President Muhammadu Buhari

  • Farmers/herders crisis: Old letter by Alaafin of Oyo recirculated as a recent message to Buhari

    Claim: A report by the Peoples Gazette claims the Alaafin of Oyo wrote the President on the security issues of the South West, noting the Yorubas have what it takes to protect themselves.

    This report is misleading as Dubawa’s search found the report to be based on a recirculated letter from 2019.

    Full Text

    There has been unease in the SouthWest with killings and kidnappings believed to be carried out by Fulani herdsmen. While the Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, issued an ultimatum for herders to leave the state’s forest reserves, the Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde, said issuing an ultimatum is an assault on the herders.

    However, a man named Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, led youths to attack a Fulani settlement in Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State after his seven-day ultimatum for them to leave Igangan expired. It is believed that the community knows those behind the killings and kidnappings.

    This attack defied governor Makinde’s order to make every law-abiding resident feel safe.

    Reacting to this, President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered Mr Igboho’s arrest.

    In the light of this development, a  news report published by the Peoples Gazette on January 22, 2020, claims the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari that the Yorubas have what it takes to protect themselves.

    Screenshot of Peoples Gazette report.

    The Peoples Gazette also published this on it its Facebook account which has over 38,000 followers. 

    Screenshot of Peoples Gazette Facebook post.

    This letter was also shared by Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation Magazine which also shared this on its Facebook page

    Screenshot of Dele Momodu’s Facebook post.

    Verification

    Dubawa conducted a keyword search which led to similar reports by the Eagles Online on January 21, 2021, and the Guardian on January 22, 2021. 

    Screenshot of Dele Momodu’s Facebook post.
    Screenshot of the Guardian’s report.

    This search also led to similar reports in 2019 where the Alaafin wrote to the president on insecurity issues. One report by Premium Times on July 22, 2019, noted that the Alaafin of Oyo wrote to the president on herders’ invasion and other insecurity issues in the west. According to Premium Times, this letter was titled “Yoruba Question in Nigeria Conundrum”.

    Screenshot of Premium Times 2019 report.

    The Cable in July 2019 published a similar report.

    Screenshot of the Cable’s 2019 report.

    Dubawa got a copy of the letter in circulation and studied it in comparison with that issued in 2019. Dubawa noticed similarities in the recent letter and that of 2019 and decided to study it in detail.

    First Dubawa noted that both letters had the same title “Yoruba Question in Nigeria Conundrum”. Also, both letters from the first paragraph to the last have the same content, word for word.

    Reaching out to the sources, Dubawa reached the contact available on the Facebook page of the Peoples Gazette to state their source of the letter.

    The peoples Gazette replied that their report was based on the Guardian’s report.

    “Thank you. We published the Alaafin’s comments based on this report from The Guardian:https://guardian.ng/news/tackle-insecurity-now-before-its-too-late-alaafin-tells-buhari/.”

    Dubawa, therefore, went further to reach the Guardian but there has been no response so far.

    Dubawa also reached out to Mr Momodu via direct message on his Facebook account where the letter was shared and got no response, so far.

    Dubawa further reached out to the Alaafin’s spokesperson, Bode Durojaiye, for comments on issuing any letter recently to the president. 

    Mr Durojaiye said the letter was issued as far back as 2018 and is being recirculated by mischievous people.

    “The open letter was written and widely published as far back as 2018. So the recent recirculation was mischief making,” he said in a telephone conversation.

    Conclusion 

    Dubawa’s findings showed these reports are misleading as this letter is a recirculated letter from 2019 in the wake of new security issues in the South West. The Spokesperson to the Alaafin of Oyo also confirmed the letter to be old.

  • Buhari’s Portrait Manipulated To Make Him Look Fatter ㅡ And It Misled Many

    Claim: Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, is dead and has been replaced in the statehouse with a lookalike: here’s a picture of the lookalike, who has now grown chubby.

    False. The picture is a manipulated version of Buhari’s official portrait as president that was released in 2015.

    Full text

    A Facebook page that purports to be run by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, shared a picture with its over half a million followers on November 30. The post (archived here) shows President Muhammadu Buhari ㅡ but a chubbier version of the man.

    “Buhari appears to be dead and replaced by a body double because he is wracked by the ravages of dementia ~ Farooq Kperogi • November 28, 2020,” he started by quoting a newspaper columnist and Associate Professor of Journalism at Kennesaw State University.

    He then made an oft-repeated claim by members of IPOB: “All of you will keep dancing around the glaring truth that original Buhari rigged into Aso Rock in 2015 is dead and buried in a shallow grave in Saudi Arabia until you are all dead at the hands of Fulani terrorists he created and supported.”

    “Buhari is long dead. Imagine the 2020 version of your Buhari they unveiled for you gullible Nigerians last week,” he added in a possible reference to the attached picture. “Is this the Buhari of 2015 to you? No wonder Europeans colonised us with such ease.”

    The post had gathered over 1,300 comments and was shared over 3,300 times as of 10 a.m. on December 8.

    The comments showed that not only did the page’s followers believe that Buhari was dead, they also considered the picture to be authentic.

     “The Buhari of 2015 was the best customer to hospitals. All of a sudden, this current Buhari is now as fresh and healthy as a newly born. Doesn’t really add up,” wrote Eze Miracle Arinzechukwu.

    Another follower, Tochukwu Ekpa, replied: “The gullible zoologians have long lost their sense of reasoning. Even if the real Buhari who’s in a shallow grave in Sadia Arabia is still alive today, it’s not normal for an old man to get fatter and look more young than 20 years ago. They have failed!”

