Security Adviser is still in office”.

    Screenshot of post

    The link below the post directed Dubawa to a Facebook page called US Nigeria Law Group that published the story on the 3rd of July with 44 comments and 295 shares.

    Verification

    Dubawa first checked EFCC website to confirm the authenticity of the message, and it revealed that Aboubakar Hima was actually declared wanted but it was for a case of criminal conspiracy, contract scam, misappropriation of public funds, money laundering and fraud to the tune of $394 million, €9.9 million and N369 million, not $400 million, N400 million and €10 million as claimed by the message.

    Screenshot of EFCC website

    Dubawa went further to run a word search and  discovered that the arms procurement saga started in 2015 when president Muhammedu Buhari came into power, and ordered the investigation.

    Barely three months after he assumed office in 2015, Buhari inaugurated a 13-man panel to probe the procurement of arms and related military contracts between 2007 and 2015, the panel ordered the arrest of the National Security Advisor under president Goodluck Jonathan (June 2012 – July 2015) Col. (retd.) Sambo Dasuki; who was allegedly the lynchpin in the saga, on the 17th  November 2015

    The panel said in a report that between 2007 and 2015, there had been ‘extra-budgetary interventions’ for arms procurement, However, very little arms was obtained.

    The actual saga took place under the rule of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government of President Umaru Yar’Adua, who ruled from 2007 until his death in 2010, and Goodluck Jonathan, Yar’Adua’s vice president, took over in 2007 and subsequently won re-election in 2011.

    Dasuki, from March 2012 to March 2015, effectively controlled military procurement during his period in office with no supervision and virtually no input from the Ministry of Defence, so it is not during Buhari’s regime, nor the service chiefs that were rewarded with ambassadorial appointments, and not the current National Security Adviser.

    Conclusion

    While it is true that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have declared a Nigerien wanted for defrauding Nigeria of arms funds, it is not true that the deal took place under President Buhari’s regime and the exact amount of the deal is $394million, €9.9million, and N369 Million.  So, this information is 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

  • Festus Keyamo did not author viral ‘MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS’ Message

    Ganiyat Tijani-Adenle

    Claim: A viral WhatsApp message titled ‘FESTUS KEYAMO DROPS THE MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS – Who are you calling dictator?’ names Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, the author of a critical message seeking to launder the image of the country’s president.

    This message is misleading. Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo is not the author of the message.

    Full Text

    The battle of wits between the supporters of incumbent Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, and his antagonists is one that goes on daily on social media. Nigerian citizens in the country as well as those in diaspora spare no efforts in proving their cases for or against the President. In this particular instance, pro-Buhari author(s) sought to give their claims credibility and thus labelled it as crucial information by the country’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo. The message has been shared several times on WhatsApp.

    Mr. Festus Keyamo, a lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, social commentator, critic, human rights activist and columnist is a supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and a member of his cabinet. He was also the Head of Communications for his presidential campaign team. 

    Screenshot of the beginning of the WhatsApp message

    The Minister of State for Labour and Employment’s name was also signed at the end of the message.

    Screenshot of the end of the WhatsApp message

    Verification

    Dubawa read the 30 paragraph-long message which sought to highlight alleged deficiencies of immediate past presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo, who are both members of the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

    Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan was in power for five years (2010 to 2015) while former President Olusegun Obasanjo ruled as a civilian president for two terms (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007). That is apart from his time as a military ruler from 1976 to 1979. The viral message however only cited alleged abuses of power during Ex-President Obasanjo’s civilian administration.

    The message also cites many supposed virtues of President Muhammadu Buhari (and his administration) as well as extolled the competence of his appointed officers.

    Dubawa sent a text message to Mr. Festus Keyamo on June 16, 2021 to confirm if he was the author of the message and the Minister replied that while he shared some of the views in the message, he did not author it.

    Mr. keyamo said the message “had been circulating since 2018 during the campaigns” of the election that won President Muhammadu Buhari his second term in office, and that the contents of the WhatsApp message are “a sprinkling of a lot of things” he said as the “Director of Communications during the campaigns”.

    Mr. Keyamo also noted that the author(s) of the message actually “pieced them together and added a bit of some other things” which he had not said. He therefore confirmed that the viral message in its current form is not from him.

    Conclusion

    Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo is not the author of the viral WhatsApp message titled ‘FESTUS KEYAMO DROPS THE MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS – Who are you calling dictator?’

