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Viral security alert attributed to Lagos government, manipulated

Claim: The Lagos government issued a security alert warning residents to be cautious along the Gbagada expressway as a result of the operations of kidnappers on the route.

Verdict: False! The memo did not originate from the Lagos state government, as claimed. Also, the Police earlier debunked the alert.

Full Text

Insecurity in Nigeria has been a major concern for citizens, government, and other stakeholders in recent years. 

Apart from the economic hardships facing the populace, some Nigerians are also grappling with kidnapping, robbery, and fraud. 

Barely a week into 2024, about 15 people were kidnapped in Abuja, the nation’s capital, further raising the question of what security personnel are doing to protect citizens. 

Incidents of kidnapping have also been recorded in several states, including Delta, Oyo, and Abia, among others, as seen here

The abductors usually request ransom rolling into millions of naira, and failure to pay often leads to the killing of the victim, as seen in the case of Nabeeha and 13-year-old Folashade Ariyo

Many Nigerians have condemned the ugly trend of insecurity and demanded a better security architecture from the Tinubu-led administration. 

Amid conversations around insecurity in the country, reports in some quarters claimed kidnappers have taken over the Gbadaga expressway in Lagos State. 

Those sharing the claim also called for the intervention of the state government and security agencies to address the purported unrest. 

An X user, @mo_la_yo, explained that the purported kidnapping along the Gbagada expressway was worsening and warned commuters to avoid boarding a bus that is not filled up. 

Tagging the Nigerian police handle, another user, @wandyvirus, provided information about the model the kidnappers were adopting to abduct unsuspecting commuters.

To buttress the claim, many social media users shared a memo purportedly issued by the Lagos State government. The memo has gone viral on various platforms, including WhatsApp. 

In the memo, which carries the Lagos State government’s logo, the state attributed the information about the kidnapping incident in the axis to a security alert from the Lagos State Police Command.

DUBAWA observed that the memo was not signed, dated, or stamped. The text has been shared here, here, and here

Image of the alert purportedly issued by the Lagos State government 

Verification

As noted earlier, the memo or alert was not signed by any government official, which is unusual compared to the past ones issued by the state government. It also lacked the stamp expected of such an official statement. 

This was the first red flag observed by DUBAWA.

We thoroughly searched the X handle and Facebook page of the Lagos State government and found no such report. It was also not found on the government’s website

Also, the first line of the memo stated that it was issued on the premise of an alert from the Lagos State Police Command. However, the Lagos State Police issued a statement disassociating itself from the advisory.

Further checks showed that although the command clarified it did not release the advisory, it said the Lagos police commissioner, Adegoke Fayoade, had ordered a review of the security architecture of the entire area by relevant Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and Area Commanders.

The police also asked residents to disregard the fear raised by the memo and go about their normal businesses while remaining security conscious. 

Using forensically, a tool for digital forensics, DUBAWA observed that the picture had been manipulated as the level sweep analysis gave a very dark contrast of the Lagos State logo in the memo while the rest of the texts were boldly written. 

This shows that the image was boldly imposed on the document. 

Screenshot of the level sweep analysis of the image 

DUBAWA also noticed that the exact post was shared by Oworo TV on Jan 21 and reposted on the Eti-Osa LGA Facebook page on Jan 22, suggesting the post on the Eti-Osa LGA page might have been copied from another source. 

Conclusion 

Lagos state government and the police did not issue any memo on kidnapping incidents along the Gbagada axis of the state.

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