    “Is this person also Buhari, because I don’t understand this country anymore. How many Buhari do we have?” asked Queen Isaac Emejuru. “Is like this one is Buubuu not Buhari [sic].”

    The picture appeared on Twitter in the same period.

    Also on November 30, Emeka Gift had tweeted it with the caption: “#BuhariMustGo and #SackTheServiceChiefs is trending because of #ZabarmariMassacre.” The post had over 500 retweets as of December 8. Many of the comments again showed that the picture was considered genuine by many people.

    Screenshot taken from Twitter on December 8, 2020

    Two days earlier, the picture was uploaded by Oluchi Christy alongside three other photos of Buhari. “The Buhari they are showing us on television these days is just getting fat & fatter everyday even at old age, contrary to the real Buhari in the picture 3 & 4 we have always known as slim lakpacious man from birth; till 2017 when different pictures of him began to surface on TV,” she wrote.

    Verification

    Using the reverse image search tool, TinEye, HumAngle traced the original publication of the picture of Buhari to May 17, 2015, less than two weeks to the presidential swearing-in ceremony.

    One of the first websites to share the picture, alongside the official portrait of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was Abu Sidiqu

    Channels TV reported on the same day that the photographs were taken by Bayo Omoboriowo, “the StateCraft Inc. photographer responsible for many of the images from the recently concluded election season that culminated in Buhari’s victory.”

     Omoboriowo was, soon after, appointed as Personal Photographer to the President.

    The original picture featured Buhari with significantly more modest body size.

                                Original portrait of Buhari versus the manipulated picture

    There are readily available applications that make it possible to make people add weight in pictures, just as there are tools to make people look more skinny. One of the former apps is Fatify, which is available both for Android and iPhone users. 

    “Fatify is a fun free app that lets your face swap for a fat, jiggly, animated one. It’s the best free photo booth app for Android and it makes a fat version of you with just a tap of your phone’s camera,” states the app description on Google Play Store.

    Similar results can be achieved by using the liquify tool available on Adobe Photoshop, an image editing software. There is also the fat maker tool on PhotoFunia, a web-based editing app, which relies on automatic face detection.

    A screenshot from Fatify

    Meanwhile, checks showed that the quote attributed to Kperogi truly belonged to the US-based associate journalism professor. It was, however, used in a misleading context.

    The quote, “Buhari appears to be dead and replaced by a body double because he is wracked by the ravages of dementia,” is from an opinion piece published on November 28. But rather than support the claim favouring Buhari’s death, Kperogi described it as a “preposterous conspiracy theory” which was too silly and infantile to deserve the attention of any serious person. He also said it was implausible.

    “In any case, I’d addressed this in a December 8, 2018 column titled, ‘Buhari: Not a Clone but a Clown’, where I described it as an ‘insanely absurd IPOB whispering campaign’ and as ‘so ludicrous, so off-the-wall, and so patently illogical that even acknowledging it would be an exercise in the legitimisation of stupidity’,” he wrote.

    “The truth is that even if they wanted to, Buhari’s inner circle is too incompetent to pull off installing a body double in Aso Rock to replace a supposedly dead Buhari.”

    Conclusion

    The picture is the edited version of Buhari’s official portrait released in May 2015. The quote from Farooq Kperogi was also used in a misleading way.

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

  • EXPLAINER: What to know about Nigeria’s recession and how it affects you

    The Nigerian economy has slipped into a second recession in five years, culminating months of battering by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The National Bureau of Statistics National Bureau of Statistics announced Saturday the nation’s GDP declined 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, better than its 6.10 per cent contraction in the second quarter.

    It is the nation’s second recession since 2016, and the worst in almost four decades.

    But what really is recession and how does it affect you?

    What is a recession?

    Recession occurs when a country’s economy declines for six months at a stretch, or two consecutive quarters. If recession lasts long enough, it turns into depression.

    Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed
    Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed (PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter Handle)

    Normally, the economy of a country grows, measured as the gross domestic product, GDP. It is the aggregate value of all goods and services in the country within a specific time – usually a year. Nigeria’s GDP in the third quarter of 2020 stood at N39 trillion, the largest in Africa.

    When an economy grows, citizens do well and get richer, even if marginally, as they have jobs, good salaries, and improved quality of life. Companies and investors also make profits.

    The government benefits by collecting more taxes and having more money to spend on public services, benefits and workers’ wages.

    When things don’t go as they should and the economy fails to grow for two successive quarters, recession sets in. It is a serious problem for any country and until now the last time this happened in Nigeria was in 2015/2016.

    That may be caused by debt crisis, severe shortage of money, or shock like the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s recession is not a unique Nigerian problem. The COVID-19 crisis has guaranteed all countries have suffered economically.

    How could a recession affect you?

    Slowed economic growth or a decline affects a country and citizens badly. It translates to shortage of money, lack and loss of jobs, and could see companies cutting salaries.

    Revenue shortage can stall public services and projects as budget financing by the government becomes a problem. This could affect any sector from health to education to security.

    What can the government do?

    Countries generally approach economic problems like recession using monetary and fiscal measures.

    The central bank uses monetary policies to control the quantity and supply of money in the economy with implications for growth, inflation, consumption and liquidity.

    The CBN can modify the interest rate, buy or sell government bonds, regulate foreign exchange rates, and change the amount of money banks should maintain as reserves.

    If economic growth is slow or very poor (during recession), the CBN can expand economic activities by lowering interest rates and promoting spending.