    Individuals who wish to share ideas and have them resonate with people have been known to write the names of celebrities, specialists, authority figures and prominent institutions as the sources (of such messages) in order to gain credibility and achieve their communication goals.

  • No evidence Ezekwesili termed Chibok girls’ kidnap plot to tarnish Jonathan’s image

    Claim: A Facebook post claims Ezekwesiki said the Chibok girls’ kidnap was a conspiracy against Goodluck Jonathan.

    Dubawa’s findings, the press release by Mrs Ezekwesili’s spokesperson and her social media posts do not show she made this claim.

    Full Text

    On April 14, 2014, schoolgirls were kidnapped at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state. Following this, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement led by Oby Ezekwesili commenced demanding the release of these girls.

    Recently, a Facebook user @Katch Ononuju made a post on Saturday, May 15, 2021, claiming  Mrs Ezekwesili said the Chibok girls kidnap was a plot to tarnish the image of the then president, Goodluck Jonathan.

    The post also claims that the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala, was sent to the project by “Fulani leaders” who wanted Jonathan out of power for Muhammadu Buhari to take over.

    This post as at Wednesday May 19, 2021,  had generated 35 reactions, 39 comments and 64 shares.

    “Be careful when working with Fulani because their intentions are different from what you think. I was doing “Bring Back Our Girls” Project with Hadiza  Bala  Usman in 2014. I didn’t know she was sent to the project by Fulani leaders to tarnish the image of Goodluck Jonathan for Muhammadu Buhari to win an election.

    Now I believe that “Chibok Girls Kidnapping” was planned to tarnish Goodluck Jonathan’s image for Muhammadu Buhari to win election.”

    Excerpt of Facebook post by Katch Ononujo.

    Screenshot of the Facebook post by Katch Ononuju

    This claim was also posted by South East Nigeria on the same day with 497 shares, and 628 reactions as at Wednesday May 19, 2021.

    Screenshot of the Facebook post by South East Nigeria

    But did Ezekwesili say this? 

    Verification

    Dubawa searched and found the official Facebook profile of Mrs Ezekwesili and found her latest post (21hours ago) to be on this claim. She shared a Twitter post by the Cable fact-checking this claim with a caption making reference to the claim as false.

    “Those who retweeted that #FakeNews with frenzied joy have failed to maintain same energy once we released my statement calling it exactly what it is – patent lie. You see, it is entirely okay to hate Ezekwesili and her Values but know by now, that it is futile to lie against me. I live my Values.”

    Excerpt of the caption used to share the Cable’s Twitter post.

    Screenshot of Ezekwesili’s Facebook post contianing Cable’s Twitter post

    We also found an earlier post by Mrs Ezekwesili with screenshots of a press release by her spokesperson, Ozioma Ubabuko made public on Monday May 17, 2021. The press release described this as a malicious quote by dubious authors to mislead the public.  

    “For seven years, lies and innuendos have been spread about me just because I chose to be live by truth in Land that rewards falsehood. Just because I selflessly take responsibility even in tough circumstances,  when others choose to look away. However, they will never be successful because I am and will always be an overcomer. I’m eternally grateful for who I am.

    Nothing can ever make me regret demanding rescue for those innocent 219 girls of Chibok Secondary School in 2014.”

    Excerpt of Ezekwesili’s Facebook caption.

    Screenshot of Ezekwesili’s Facebook post with the press release

    On her Twitter account, we also found she had shared the fact-check by The Cable debunking the claim.

    “Those who retweeted that #FakeNews with frenzied joy have failed to maintain the same energy once we released my statement calling it exactly what it is – patent lie. You see, it is entirely okay to hate Ezekwesili and her Values but know by now, it is futile to lie against me.”

    Except of Ezekwesili’s Twitter post containing Cable’s fact-check.

    Screenshot of Ezekwesili’s Twitter post

    Dubawa went through her social media pages to find any post or comment around Chibok girls around the said date (May 15 till date) but found none.

    Conclusion

    Dubawa’s findings, the press release by Mrs Ezekwesili’s spokesperson and her social media posts do not show this claim was made by Ezekwesili. There is therefore no evidence for this claim.

  • “God is Allah in Arabic bible…a christian introduced Arabic to Naira notes…” – Are these claims by MURIC true? (1)

    In January 2020, a Lagos based lawyer, Malcome Omirhobo, filed a suit before the Federal High Court against the Federal Government, Central  Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and others over Arabic inscription on Naira notes.

