CLAIM: Oyetola Refused to Approve Osogbo Stadium For Our Mega Rally, Says Osun PDP.
CONTEXT: On 16th of July 2022, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development spotted a report on the “AMILOADED MEDIA HUB” Facebook platform claiming that “OYETOLA REFUSED TO APPROVE OSOGBO STADIUM FOR OUR MEGA RALLY, SAYS OSUN PDP”
VERIFICATION: Investigation by CDD fact-checkers revealed that the report was been denied by The Commissioner for Information in the Osun State, Funke Egbemode, in a telephone conversation with “Daily Trust”. She stated that the Osogbo City Stadium and the Freedom Park had been granted to other people before the Governorship Aspirant of the PDP Senator Ademola Adeleke applied for permission. Therefore, one venue could not be given to two applicants at the same time.
Furthermore, another denial was confirmed on the “vanguardngr.com” website by the Special Adviser to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere that the party lacked organisation and failed to book the said venues until other groups did. He said, “A youth group booked for the stadium ahead of them, while the minibus union booked the freedom park”.
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm this report to be false. CDD advises the public to disregard this claim.
CLAIM: Adeleke said in a tweet “Our mandate will not be stolen this time, It Is fire for fire”
CONTEXT: On July 8, 2022, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted an image with the caption “the People’s Love will not be taken for granted. Come July 16th our mandate will not be stolen again. “This time it is fire for fire”
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm that mischief makers manipulated the claim to cause confusion and trigger Violence. CDD can confirm this claim is False
CDD is urging members of the public to verify from certified source before sharing any news report especially, from a random WhatsApp status
CLAIM: Tinubu replaced Shettima with Dogara as his running mate.
VERDICT: FALSE AND MISLEADING
CONTEXT: On July 15, 2022, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a post on ” Nairaland” that says; Breaking: Tinubu Replaces Shettima With Dogara The report published the claim with the headline: “Breaking: Tinubu Replaces Shettima With Dogara”
VERIFICATION: Investigation by CDD Fact checkers revealed that the report is false and misleading following the declaration statement of the outcome of the Primary election conducted by the APC in Maiduguri reading that Barr. Kaka-Shehu Lawab is Replacing Senator Kashim Shettima as the APC Borno Central Senatorial District candidate for the 2023 election. Tinubu’s running Mate, Shettima was replaced as APC Borno Central candidate by Barr. Lawan upon his nomination as the Vice Presidential candidate.
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers upon investigation verified the report to be false and misleading. CDD is urging members of the public to verify every piece of information and only share news from credible sources.
CLAIM: Senator Adeleke, PDP Candidate has been sacked by the court from participating in the forthcoming Osun election
CONTEXT: On July 15, 2022, a screenshot message credited to the APC Youth Stakeholders Forum, surfaced on WhatsApp with a claim that Senator Ademola Adeleke, Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Osun State Governorship election, has been sacked by the court.
VERIFICATION: CDD Fact checkers interrogated the validity of the claim. Findings revealed that on May 18, 2022, a Federal High Court in Osogbo affirmed Ademola Adeleke of the PDP as the authentic candidate of the party in the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state.
In his Judgement, the judge, Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel, held that the primary election conducted at the WOCDIF Centre, Osogbo, on March 8, 2022, that produced Dotun Babayemi, was null and void. He stressed that it was only the aspirant(s) that participated physically at the primary conducted by the PDP National Working Committee and not the one conducted by the party’s state executives that have power and locus standing to challenge such suit in court. In addition, the screenshot was altered, the tweet in the screenshot is not from the original Twitter handle of the APC Youth Stakeholders Forum. In another case, the Federal High Court, Abuja order the sack of Delta PDP governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections, the order was issued on July 7, 2022, by Justice Taiwo Taiwo. The order of the has been served on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), disqualifying Sheriff Oborevwori as the PDP governorship candidate in Delta State.
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm that the claim that the PDP Candidate, Ademola Adeleke has been sacked is FALSE. The peddler’s intention is to sway voters in the Saturday, July 16, 2022, governorship election. Election periods are usually characterized by political and electoral disinformation, voters and residents of Osun state, should be careful what they believe and share. Don’t forget, if you must share that piece of information, do ensure you can independently verify it.
CLAIM: The Benue State SDP chairman John Enemari, has decamped with all its members in the 276 wards and 23 local govt areas to Labour Party. Benue State is now #OBIdients
A viral report on blogs, social and mainstream media claims that the State Working Committee of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Benue State has collapsed its structure and joined the Labour Party (LP).