    Lower interest rates mean businesses and individuals can take loans on convenient terms to expand productive activities, hire and pay more, and spend more on consumer goods.

    During times of boom, the bank can alternatively deploy contractionary monetary measures to tame inflation that may arise from increased spending.

    The first scenario describes Nigeria’s situation now, which explains why the CBN has cut policy rate twice this year already.

    For fiscal policy, coordinated by the finance ministry, the government can apply spending and tax policies to influence economic conditions. It can also be expansionary or contractionary.

    If the economy in recession, the government may lower taxes to increase aggregate demand and fuel growth.

    The logic is that when people pay less taxes, they have more money to spend and invest. That spending leads firms to hire and pay more, and boosts economic activities.

    Rather than lowering taxes to achieve that goal, the government may seek economic expansion through increased spending, through the budget.

    To do this, the government may borrow or fall back on savings. That’s where reserves like excess crude account and the sovereign wealth fund should help. Those accounts don’t seem to be doing well though.

    The danger is that this approach can cause inflation and may be difficult to reverse as citizens prefer low taxes.

    The opposite — contractionary — is for the government to reduce public spending and cut public-sector pay or jobs to tame inflation.

    What Nigeria needs now is the former — more spending and less taxes with an eye on inflation. But the government has chosen to impose an array of taxes and charges on citizens, from higher VAT to fuel and electricity prices hike at a time of economic difficulties.

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

  • 2021 Nigerian Budget: The nexus between recurrent expenditure and economic growth in Nigeria

    On Thursday, October 8th, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget estimate to a joint session of the Nigerian National Assembly. The budget expenditure was estimated at N13.08 trillion, the highest Nigerian budget so far (especially when compared to the previous 2020 budget of N10.59 trillion). Hours later after the presentation, the House of Representatives approved the total expenditure of the  N13.08 trillion 2021 budget, which covers the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). The 2021 budget is titled by the President as ‘Economic Recovery and Resilience’   aimed at promoting economic diversification and improving social inclusion. 

    Since independence, various government expenditure reforms have been implemented to raise and sustain the economic growth rate of the country. The public sector contributes to GDP growth rate through the provision of government services, such as education, health and administration, and productive activities in areas of agriculture, manufacturing, transport and communication, and trade. The government plays a leading role in determining the pattern of financing its operations through public sector reforms, which in turn determine how much of the country should borrow and how those resources should be allocated in order to enhance economic growth. The main government expenditure strategy has been restructuring and rationalizing overall expenditure. However,  amidst all this, the recurrent expenditure keeps rising in almost every Nigerian annual budget. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian recurrent expenditure stood at N4.85billion in 1981, increased to ₦36.22 billion in 1990, then ₦127.63 billion in 1995. It was ₦178.10 billion in 1998. Then on return to democracy in 1999, there was an astronomical rise to ₦449.66 billion. In 2003, it stood at ₦984.3 billion to ₦1110.64 billion in 2004, and then almost doubled in 2008 at ₦2117.36 billion. In 2012, it was ₦4004.46 billion and rose to  ₦4892.36 billion in 2015, rising further to  ₦5762.7  billion in 2016 and to  ₦7138.7 billion in 2017.  

    Nonetheless, besides the continuous rise in recurrent expenditure over the years, there is an alarming projected inflation rate of 11.95%, and the GDP growth rate of 3.00% that was considered in the budget presented. Thus, Dubawa looks at the nexus between the recurrent expenditure in the budget and the growth of the Nigerian economy. 

    The implication of Recurrent expenditure in the Nigerian budget 

    Recurrent expenditure is a recurring spending on items that are consumed for a limited period of time. In the case of the government, recurrent expenditure includes wages, salaries, and expenditure on consumables – stationery, drugs for health service, among others. Increasing recurrent expenditure remains a challenge to many governments because the government is a major consumer of goods and services in the economy. 

    Some economic analysts have made recommendations that the capital expenditure in a budget should supersede the recurrent expenditure in a budget, if there is to be economic growth. The recurrent expenditures are recurring in nature, whose benefits last for only a limited period which includes, salaries and pensions, the cost of governance (which has been a major source of controversy), etc. 

    The 2021 budget presented by President Buhari includes N5.65  trillion recurrent expenditure, about 43% of the entire budget, plus personnel cost of N3.76 trillion, and debt service of N3.12 trillion. The trend in the budget appears to continue  rising; from 2011 to 2020 the cumulative Federal Government personnel costs–pensions, and gratuities rose to about N20 trillion, thus pushing the recurrent expenditure for the 2020  budget to N4.84 trillion (around 45% of the total budget). 

    In 2019, the recurrent expenditure also gulped 45.75% of the budget at N4.040 trillion. Though there seems to be a little drop in the percentage (43%) of the 2021 recurrent expenditure,  the amount of money is still higher at N5.65 trillion as compared to 2020, 2019, and the previous budgets. 

    The recurrent expenditure continues to form a colossal part of the Nigerian budget, as it currently outstrips the capital expenditures with almost double its size.  Nonetheless,  some findings explained that this reality may not be the best for the Nigerian economy.

    Impact of Recurrent expenditure on the economy 

    According to a study by the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research on the rising government expenditure in Nigeria,the only way to bring about a meaningful influence on the economy is to monitor and evaluate funds that are specially intended for capital expenditure and capital projects.” The study further implied that a budget with a higher capital expenditure than recurrent expenditure will always yield a better economy. This assertion was backed by another research carried out by a group of economic analysts on  “the empirical retrospect of the impacts of government expenditures on economic growth: new evidence from the Nigerian economy” published in the Journal of Economic Structures, the research revealed that “recurrent expenditures of government were found to be significantly impacting on economic growth in a negative way.”