    The lawyer asked the court to absolve the CBN of the mandate to print and circulate Naira notes bearing Arabic inscriptions as a legal tender for a secular state that has English as its official language. 

    Omirhobo is of the view that the presence of the Arabic inscriptions on the Naira notes contravened the provisions of section 10 and 55 of the Nigerian constitution and is in a bid to Islamize the Nigerian state. 

    It is against this backdrop that a Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a group which claims to position itself as a human rights organization promoting,  protecting, and projecting the rights of Muslims, made a couple of claims regarding the claims about the Bible and Arabic inscription on Naira currency.

    MURIC’s claims, projecting ‘facts’, mostly counters arguments of the lawyers and other people against the said Arabic inscription on Nigeria’s Naira.

    Claim 1: The numerical system (1, 2, 3, 4, etc) were invented by a Muslim mathematician by name Alkhawarizmi (died 850) in the 9th century.

    Mostly true 

    Verification: According to Encyclopedia Britannica Al-Khwārizmī, whose full name was Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, (born c. 780 —died c. 850), is a Muslim mathematician and astronomer whose major works introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals and the concepts of algebra into European mathematics. It also states that the hindu-Arabic numerals consisting of a set of 10 symbols – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 – originated in India in the 6th or 7th century and were introduced to Europe through the writings of Middle Eastern mathematicians, especially al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi, about the 12th century.

    Also, G J Toomer, in the Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990)  stated that – it is likely enough that the decimal place-value system was a fairly recent arrival from India and that al-Khwārizmīs’ work was the first to expound it systematically. 

    A quote attributed to Mohammad Kahn cited in the book – The Muslim contribution to mathematics by A A al’Daffa (London, 1978) states inter alia – In the foremost rank of mathematicians of all time stands Al-Khwarizmi. He composed the oldest works on arithmetic and algebra…..The work on arithmetic first introduced the Hindu numbers to Europe….

    A report from the 14th Institute of Electrical  and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Conference held in Uzbekistan in October 2020 also attributed the introduction of Arabic numerals to the West to Al-Khwarizmi.

    Conclusion: All the publications that attributed the Arabic numerals to Al-Khwarizmi stated that he introduced the numerals to the West and the European countries. None of them established the fact that it was invented by him. 

    Claim 2: God is called Allah in the Arabic Bible

    “Interestingly enough, God is called Allah in the Arabic Bible,” as quoted in the statement.

    True 

    Verification: Encyclopedia Britannica states that Allah is the standard Arabic word for God and is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews as well as by Muslims. According to the Encyclopedia – it is believed that God described himself in the Arabic language as Allāh.

    A website christiananswers.net in a post answering to why Arab Christians referred to God as Allah stated – And what about the 10 to 12 million Arab Christians today? They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over nineteen centuries

    Also an Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry on its website clarified that the first-known translation of the Bible into Arabic, which took place in the 9th century, uses the word Allah for God and that Arab Christians were using the word Allah for God prior to the dawn of Islam….

    Similarly a post on Medium by Fatima Karim explaining the similarities between the Muslim and Christian “Allah” posited that – If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word “Allah” being used where “God” is used in English. This is because “Allah” is a word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word “God” with a capital “G”. 

    Fatima used the visualisation below to support her assertion.

    Dubawa went ahead to download an Arabic Bible with English translation to verify further. In verse 11 of Mark Chapter 3, we see that “You are the son of God!” written in the English version is in quotes with an exclamation.  

    Dubawa traced the exact quote with an exclamation to the Arabic version and saw that the Arabic writing for God is similar to what is seen in the visualisation made by FatimaKarim. 

    Also in an audio Bible on YouTube, the reader is heard mentioning the word Allah while reading out loud the book of John. 

    Conclusion: Several search results supported the claim that the Arabic Bible refers to God as “Allah” 

    Claim 3: A christian introduced Arabic inscription to Naira notes.

    “It was not even Nigerian Muslim leaders who brought the idea of Arabic in the Nigerian currency in post-independence Nigeria. The man who initiated it was a Christian, an Urhobo officer, by name General David Akpode Ejoor (rtd). He was the one who introduced the Arabic inscription and the Star emblem into the Nigeria Army crest,” as quoted in the statement.

    Partially True 

    Verification: A blog post on Urhobo Voice attributed the designing of the Army cap badge to David Ejoor while rendering him a tribute after his death in 2019 – it read – The officer who designed the Army Cap Badge and Rank insignias in 1962.