On Wednesday, July 13, 2022, Peter Obi Grassroots Mobilization had tweeted via the handle, @PO_GrassRoots, “BREAKING: The Benue State SDP chairman John Enemari, has decamped with all its members in the 276 wards and 23 local govt areas to Labour Party. Benue State is now #OBIdients.”
There were also rumours that a factional Benue State chairman of the SDP, Enemari, issued a statement directing all party members across the 276 wards and 23 LGAs of Benue State to dissolve into the LP.
Enemeri blamed the crisis rocking the SDP at the national level and indifference of the national secretariat to the plight of members of the party in the state for his decision and urged members of the party at all levels to immediately move to the LP.
He said, “The crisis at the national level has destabilised everything about the SDP in all the states of the federation and it has created crisis and factions and we cannot continue to suffer for them particularly here in Benue SDP just like we suffered for the party in 2018/2019.”
He also maintained that, “No kobo was sent to us to work for the party; and by the party’s constitution, we were supposed to get not less than N75 million from the sale of forms in accordance with Section 72(2) but the people in Abuja sat on it.”
He added, “In a party if you don’t win elections, what do you do? Now they are in court, let them continue. Benue is not a revenue yielding state for them.”
According to him, the LP candidate is a young man that has done very well in his constituency.
Enemeri also said he had consulted with all other parties but that didn’t work, noting that “since we did not have a governorship candidate, we have decided to give our full support to Labour Party in Benue State.”
VERIFICATION: Our Partners during the investigation, ascertained that at the time of filing this report, the tweet had garnered 2,834 retweets and over 11,000 likes.
There also came across a statement by the Vice Chairman of SDP in Benue State, Emmanuel Ibyabya, dismissing the report of collapsing its structures for the Labour Party in the state as Enemeri claimed, describing the report as false and mischievous. The statement also stated that Enemeri was suspended and afterwards expelled from SDP on 8 July, 2022 on the grounds of disloyalty and unfaithfulness to the party. He stressed that the SDP remains united and committed to social justice. The State Working Committee as well as members of the party are fully behind the state chairman.”
Also, the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Shehu Gabam, said, “There is no truth in the merger story. Enemari was expelled from the party. He is no longer a member of SDP as we speak.”
CONCLUSION: From the foregoing, it is clear that Enemeri’s claim of an alliance between the SDP and LP in Benue stands truth on its head. Hence, the claim that SDP structure in Benue had collapsed into LP is contentious and controversial.
CLAIM: This image was taken from the PDP mega rally in Osogbo, Osun State on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
CONTEXT: On Thursday, July 14, 2022, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held its mega rally in Osogbo, the Osun State Capital, ahead of the Osun Governorship elections scheduled for Saturday, July 16, 2022. The rally, which was transmitted live, saw a crowd of party faithful gathered. Fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a trending image which alleged to be taken at the mega rally. The image surfaced in several WhatsApp groups in the state.
VERIFICATION: CDD Fact checkers reviewed the claims to ascertain its authenticity. Using Google Reverse Image Search; findings revealed that the image, first surfaced online on July 10, 2022, and has been posted multiple times on Twitter and Facebook particularly.
Fact checks show that the image was taken from the 2022 Durbar festival in Ilorin, which was held on July 10, 2022. The Durbar festival in Ilorin is an annual event that takes place a day after Eid-Adha (Eid Il Kabir) at the Emir of Ilorin’s palace. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the festival has not been held for a few years, the 2022 event with notable indigenes of the Ilorin Emirate in attendance.
CDD fact-checkers can confirm that the trending Picture of the PDP Rally In Osun State is False.
CDD urges members of the public, especially residents and voters in Osun State to read beyond headlines or captions before sharing any news report. Sharing of old pictures and videos are common during elections. Before you share that story, do ensure you have independently verified it.
CLAIM: Kashim Shettima dines with Boko Haram terrorists
CONTEXT: A photo of the All Progressives Congress vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima allegedly eating with Boko Haram terrorists has been circulating online.
The picture shows the former governor of Borno State sitting and eating on a mat with five men whose appearance resembled that of Fulani herdsmen. VERIFICATION: Our partners at Daily Trust carried out an analysis of the photo using Google reverse image search which showed that it had been on the internet since November 2017. They also ascertained that the picture has generated several reactions purporting that Shettima was dining with Boko Haram terrorists who have ravaged the Northeastern part of Nigeria, killing thousands of citizens.
Also in circulation is a statement by an alleged former aide to the Senator, I. A Ningi, explaining that the image was shot when the governor had a meeting with some nomadic (Mbororo) Fulani parents in Borno.
Backing Shettima, the former Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial district, Shehu Sani, said linking Shettima with Boko Haram was mischief.