    Though another study also suggested the negativity of recurrent expenditure to the Nigerian economy, it also concludes that “we cannot simply measure effectiveness by “Capital” and “Recurrent,” the real measure is “impact” viz-a-viz costs. The Federal, State, and personal budget must have an impact as the key driver.”

    According to Prof. Akpan Ekpo,  Professor of Economics at the Akwa Ibom State University, “it would be important for the government to increase its capital and recurrent expenditures, because of the need to stimulate consumers’ aggregate demand during the recession by enabling them to have money to spend. But there should be a more proportionate increase in capital expenditure than the recurrent expenditure. This will take care of the demand side. So, it is time for stimulus and not a time for austerity. Government has to pump money into the economy to reflate it.”

    Similarly, Dr. Jakes Bomede of Department of Economics, Bingham University, further explained that “The trends in government borrowing and recurrent expenditure have tremendously increased in the recent years; if Government must borrow, it should borrow to invest into public projects that are growth-promoting in any part of the country without political coercion. Possibly there is an enormous lack of accountability of public expenditures by government officials especially in handling public borrowed funds and this could explain why recurrent expenditure components have always been seen to retard growth. Those who hold powerful positions should account for every kobo that is invested in any project. The More we borrow the more we pay higher depts servicing which amounts to large sums of money. This gives rise to recurrent expenditure which is not good for any economy because it attracts inflation, currency devaluation, and eventually poor foreign exchange rates. It perhaps explains why inflation in Nigeria has gone spiral within the years.”

    These findings appear to send a warning over the rising trend of recurrent expenditure in Nigeria. 

    Conclusion 

    The President has already warned Nigerians about the likelihood of another recession with ‘adverse consequences’ and the 2021 budget also seems to carry such indications. According to the President, the deficit in the 2021 budget will be financed primarily by new borrowings totaling N4.28 trillion,  the highest loan so far in a Nigerian budget. The projected inflation rate at 11.95% and the GDP of 3.00%   in the 2021 budget is not a good sign and may only make the recurrent expenditure worthless because salaries and the general flow of money though may increase, will only pay for fewer goods and services.  In essence, when a high inflation rate meets with high recurrent expenditure the result is usually bad for any economy.

  • No, These Are Not Katsina Women Calling Buhari to Resign

    Claim: A video shared widely on WhatsApp and uploaded to Twitter shows women protesting and calling in Hausa language on Buhari to release “Mallam.” 

    “Kai Buhari, Fir’aunan zamani sako mana Mallam,” is a chant in Hausa which literally means “You, Buhari, a modern pharaoh, release Mallam for us.” 

    The video was edited and recirculated on social media, majorly Twitter and WhatsApp, with the caption “Katsina Women Protesting for Buhari Resignation”. 

    Verification conducted on the video has revealed that the video shows women members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) calling President Muhammadu Buhari to release Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.  The video was recorded in Abuja and does not show Katsina women calling President Buhari to resign. 

    Full Text 

    The one minute and thirty seconds video was shared widely on WhatsApp and uploaded to Twitter. 

    A Twitter user with the name Harri (@harri25_) uploaded the video on Twitter, claiming “Kastina Women protesting for Buhari Resignation…#EndSARS”. 

    The video got more than 55,000 views and about 10,000 reactions in less than 24 hours. 

    A user with the name Political_Somebody (@princessphilem1) replied to the tweet, “People are obviously tired of his bad government, things are going worse by the day.”

    Another user with the name Auchman (@Auchman1) added, “And instead of the VP after seeing all these to tell Mr President the truth and resign he is there telling us nonsense”

    Verification 

    A journalist, Mahdi Garba, who reports on the activities of IMN, said the video was recorded in Abuja when Shi’a Women were protesting for the release of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who was detained by the Federal Government of Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari. 

    We could not identify when the video was first uploaded to the Internet, but the content of the video does not show women from Katsina or any particular state in northern Nigeria. 

    Some women, speaking in Hausa, in the video did not ask Buhari to resign but requested that he release El-Zakzaky. 

    “Kai Buhari, Fir’aunan zamani sako mana Mallam,” they said.

    This translates to, “You Buhari, a modern pharaoh (tyrant), release Mallam for us.” 

    Conclusion 

    The video being circulated on social media did not show Katsina women protesting for President Buhari’s resignation. 

    The video was taken in Abuja and shows women members of the IMN calling President Muhammadu Buhari to release their leader who is still under detention for about four years.

    This fact-check is produced per HumAngle partnership with the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in Nigeria.

  • #EndSARS: The Trend And Threat Of Fake Social Media Accounts

    By Kunle Adebayo

    There are 33 million active monthly users of Facebook in Nigeria. There are also many millions of people exchanging information on Twitter, 280 characters at a time. But just like the country’s population of phone subscribers cannot be determined using only the number of SIM cards in circulation, it is also hard to say for sure because not all these accounts on social media are authentic.

    There are a number of reasons for this. One, it is easier for the information you share to be spread widely and presumed to be true if it is believed to come from a public figure. Second, people sometimes assume false identities in order to mimic certain personalities for the sake of humour or satire. Third, in large numbers, fake accounts can be used to spread all forms of propaganda. And then, there are those who just want to make some money off any activity within their competence.

    The sale of social media accounts, from Twitter to Facebook and Instagram, appears to be a thriving industry. For Facebook, personal accounts that have a long history are preferred, largely because new accounts raise suspicion when used by scammers. The prices of Twitter accounts and Facebook pages often range between one naira  and two naira per follower.