    Also, David Ejoor in page 16 of his book Reminiscences  stated that the idea behind the Arabic inscription and star emblem introduced into the Nigerian cap badge was for Defence and Unity, which are part of what the Nigerian Army stands for – to defend the unity and integrity of Nigeria. 

    In page 16 of the book, Ejoor wrote, “In seeking a new design, I was anxious that the symbol should reflect the duty of the army and should be capable of inspiring officers and men. As I searched, I remembered the battle between the British and the Sokoto forces in 1903. At that battle, the Sokoto forces had carried the Sultan’s flag with an Arabic inscription on it. That Arabic inscription I learnt meant, “VICTORY IS FROM GOD ALONE”.

    However, submission by the CBN in response to the suit by the Lagos-based lawyer did not support the claim that David Ejoor initiated the Arabic inscription on the Naira. CBN noted that the inscriptions on the naira notes dates back to the colonial era.

    The CBN explained that “the naira notes retained the inscriptions with Ajami since 1973 when the name of the Nigerian currency was changed to naira from pounds.

    “The Ajami was inscribed on the country’s currency by the colonialists to aid those without Western education in certain parts of the country, who, back then, constituted a larger part of the populace.”

    Also, a New Yorker report reiterates this assertion. In the report by Caelainn Hogan, the reporter interviews an archivist who says the “Arabic script, had been printed on nearly every note since the naira was introduced, in 1973, and on previous currency as well.” The archivist was able to show this reporter a piece minted in 1945 as evidence that the British pounds used in Nigeria during the colonial era prior to the advent of the Naira had Arabic inscriptions on them. 

    To further verify this claim, Dubawa reached out to a PhD student of African History at the Michigan State University, Ozibo Ozibo. He could not confirm that it was General David Akpode Ejoor (Rtd) that brought the idea of the Arabic in the Nigerian currency in post-independence Nigeria but he, however, provided pictorial evidence that showed the Arabic inscription was on the British Pound used in Nigeria during the colonial era.

    Conclusion: Apart from his book where he tried to document history, no other strong indications point to that fact that it was Ejoor who introduced the Arabic writing into the Army cap badge. However, while there was some evidence to show that David Ejoor introduced the Arabic inscription on the Nigeria cap badge, several searches did not return results that show he was the one that introduced it into the Nigerian currency. 

    Claim 4: Ex-President Jonathan removed Arabic from the Naira 

    “Many of those saddled with the task of uniting us have become instruments of division. Ex-President Jonathan is an example. He removed Arabic from the naira because he listened to hate preachers whom he took along on his futile but numerous trips to Jerusalem,” as quoted in the statement.

    Misleading 

    Verification: An observation of the Nigerian Naira notes show that the Arabic inscriptions are only absent in the 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Naira denominations of the Naira while the 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes still have the Arabic inscriptions.

    Also, reports show that it was only the Arabic inscription  on the 100 Naira note that was removed under Goodluck Jonathan ‘s administration when the note was redesigned by the CBN to commemorate 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation. 

    However, the Arabic inscriptions in the 5, 10, 20, 50 Naira notes were removed during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo  and not under President Goodluck Jonathan. 

    Meanwhile, the Naira is regarded as Nigeria’s monetary unit; it is the official currency for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is divided into 100 Kobos. It was introduced in 1973 to replace the British pound which was in use during the  colonial era. The CBN has the sole authority to issue banknotes and coins. Coin  denominations range from 50 kobo to 2 naira while Banknotes are denominated in values from five to 1000 Naira.

    If the Naira is an official legal tender that encompasses all denominations of the Nigerian currency, it cannot be said that Goodluck Jonathan removed Arabic inscriptions from the Naira because the 100 Naira banknote is not the only Nigerian Naira. 

    Conclusion: It cannot be said that ex-president Goodluck Jonathan removed Arabic from the Naira when there are still Nigerian currencies bearing the Arabic inscription. This claim is therefore misleading. 

    The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Sparkling 92.3 FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Fact-checking Reno Omokri’s claim on Nigeria’s debt profile

    On 10th September 2020, Reno Omokri, an ex-spokesperson to the former president Goodluck Jonathan, claimed that Jonathan met a debt of N7.9trillion when he became president in 2010. He added that in five years, Mr Jonathan only borrowed the sum of N4.7 trillion.