“Those who are aggrieved over the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling party have the constitutional right to express their objections.
“However, the remarks that trailed the ticket, including insinuations and allegations linking Shettima to the formation, growth and deadly destruction by the Boko Haram group is condemnable and mischievous,” Sani said in a statement.
Despite several reports and reactions, linking Shettima to the activities of Boko Haram while he was Borno State governor, none of the allegations has been proved.
Hence, there is no sufficient evidence to back the claim that the Senator was dining with alleged Boko Haram members as depicted in the viral photo.
CLAIM: Osun State Governor and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Adegboyega Oyetola was attacked during his campaign in Osogbo, Osun state.
VERIFICATION: Investigations carried out by CDD fact-checkers using the InVid video tool yielded no results. The video was put on the deepware to see if the image has been altered in any way and the result came out inconclusive. However, an in-depth examination of the video led to a deep dive into the online space, and findings revealed that the amateur video first appeared online on October 17, 2020. This was during the #EndSARS protest nationwide, including in Osogbo Osun state. As reports had documented, the protest in Osogbo, like elsewhere, hoodlums had hijacked the process, leading to the attack on the convoy of the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola. The video was used on several credible news platforms including Channels Television, TVC and other print media, prior to its resurfacing on July 6, 2022, ahead of the Osun state gubernatorial elections scheduled to hold on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm that the Osun State Governor and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Adegboyega Oyetola was not attacked during his campaign in Osogbo. The trending video is old and is being circulated as though, it has just happened.
CDD is urging members of the public, particularly residents and voters in Osun state to be conscious of political and electoral disinformation and misinformation. If you must share any news report, do read beyond the headlines, and independently verify the story before sharing.
WHY WE FACT CHECKED THIS: The Osun election of July 16 just like every election is filled with fake news in the information space, aimed at swaying voters. CDD fact-checked this claim to provide facts to civilians and debunk claims that could manipulate voters
CLAIM: Delegates sent to UK over Ekweremadu’s case arrested.
Context: On Thursday, a high-powered Nigerian delegation was at the Westminster Court in London for the trial of Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President. A Twitter user claimed that members of the delegation were arrested. The post, which has gone viral, reads, “Breaking news: Delegates sent from Nigeria by the FG to get a lawyer that will defend Ike Ekweremadu, have all been arrested by the UK government.
“All the delegates sent were arrested, UK government narrated those delegates sent were on the UK wanted list for sponsoring Boko Haram.”
Verification: Investigation of the claim by our partners at Daily Trust, revealed that the claim is misleading as the Twitter user claimed that the Senate sent a delegation to get a lawyer for Ekweremadu. However, the Senate sent members of its committee on foreign affairs to find out more details on the case.
Why We Checked This: The law suit against Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria on the count of organ harvesting in the UK has caused a social media uproar and as such brought about several fake news. CDD fact checked this claim to give the people the facts on the case.
CLAIM: Wike said that PDP will vote southern presidential candidate in 2023
Context: A post on Facebook by the “APC Frontier Group” claiming that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said he will support a southern candidate in the 2023 presidential election is currently causing rancour across social media platforms. The post reads:
“Sule Lamido thinks I am a fool that he will say PDP should promise me presidency after the tenure of Atiku. Who go dash Atiku president self? …we are not second-class citizens in this country, you can’t like Rivers money but hate us, we will vote southern president next year.”
Verification: To investigate the claim, our partners at Daily Trust went through the Twitter handle of the governor and his other social media handles to find out whether he actually made such remarks but couldn’t see anything of such. They also conducted a web search of major newspaper sites, blogs and online platforms to see if there is any story as such attributed to Wike but couldn’t find anything.
Checks show that Governor Wike was aggrieved following the outcome of the PDP primaries which produced Mr. Atiku Abubakar as the flagbearer. However, the governor has not made any comment on leaving the party.
There were reports that he was leaving the party after playing host to presidential aspirants like Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) as well as Mr. Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party.
However, he has made no hint to or any plans to leave the party.
Why We Checked This: Following the APC national convention to elect the party’s presidential flag bearer, Wike who was one of the candidates to lose to Atiku has taken a backseat in the party activities causing several rumors and speculations on his future political plans. To avoid ethnic disinformation like these from swaying the people’s vote, CDD has fact checked the claim to debunk the viral claim.
CLAIM: On July 7, 2022, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a claim trending in Osogbo and around the State of Osun that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is mopping up and buying Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) from Voters to use on election day. The trending story also alleged that the party was working with Independent National Commission (INEC) to be able to use proxies to present PVCs which will count for votes for their party.