    The many #EndSARS impersonations

    This practice provides an incentive for people to create multiple accounts on social media and assume false identities in order to gain followers. The trend was especially noticeable on Twitter during the recent campaign for reforms in the Nigeria Police. In the first two weeks, the EndSARS hashtag had 173 billion impressions and nearly 100 million mentions. 

    While many of the fake accounts helped amplify the #EndSARS message, contributing to the advocacy for police reforms and an end to brutalityㅡtheir motives regardless, they have also contributed to the spread of misinformation.

    In one instance, this account shared fake news about the supposed death of President Muhammadu Buhari, a statement falsely attributed to First Lady Aisha Buhari, an unverifiable quote linked to former All Progressives Congress party Chairman, Adams Oshiomole, and another misleading picture.

    Another fake account on October 21 shared a video of a military officer firing into the night, thus suggesting that was how “shootings were being coordinated” against peaceful protesters. A fact-check by AFP, however, showed that the clip predated the EndSARS campaign.

    The same video was shared by another fake account impersonating DJ Switch, Obianuju Udeh, and has been watched over 34,000 times.

    On October 23, the verified handle of the All Progressives Congress branch in the United Kingdom shared two pictures supporting the claim that DJ Switch gave contradictory death tolls from the shooting at Lekki tollgate. “DJ Switch reduced ‘confirmed dead’ from 78 to 15 within 2 days and maybe 0 by next week. This is reckless and silly,” the account stated.

    The only problem was while one of the figures was given by Udeh through her official Instagram account, the second one originated from a fake Twitter account registered in her name. The tweet was deleted after this was pointed out by AFP fact-checker Tijani Mayowa.

    When fake accounts make attempts to be humorous, often such attempts go too far.  A young Nigerian, Okechukwu Obi-Enadhuze, was killed on October 21 after thugs attacked a police station in Oshodi, Lagos. Following the incident, his girlfriend took to Twitter to express her anguish. The same day, an account (now deleted) (re)named “Oke” and with the same picture on the late Oke’s account, replied the girlfriend’s tweet with the words: “My love, trust I’m in a better place. I’ll be watching you from the skies.” The account user then added trending hashtags “#unarmed #EndSARS”.

    Impersonation against Facebook, Twitter rules

    According to the former’s policies, “Your account should represent you, and only you should have access to your account. If someone gains access to your account, or creates an account to pretend to be you or someone else, we want to help. We also encourage you to let us know about accounts that represent fake or fictional people, pets, celebrities or organizations.”

    Twitter also states that impersonation is a violation of its rules. “Accounts that pose as another person, brand, or organization in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under Twitter’s impersonation policy,” it warns.

    However, in spite of their rigid positions, fake accounts continue to proliferate on the platforms in…Read more.


    FACT CHECKS OF THE WEEK 

    The Nigerian Army denies any role in the Lekki toll gate shootings on Tuesday, October 20, tagging all the reports as fake news and video/photo images as ‘photoshop.’ However, Dubawa researched this claim and detailed its findings in this check.

    On 23rd October 2020, a Twitter user @maryamamasa posted a twenty-seven-seconds video clip of a rowdy session, claiming that it was an altercation between the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and delegates of the federal government during…

    THREE pictures- claiming evidence of Muhammadu Buhari’s death and that the Queen of Britain, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, showed a condolence letter to the Nigerian government over the demise of the president…


    QandA

    • Is there a breakdown of the special salary structure for teachers?

    According to credible media reports, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has approved a special salary structure for teachers. Mr Buhari also increased the year of service of teachers by 5 years which implies that a teacher in Nigeria can now work for 40 years instead of  35 years.

    However, while a special salary structure has been approved, details of this new structure, or a breakdown of this salary structure, has not been released. Dubawa reached out to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, He said, “There is quite a lot of work to be done, not just the figures, the naira and kobo of salary. What confirmation do you expect from me when I said there is a committee that has not even been inaugurated yet to work on that,” (Read full fact check here.)

    • Has Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the new WTO DG?

    There was a breaking news by an online news website, THE NEW DIPLOMAT, in the early hours of Tuesday, October 27, 2020, that Nigeria’s former Finance Minister and a former Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has emerged as the  first  female Director-General of the World Trade Organization(WTO).” But, this is not accurate.

    While the race for the coveted job of DG WTO has been fierce with Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s serving Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, and the WTO General Council has disclosed that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership, the council is yet to officially and publicly declare Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the next DG of WTO.


    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 

    Dubawa has always advised that readers should be skeptical about information gotten online especially when the information is from an unverifiable blog. NewsRain, in its report, has presented a statement supposedly from the United State Trade Representative on why it opposed the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as the World Trade Organization’s Director-General. However, the report is void of how the statement was acquired by the news platform. Besides this, the report also quoted an unidentified source, which is a common practice in misinformation. Hence, before sharing this information further, be sure to verify. 

    Questions to ask yourself: Did the United States publish a statement? Where and when was it published? Which credible platform has published the report apart from NewsRain? 


    Other Fact-checks/Articles 

  • Misleading WhatsApp message gives breakdown of approved new teacher’s salary structure

    Claim: A viral WhatsApp message gave a breakdown of the new teacher’s salary structure approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, comparing it with that of the police.

    Misleading. While it is true that a new salary structure was approved by the president, details of this structure are still unknown as the process is still underway.

    Full Text 

    As the world celebrated Teacher’s Day on October 5, 2020, Nigeria marked this year’s Teacher’s Day with the approval of a new salary structure and service/retirement year for teachers. 