    The claim which was posted on his twitter handle @renoomokri gathered 100 retweets and 283 likes in the first forty-two minutes. He also advanced that the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, met the debt of N12 trillion and has borrowed N18.9trillion.

    “Let me shock Nigerians: @GEJonathan met a debt of ₦7.9 trillion in 2010. In 5 years, he borrowed ₦4.7 trillion. He built Abuja-Kad rail, 14 universities, etc. General @MBuhari met a debt of ₦12 trillion and borrowed ₦18.9 trillion. What has he done with the debt? #BuhariTormentor” he tweeted.

    Former President Jonathan who was the vice president to President Umar Musa Yar’Adua was named the acting president on February 9, 2010, after the invocation of the doctrine of necessity when the late president Yar’Adua left the country for medical treatment in November 2009. 

    He was sworn in as the president of Nigeria following the death of his principal on May 5, 2010.  He left office in 2015 after losing his re-election bid to the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari.

    In 2019, Mr Buhari got re-elected after defeating his archrival, Abubakar Atiku, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election.

     THE CLAIMS

    Claim 1:

    That former President Goodluck Jonathan met a total debt of N7.9trillion when he became president in 2010 and borrowed the sum of N4.7 trillion for various developmental projects

    Claim 2:

    That president Muhammadu met a debt of N12 trillion naira in 2015 and has borrowed N18.9 trillion

    Findings on claim 1

    Although Mr Omokri did not provide the exact date Mr Jonathan took over in 2010 in his claim, The ICIR visited the website of Debt Management Office (DMO) to obtain documents of Nigeria’s debt profile between 2010 – 2020.

    According to the 2010 annual report of the Debt Management Office (DMO), the total public debt outstanding rose in 2010 and was traced to borrowings from both external and domestic sources. The increase in the external debt component came largely from multilateral sources.

    The total public debt outstanding at the end of 2010 (external and domestic debt of the Federal Government) was N5,234,822,824.917 trillion (US$35,093.10 million) at an official CBN exchange rate of N149.17/US$1 as of December 2010. This represented an increase of N1,383,551,851 trillion(US$9,275.68 million), or 35.93 per cent when compared to N3,851,121,952 trillion (US$25,817.42million) at the end of 2009. 

    The increase came from both the external and domestic components of the total debt stock, with the latter accounting for the bulk (93.3 %) of the total increase. 

    The significant rise in the domestic debt can be traced to the N1,244,376,204 trillion (US$8,342.43 million) issuances of new FGN bonds to fund projects in key growth sectors of the economy and to finance the 2010 budget deficit.

    As at the end of March 2015, Nigeria’s total internal and external debt stock stood at N12.06 trillion or $63.5 billion, up from N11.2 trillion or $67.726 billion in December 2014 according to figures released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on March 31, 2015.

    Verdict: False 

    The claim that former President Goodluck Jonathan met a total debt of N7.9trillion when he became president in 2010. According to the debt management office, as at Dec 31, 2010, Nigeria’s public debt was N5,234,822,824.917 trillion. 

    Claim 2

    Barely a month after the emergence of Mr Buhari as president in 2015, the debt management office published a report which pegged Nigeria’s debt profile at N12.12 trillion as of June 2015. 

    Also, as of June 30, 2020, the agency in its report on the country debt profile said the total Public Debt Stock which comprises the Debt Stock of the Federal Government, the 36 State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at ₦31.009 Trillion.

    A breakdown of the figure showed that external debt accounts for 36.65 percent of the country’s total debt. According to a recent NBS report on Nigeria’s public debt profile, the total external debt stands at N11,363,243.93 trillion, of which the Federal government accounted for #9,824,282.88, representing 31.68 percent of the external debt while state governments and the FCT accounted for 1,538,961.05, representing 4.96 percent of the debt

    Also, the domestic debt of the country’s total debt profile accounted for #19,645,398.21 trillion, representing 63.35 percent. Of the domestic debt, the federal government has a total of 15,455,699.13 trillion, representing 49.84 percent while the state governments and the FCT accounted for 4,189,699.08 trillion, representing 13.51 percent of the debt.

    According to DMO, the increase was necessitated by the USD3.36 Billion Budget Support Loan from the International Monetary Fund, New Domestic Borrowing to finance the Revised 2020 Appropriation Act including the issuance of the ₦162.557 Billion Sukuk, and Promissory Notes issued to settle claims of Exporters.