FACT CHECKING PROCESS:CDD fact checkers reviewed the trending claim to ascertain its validity. Fact checkers could not independently verify that the APC in Osun state was buying and mopping up PVCs from voters of the state to use same on election day, scheduled for Saturday, July 16, 2022. However, Fact Checkers reviewed the INEC accreditation and voting process which has been widely publicized in its Election Guidelines and Regulations.
INEC introduced the Bi-Model Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to detect fraud in the accreditation and voting process. BVAS is now used to ascertain if the PVCs presented at the polling unit, truly belong to the persons presenting the cards and that PVC must correspond with those in the register of voters in that polling unit. The allegations that the party was buying or mopping PVCs of voters, with the aim of using proxies to present the PVCs and vote will therefore be a difficult task. Since INEC introduced BVAS, the use of Incidence Form has been abolished. During the 2018 election in Osun state, Incidence Forms were used to authenticate and accredit voters, whose fingerprints failed.
To validate these findings, the accreditation process for the 2022 Osun elections has four (4) steps which were used during the Ekiti State governorship elections held on Saturday, July 18, 2022.
The steps include the following:
BVAS will be used to capture fingerprints of the card bearer (i.e. the voter)
There will be a request for the voter to place his/her finger on the fingerprint scanner of the BVAS for authentication.
If the voter fails to be authenticated using his/her fingerprint, they will proceed to step four.
Authentication of voters using the Photo option; will ensure that the intending voter will be captured automatically by the BVAS for facial authentication.
Where/When BVAS fails to authenticate the intending voter, that voter will be unable to vote in the election, because authentication failure is the same as non-accreditation.
CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm that the claims that APC was buying or mopping up PVCs from Voters to use on election day is FALSE, as evidence has proven that a PVC can only be used by the owner. CDD is urging members of the public, particularly voters in the state of Osun to independently verify trending stories, especially on blogs and social media platforms, before sharing same.
The 2023 general election will be a defining moment not just for Nigeria but also for West Africa. The region has suffered democratic decline and experienced coups and counter-coups in the past three years. However, beyond the hopes of the emergence of transformational leadership that will change the country’s fate, there are existing challenges that threaten the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s 2023 election will be the seventh to be conducted in the fourth republic. It will be unique for two reasons. First, it will not have an incumbent running. Second, the country has promulgated the 2022 Electoral Act, bringing new changes to election guidelines and regulations. However, the 2023 election is one that many analysts speculate will be fraught with severe challenges. Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones are currently embroiled in different conflicts, ranging from farmer-herder clashes witnessed in all the zones to banditry and terrorist threats in the northwest and north-central and secessionist agitations in the southeast. These conflict situations are likely to deteriorate further with increased political violence that could affect the safety of election materials, personnel and even voters. In addition, the security situation could affect voter turnout – despite ongoing voter registration already surpassing 85 million registered voters – and even the legitimacy of the results.
Beyond the security situation and the controversies arising from the interpretation of the 2022 Electoral Act by politicians and political parties, the lack of internal democracy in parties, monetization of the electoral process and the issue of zoning will all be critical issues that are likely to affect the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
It is on this basis that the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) organized a one-day colloquium to discuss “Emerging Issues that will Shape the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria”. The event was held on 25 May 2022 and was attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders interested in ensuring the peaceful and credible conduct of elections in Nigeria. They included the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and his immediate predecessor, representatives from leading civil society groups, political parties, security agencies, academia, and the media.
The keynote address by Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, kicked off the day of discussions and was followed by four enriching panel sessions that x-rayed diverse emerging challenges to the conduct of elections in Nigeria with solutions proffered. The first panel dealt with the perquisites for a successful general election in 2023. The second panel examined the emerging threats and challenges to a successful 2023 general election. The theme of the third panel was the pathways to electoral accountability in 2023, while the fourth panel was a summary of cardinal issues arising from the colloquium.
Claim: Peter Obi Son was seen stepping on a Nigerian Flag
Context:A tweetcontaining a picture of a young man wearing a face mask and stepping on a Nigerian flag has gone viral. The photo is captioned “This is Peter Obi’s son, the IPOB in them is further confirmed in the clothes wear and marching on our green white green flag and the same father is campaigning to rule Nigeria?”
Verification: Our partners at Daily Trust, during investigation came across a tweet from Doyin Okupe, Director General of Peter Obi’s campaign organization stating that “This is not Peter Obi’s son. No amount of falsehood will dampen the current wave of support for Peter Obi. See what they’re sharing in the north to Scare people from Peter Obi.” debunking the viral claim.