    Alongside other beneficial announcements, President Buhari approved a special salary scale for teachers. This move, the government believes, would motivate Nigerian teachers to do better.

    Following the announcement, a viral WhatsApp message claims that President Buhari approved this new salary structure to equal that of the police.

    “New Teacher’s Salary Structure

    Gl 07= Assistant Education Officer (AEO) – N198,000

    Gl 08= Education Officer (EO) – N254,000

    Gl 09= Senior Education Officer (SEO) II – N271,000

    Gl 10= Senior Education Officer (SEO) I – N296,000

    Gl 12= Principal Education Officer (PEO) – N321,000

    Gl 13= Assistant Chief Education Officer (PEO) – N342,000

    Gl 14= Chief Education Officer (CEO) – N419,000

    Gl 15= Assistant Director Education (ADE) – N483,000

    Gl 16= Deputy Director Education (DDE) – N531,000

    Gl 17= Director Education (DE) – N1.5million.”

    Excerpt of viral WhatsApp message on the new salary structure.

    Verification

    A keyword search produced news reports on the approval of a new salary scale for teachers.

    A report by Daily Trust published on October 6, 2020, noted that the president had approved a new salary scale for teachers while increasing their retirement age to 65 with immediate effect. According to the report, this was made known by the minister of education who represented the president at the 2020 World Teachers Day celebration.

    Screenshot of Daily Trust report.

    Similarly, a report by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) pidgin on October 5, 2020, also noted that as part of World Teacher’s Day, the president has given approval for special salary for teachers and increased the number of their year of service.

    Screenshot of BBC Pidgin’s report.

    Another report by the Guardian published on October 7,2020, described this new salary structure as  “Teacher’s Special Salary (TSS).” It also noted that this new special salary is unclear and the Federal Government may face tough funding options when it is ready to implement the new policy.

    Screenshot of The Guardian’s report.

    Recently on Monday, October 26, 2020, the Punch newspaper published an editorial warning of an impending crisis which the new salary scale might foment. The editorial described this new salary scale as an ill-advised move that should be nipped in the bud.

    This editorial brought to light the fact that education is on the Concurrent Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution, which requires multi-stakeholder buy-in and wide consultation among the three tiers of government but noted this was ignored by the Federal Government. 

    Dubawa also contacted the spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, who inferred that there is no breakdown of the new structure as the process is still underway while awaiting committees to work on details of the policy.

    “There is quite a lot of work to be done, not just the figures, the naira and kobo of salary. What confirmation do you expect from me when I said there is a committee that has not even been inaugurated yet so work on that,” he said.

    Conclusion

    While it is true that the president approved a new salary structure for teachers, details of this new structure, or a breakdown of this salary structure, has not been released. This makes the viral WhatsApp message misleading.

  • Picture claiming Queen Elizabeth wrote condolence letter to Nigeria over Buhari’s death resurfaces, but FALSE

    CLAIM: The Queen of the United Kingdom, Her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth II wrote a condolence letter to the Nigerian government over the death of President Muhamadu Buhari.

    The claim that the Queen wrote a condolence letter is FALSE

    FULL TEXT

    THREE pictures- claiming evidence of Muhammadu Buhari’s death and that the Queen of Britain, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, wrote a condolence letter to the Nigerian government over the demise of the president have recently been making rounds on social media and WhatsApp.

    An attached post to the pictures claimed that the royal majesty wrote the letter on February 7th, 2017, furthering that former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, also paid a condolence visit to the Nigerian Ambassador to the UK to register her grief towards the death of the president. 

    The text inscribed in one of the pictures reads thus: “The Queen of Britain, Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has sent a message of condolence to the family of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and the people of Nigeria.” 

    There are no official reports on the speculated death of the President and the message of condolence from the two sources close to the presidency and to Nigeria have said  President Buhari has passed on and that the photos circulating online are those from his previous visit.

    Another London source says Prime Minister Theresa May has visited the Nigerian Ambassador to the UK.

    In a message of condolence, the Queen has said the following about Buhari:

     “The death of President Buhari came to us as a shock. He has been one of the active pillars in Africa. May the good people of Nigeria and Africa know that our hearts are with them in these hard times.” 

    VERIFICATION

    In mid-2016, President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria in a highly controversial trip to the United kingdom to treat a ‘persistent’ ear infection not less than a year after he won the 2015 presidential election. The trip which was to take 10 days was to enable the President to meet with an “Ear, Nose and Throat” specialist after he was examined by his personal physician and an ENT specialist in Abuja.

    The medical leave was, however, extended following concerns his health might get worse. An official statement advanced the leave was extended to enable the president to wait for the results of a series of tests that were carried out on him.

    Mr. Buhari ended up using seven weeks which fuelled anxiety among Nigerians who were spreading speculations about his health. Upon his return to the country, the president told newsmen he had never felt “so sick” as he felt during his stay in London for treatment.

    So, who is behind the picture?

    The ICIR ran a  check on one of the pictures which the poster claimed was the Queen’s condolence message, using Google reverse image tool to ascertain the time the image first appeared online. 

    The search which showed seven results in 0.42 seconds revealed that the earliest use of the image found by The ICIR was on November 18, 2018, in a post titled “Buhari’s cousin Mallam Daura attacks Nnamdi Kanu for insisting Jubril is Buhari” on one 9jaflaver.com

    The blog claimed to have culled the excerpt of the interview from The Sun Newspaper, but The ICIR could not find the interview on the newspaper’s website. 