    Verdict:

    It is TRUE that president Muhammadu met a debt of #12 trillion naira in 2015 and has borrowed #18.9 trillion to finance critical infrastructure projects.  

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

  • APC bigwig, Joe Igbokwe, cuddles misinformation to buoy party image

    An All Progressives Congress (APC) party leader, Joe Igbokwe, deploys varieties of cheering photographs on Facebook claiming they are that of the recently reopened Akanu Ibiam Airport in Enugu state.

    The Facebook pictures are mostly misleading because many of them are those of other airports, rather than the just reopened Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

    Full Text

    The Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State, which was closed down for repairs in August last year, was reopened on August 30th with the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirka, and several dignitaries in attendance to certify the airport satisfactory to commence operations.

    The aviation boss stated that the airport was certified to commence local flights while international flights will only resume on the 5th of September. 

    Several reports highlighted the uncompleted state of some sections of the airport which suggested they are still undergoing construction. 

    However, several images have been paraded on social media, all claiming to be the new state of the Akanu Ibiam Airport. 

    A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Joe Igbokwe, made a splash of pictures purportedly of the airport on his Facebook post, where he used these pictures to compare the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan with the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. His ‘pic 1’ portrays the state of the airport under Jonathan’s administration while pics 2 to 5 depict the state of the same airport under Buhari.

    In the post, which garnered over 80 shares and 139 likes within few hours of going live, Igbokwe listed names of some officials in the Jonathan and Buhari’s governments and then wrote:  

    Sixty years after independence, provision of basic amenities like this airport should not be a key performance index for leaders…But rate the two teams yourself and tell us who failed and who is succeeding…Tell us who is your true friend and who is your enemy?

    Tell us which of the two teams should be called OHANEZE NDIGBO CLASSICALS!

    Verification

    A google reverse image search of all the photographs reveal very dramatic representations. Whereas pic 1 is truly that of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, pics 2 and pic 3 are not. They are images of the Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano  https://www.faan.gov.ng/mallam-aminu-kano-international-airport/ 

    The search also revealed pic 5 as that of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja. Search for pic 6 returned no results as the origin could not be traced. The search also traced pic 4 back to several reports and blog posts that have used the same image referring to it as the Akanu Ibiam Airport. However, we couldn’t ascertain the location of the image.

    Conclusion

    The Facebook post is misleading as most of the pictures used to depict the just reopened Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu are of other airports.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Sparkling 92.3 FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Explainer: How Not to Use Twitter Parody Accounts

    When Babatunde Olusola (known on Twitter as Shola, @jayyth3dope) sent a tweet about Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, on the 5th of May, 2020, using a parody account, little did he know he had signed up to spend “almost 90 days in detention.”

    According to a thread of tweets he posted on August 21, he had converted his personal account into a parody and used it to respond to a question on the (Twitter)  timeline: “who else noticed Nigeria has been boring ever since Buhari became the president?”

    “So I quoted the tweet saying “my wife was always the joke,” Olusola wrote. 

    “I only made a harmless tweet that very evening but unfortunately I got arrested May 23rd😩😩❤️,” he added.

    He was subsequently arrested by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives and whisked away from Ogbomosho to the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), Abuja, where he was kept behind bars for days before being charged to court for impersonation, according to his account.

    This incident has brought forth heated arguments regarding the use of parody accounts on Twitter.

    While many Nigerians, especially on Twitter, condemned the treatment meted out on Olusola, a few others believed he was wrong to have created the parody account and used it to “insult” the former president’s wife.

    This brings to fore the arguments on the appropriate use of parody accounts.

    What’s a Twitter parody account?

    Parody accounts on Twitter and other social media platforms are those usually named after popular personalities and organisations mainly for humorous or satirical purposes.

    Key requirements for using Twitter parody accounts

    Twitter rules permit the use of parody accounts. However, there are certain requirements that must be met.

    First, the bio of a parody account “should clearly indicate that the user is not affiliated with the subject of the account.”

    “Non-affiliation can be indicated by incorporating, for example, words such as (but not limited to) “parody,” “fake,” “fan,” or “commentary.” Non-affiliation should be stated in a way that can be understood by the intended audience,” Twitter rules state.

    Also, the account name, which is separate from the username, or @handle, should clearly indicate that the user is not affiliated with the subject of the account. 

    For instance, a parody account named after President Muhammadu Buhari should clearly state it is not an official page of the Nigerian president. 

    A good example is @TheMBuhari on Twitter, a parody account used to humour or satirize President Buhari. The account name is Parosident Spending while the bio clearly states that it’s a parody account.