    The picture resurfaced on popular microblogging site, Twitter, on 26 November 2019,  in a tweet by one Akanimo Umah @AKANIMOUmoh5. The image which was then reposted by another user on the microblogging site @navimumbaiipob on October 2, 2020, at exactly 12:08 post meridiem, has gathered 414 retweets and 242 likes as of October 20, 2020.

    The post attached images purported to be of  President Buhari’s death certificate and accused Her Royal Majesty of covering up the claim and conspiracy against the actualisation of the Republic of Biafra, a secessionist state that existed from May 1967 to January 1970 during Nigeria civil war.

    The ‘clone’ conspiracy theory

    At the height of the anxiety about the president’s health in 2017, there were speculations of the president’s rumoured death flying across the country. Popular among the speculations was the one pushed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). 

    By comparing Buhari’s pre- and post-medical leave physique, Nnamdi Kanu advanced that Buhari had died and had been replaced by a lookalike who he called “Jubril” from Sudan. 

    Since making the claim, several social media users have been reposting that president Buhari is an impostor with varying pictures to question his identity.

    Although Nnamdi Kanu did not provide evidence to back the claim, he later denied making such an accusation.

    However, the president while responding to the claim in a town hall in Poland where he attended a United Nations climate conference,  regarded those peddling the false information as “ignorant and irreligious” people.

    Discussions about the conspiracy rested from online arguments prior to the 2019 elections. But due to the protracted silence of the President over the Lagos Lekki shooting of the armless #EndSARS protesters, Nigerian netizens brought back the argument while many people fell for it. 

    Sorting The Fictional letter

    The ICIR again, conducted a search for media evidence of the Queen’s correspondence with Nigeria between  2017 to 2020.

    The earliest correspondence found by The ICIR was the letter written by the Queen to felicitate with Nigeria on the occasion of her sixtieth independence anniversary.

    The letter which was conveyed to the presidency by the British High Commission in the country called for a stronger bond between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

    “It gives me great pleasure to offer my warmest congratulations on the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, together with my best wishes for your country’s continued happiness and prosperity,” the message read.

    “The United Kingdom and Nigeria benefit from strong and enduring ties as Commonwealth partners through shared history and most importantly, our people. These are bonds that I hope and believe will flourish long into the future.” she wrote

    Also, the featured image attached to the claim was used when Her Majesty signed the European Withdrawal Act which gave royal assent to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on June 27, 2018. Our investigation also showed that the picture which was copyrighted to Wikimedia (Chatham House) has been used multiple times to illustrate events involving the monarch.

    The ICIR also subjected the featured image to a metadata tool and it revealed that the picture was taken on 18th November 2014 at exactly 6:17 pm with NIKON D800 (camera) and by Ian Enness, a freelance photographer. 

          Screenshot President Muhammadu Buhari while addressing the nation on the #EndSARS protest on Oct 22, 2020

    CONCLUSION

    Based on the above findings, the claim that Queen Elizabeth II wrote a condolence letter is baseless and FALSE, just as the returning of the claim that failure of Buhari to address the #EndSARS protests on time does not constitute a sufficient condition to mislead citizens on the same issue that had been resolved since 2018. 

    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.

  • #WhereisBuhari: Again, social media claim Nigeria’s president is dead, with ‘evidence’

    The #EndSARS protests in Nigeria will, beyond any skepticism, remain a  significant episode in the chronology of events in Nigeria.  However, what will even be more remembered is the eclectic discourses it has emitted and tons of controversies it has generated. One such controversy pertains to the death certificate in circulation on social media that is alleged to be President Buhari’s. 

    Threads of this claim have been largely shared amongst Twitter users; chiefly amongst them is MR. KEMS @alao-abiodunmr_kems4 who tweeted a death certificate containing President Buhari’s details. The certificate implied that President Buhari died in Abuja, due to a cardiac arrest on September 18, 2017, and was issued by the National Population Commission. The tweet piled up over 515 retweets, 30 quote comments, and over 548 reactions.

    What seemed to have led to the claims was the long silence of the president over the recent Lekki toll gate shootings during the #EndSARS protest of some of the country’s youths. When the President would not  deliver a speech  24 hours after the Lekki  Gate shootings, social media became trendy with the tag #WhereisBuhari with some users asking for the whereabouts of the President and  demanding that he address  the nation via a live T.V.

    Ayemojubar @ayemojubar, tweeted “Is it a too much question to ask? #WhereIsBuhari #WhereIsBuhari #WhereIsBuhari #WhereIsBuhari #WhereIsBuhari Come out and talk to us LIVE and answer 2 or 3 questions from the media. Period!” Another user, Boss lady @BossS2o also tweeted that “He didn’t update its IG handle since May 2017 he left Nigeria and the next update was June 2018. #WhereIsBuhari #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #Itsnotfinished” 

    At this point I don’t know what to believe anymore loudly crying face I’m sure Buhari is not happy about what is going on wherever he is. Huncle Jib. has gone back to wherever he came from, living us in this mess he created and turned us all into a #MONSTER  the question is #WhereIsBuhari Aisha” Bertha @Bertha56897740 tweeted.  Odo Oqua @kahditzOqua further implied that “For those of you asking #WhereIsBuhari. HE IS DEAD!!! I’ve read about it and seen so many convincing evidence”. The #WhereisBuhari is still trending in the Nigerian Twitter space, with over 7, 000 comments and tweets tagged to it;  asking the question where is Buhari?

    President Buhari’s Death claims 

    In 2017, alleged claims about President Buhari’s death became rife. The President who had been ill around that time was taken to a London hospital for treatment where he stayed for almost 6 months, during which rumors began to spread that the  President had died. At the time, Eric Joyce, a Scottish National who claimed to have campaigned for President Buhari, Tweeted a condolence message to the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari, and further remarked that a new president would be confirmed in a day or two to replace the departed Mr. Buhari. “The Acting President, I guess. He’ll be confirmed in a day or two.” Tweeted Mr. Eric. 

    When president Muhammadu later showed up in Nigeria,  diverse theories around his death were already in circulation. Some claimed he was cloned and  others contended that he was replaced with an imposter. The leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, alleged that the real Buhari was dead and that the person leading the country was ‘Jubril’ of Sudan whom Mr. Kanu claimed to be a lookalike of President Buhari. In one instance, Mr. Kanu shared two images of Mr. Buhari, one reversed, to allege that the Buhari Nigerians elected in 2015, who is right-handed, had been replaced by Jubril, who was left-handed.

    Mr. Buhari, who was in  Poland, attending a UN Climate Change Conference at the time, dispelled the claims saying: “…somebody just thought I am cloned, ….it is real me I assure you”. His personal assistant further shared a video of the President’s response: 

    However, the recent upsurge of the #EndSARS protest gave rise to diverse criticism against the President over his absence on matters that many felt he could have acted faster: ANY PRESIDENT OF A NATION WHO CANNOT COME OUT LIVE TO ADDRESS HIS PEOPLE, THAT PRESIDENT, IS DEAD”  Omo kiikan @Omokiikan tweeted. However, after he broke the silence with a 12-minute speech, critics alleged that the speech lacked empathy and did not address salient issues about the #EndSARS protests, such as the alleged  Lekki toll gate shootings.

    As a result,   the social media took off with a new trend, #Buhariisdead, claiming that Buhari is dead and the real Buhari would have done better. A Twitter user,   Mazi Chiemerie Esiowu @ChiemerieEsiowu complained that: “His Address Should Be Titled ‘No Empathy Speech”. IT IS FINISHED Indeed! Nigerians Have Finally Realized They’ve No President. #EndSARS”

    To back up such claims, social media users began circulating an Instagram post shared recently by Zarah Buhari, (now Mrs. Indimi). The post sparked a new round of controversy, as most users on social media claimed Mrs. Zarah was referring to her father, the purported late Buhari. Though Dubawa had confirmed that Mrs. Zarah actually made the post on her verified Instagram page, she is yet to respond to a direct message on Instagram in response to the claims or give an explanation of the post in question.

    The Alleged Buhari’s death certificate

    The death certificate, just like the President’s daughter’s Instagram post, is circulated by social media users to serve as proof of Mr. Buhari’s purported demise in 2017. However, DUBAWA launched an investigation to track the veracity of the claim.

    Dubawa carried out a preliminary query to trace the source of the certificate and its history on the internet. Using InVid  (image/video verifying tool) reverse image searches,  the picture of the death certificate was traced to a defunct Facebook page called ‘Ohafia Political Forum’ where it was first shared in October 2018, by a certain Bishop Orieke.  The picture of the certificate was further shared multiple times; it attracted massive attention and appeared on different web platforms.  After an error level analysis was carried on the image, it turned out that the alleged death certificate was doctored. This procedure was neatly conducted and presented in the photocopied edition to conceal the procedure. Below are the results of the analysis: 

    Results from forensically

    Notice how it was doctored

    The alleged copy

    Conclusion

    The above copies revealed how the certificate was doctored. Dubawa has made efforts to contact The National Populations Commission but there has been no response yet.   Besides that, in 2018, Bishop Orieke who first shared the image was brought before the office of the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice for peddling false information. The certificate of death of President Buhari currently in circulation was, like the one that surfaced in 2018, doctored and edited.   It has also been in existence since 2018. The certificate was merely resurfaced to suit the lingering narrative of his absence during a national crisis that the president should have spoken to the nation.  

  • #EndSARS: Video used to portray Obasanjo running away from Nigeria

    Claim: Twitter user, @Skygirl_Angie, published a video with the claim that Obasanjo is running out of the country to escape the rage of the #EndSARS protest.

    Dubawa confirms that the person in the video is indeed Obasanjo, there is, however, no link between the video and the current #EndSARS protest. @Skygirl_Angie, the claim-source, deleted her post after realizing that the video is not new.

    Full Text

    Twitter user, Orente_Africa (@Skygirl_Angie), published a video on 21st October claiming that Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, is running out of the country. 

    This video has garnered over 445 retweets and 307 likes and has also been circulated on WhatsApp.

    Verification

    In the bid to verify this claim, Dubawa took screenshots from the video and reversed them, using the Google Reverse Image tool but no result was found. Hence, we conducted a keyword search where we found a clearer version of the video.

    The video appeared in February 28th 2019 on Biafraud Expose, a YouTube page with 5.5k subscribers with the caption, “Obasanjo in airport trying to run as Buhari wins – Biafra news today.” It was also published here in March 2019.

    Further, Dubawa found that the former President had earlier reacted to news of him running away as published by Guardian on 15th February 2019, suggesting that there has been speculation about him running away before the video surfaced on the 28th.

    In addition to this, the claim-source @Skyegirl_Angie deleted her post after realizing her tweet was wrong and has nothing to do with the #EndSARS movement. 

    CONCLUSION 

    Dubawa confirms that the person in the video is Obasanjo, there is, however, no link between the video and the current #EndSARS protest. @Skygirl_Angie, the claim-source, deleted her post after realizing that the video is not new.

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