    A screenshot of a Twitter parody account, @TheMBuhari

    Not clearly indicating that such an account is not that of the president will amount to impersonation, a punishable offence under the law. 

    It could also cause misinformation, especially from the audience who might be misled to think it’s the president’s official page.

    In 2018 for instance, a fake Twitter account named after Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar, @TheAtiku, tweeted that the Nigerian politician thanked “the Association of Nigerian Gay Men (ANGAM)” for their endorsement of his presidential ambition. 

    Many Nigerians were misled, thinking the tweet was coming from the former vice president who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections.

    The Twitter account has since been suspended. This could have been averted if the user had clearly stated the account was a parody and the tweets weren’t authored by Atiku.

    In the case of Olusola, even though he indicated that the account does not belong to ex-President Jonathan in his bio, he didn’t indicate such in the account name (Goodluck E. Jonathan), in line with the Twitter rules. 

    Thus, the parody account in question, @jayythedope, also got suspended.

    A screenshot of Olusola’s suspended parody account. Source: @jayyth3dope

    Owners of parody accounts that do not follow the stipulated guidelines earlier highlighted may be accused of impersonation, sued accordingly, and have their accounts suspended by Twitter. 

    Nevertheless, Twitter says it will not remove any account for impersonation if the “user shares your name but has no other commonalities, or “the profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to any similarly-named individuals or brands”.

    Parody accounts in the eyes of the Nigerian law

    Olusola who created the parody account named after ex-President Jonathan was charged for impersonation under Section 22 (3)(c) of the Cybercrimes Act, according to Tope Akinyode, one of his counsels. 

    Akinyode says, however, that parody accounts cannot amount to impersonation under the Nigerian jurisprudence.

    Specifically tweeting on the Olusola saga, the lawyer says “the requirement of the law is that Ex President Goodluck Jonathan must prove that Babatunde (Olusola)’s parody account has caused disadvantage to himself or other persons.”

    Similarly, Inibehe Effiong, another legal practitioner, says “using a parody account is not impersonation except there is a fraudulent intention.”

    Nonetheless, a Nigerian lawyer who is also remotely involved in the Olusola saga, Abdul Mahmud, says “parody account, distinguished from impersonation, is a grey area in our statute book. 

    Mahmud also advised against the use of people’s image without their consent.

    “As I’ve always advised folks, please, don’t use people’s images if you don’t have their consents,” he added.

    “However, if you do use the someone (sic) else’s image and name, don’t defame him or her. A joke can be defamatory.”

    Meanwhile, controversies over the use of Twitter parody accounts are not limited to Nigeria alone. 

    In the United States for instance, a college student named Zachary Felton created a Twitter account to parody his professor, Todd Levitt. He named the parody account Todd Levitt 2.0 and used it “to make light of the plaintiff’s marketing strategy”.

    In line with Twitter rules, the parody account’s bio stated that it was “a badass parody on our favorite lawyer”. 

    Upon discovering the parody account in June 2014, Professor Levitt sued Felton for defamation.

    The court, however, dismissed the suit, issuing an order stating the parody was protected under the US’ First Amendment. 

    The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.”

    “The tweets were meant to ridicule and satirize plaintiff’s social media presence in a humorous way,” the court ruled.

    “It is clear that Todd Levitt 2.0 cannot reasonably be interpreted as anything other than a parody account.”

    Another popular and recent example is that of an American congressman, Devin Nunes, who in March 2019 sued Twitter and at least two parody accounts poking fun at him; “Devin Nunes’ cow” (@DevinCow) and “Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom).

    Devin Nunes’ cow, satirizing the congressman who is a former dairy farmer, pretends to be a cow while the other, Devin Nunes’ Mom, pretends to be his mother.

    The Republican congressman was seeking $250m (£188m) in damages for “abusive, hateful and defamatory” content.

    However, in June 2020, the court dismissed Nunes’ defamation suit against Twitter, citing a United States’ federal law which protects social media companies from being held responsible for what individuals post on their sites.

    Twitter also refused to reveal the identities of those behind the parody accounts, restating its “commitment to freedom of expression and privacy.”

    While the social media giant has since suspended @DevinNunesMom, following a complaint by Nunes’ real mother, according to Independent UK, the other account, @DevinCow, remains active.

    This article is a republished content from Legit.ng per our Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with newsrooms and media organisations.

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