Peter Obi’s media office also responded to the viral tweet saying that “Every day, the desperation of the opposition is becoming stronger. Their latest mischief is the circulation of a picture, most probably contrived, of a young man in Biafra apparel standing on Nigeria’s flag and passed it as Mr. Peter Obi’s son. We wish to state that the said young man is not Mr. Peter Obi’s son, who, by his strict upbringing marked by rigorous discipline, understands what civic duty and responsibilities entail.”
Why We Checked This: The forthcoming Nigerian general election of 2023 will be dominated by rumours, fake news and unsubstantiated reports. Many of these comments will be at improving or impairing the reputation of presidential candidates. Sadly, the divisions in our politics also extend along ethnic and religious fault lines that can lead to conflict and violence if left to fester. The claim is fact checked to remove bias like this from affecting the choice of the citizens at the poll in the general election.
Le Centre pour la Démocratie et le Développement (CDD) a publié aujourd’hui sa dernière analyse des défis posés par les fake news à l’écosystème de l’information en Afrique de l’Ouest. Fake News en Afrique de l’Ouest : les flux, les facilitateurs et les impacts’ s’appuie sur une série de rapports nationaux publiés au cours du premier semestre 2022.
Le rapport, rédigé par Idayat Hassan, directrice du CDD, et Jamie Hitchen, rédacteur en chef du CDD et chercheur honoraire à l’Université de Birmingham, détaille les individus ou organisations impliqués dans la diffusion de fausses informations, les tactiques qu’ils cherchent à employer, ainsi que l’influence et l’impact qu’ils ont. Il examine également les approches employées jusqu’à présent pour répondre à la menace des fake news. Principales conclusions de l’étude
La diffusion de fausses nouvelles dans les écosystèmes d’information en Afrique de l’Ouest est en augmentation. Bien que favorisée par l’accès croissant aux médias sociaux et à l’internet dans la région, le flux de fausses nouvelles n’est pas simplement confiné aux espaces en ligne mais circule entre les environnements hors ligne et numériques avec régularité et facilité.
La manière dont les informations circulent entre les réseaux en ligne et hors ligne est essentielle pour comprendre comment les fake news se propagent et influencent les actions en Afrique de l’Ouest. Il en va de même pour la confiance. Les informations qu’un destinataire considère comme provenant d’une source digne de confiance – qu’il s’agisse de la source originale de l’information ou de la personne qui l’a partagée en dernier lieu – restent fondamentales pour décider de ce qui est vrai et de ce qui ne l’est pas, et pour déterminer si l’information correspond aux croyances et aux préjugés existants.
Les sept principaux groupes engagés dans la diffusion de fausses informations sont les militants politiques, les influenceurs en ligne, l’État, les entreprises de médias, les cabinets de conseil spécialisés, la diaspora et les États étrangers.
Pendant les élections, la lutte d’influence sur un public en ligne toujours plus nombreux est amplifiée, les acteurs politiques recrutant de plus en plus de “cyber-guerriers” nationaux ou de spécialistes de la communication régionale et internationale pour leur donner un avantage électoral.
Les réponses à la prolifération croissante des “fake news” dans l’écosystème de l’information sont mises au défi par le fait que l’État n’est non seulement pas un acteur impartial, mais qu’il s’engage aussi soit dans la diffusion et la création de faussetés, soit dans la restriction intéressée des flux d’information en ligne.
Les États d’Afrique de l’Ouest ont cherché à mettre un frein aux fake news en limitant l’espace, soit par la fermeture de plateformes ou d’Internet, soit par la mise à jour de la législation existante
ou la création de nouvelles lois – pour faire face à la désinformation numérique. Mais la réglementation numérique dans la région reste principalement utilisée comme un outil politique. Si la réglementation peut faire partie de la solution pour lutter contre les mensonges, cela n’est vrai que si elle est supervisée par un arbitre crédible et indépendant. Une recommandation essentielle est l’amélioration de la culture numérique des citoyens ordinaires par le biais de campagnes de sensibilisation du public, d’initiatives de vérification des faits et de révision des programmes d’enseignement. Des citoyens généralement plus instruits seront mieux placés pour arbitrer entre le vrai et le faux lorsqu’ils seront confrontés à de nouvelles informations en ligne ou hors ligne. Une pression accrue sur les entreprises de médias sociaux pour qu’elles modèrent efficacement leurs plateformes contre les discours haineux et les faussetés, aura un impact transformateur sur
la réduction non seulement des fausses nouvelles en circulation en Afrique de l’Ouest, mais aussi du degré d’acceptation des faussetés par ses citoyens.
Pour parler avec les auteurs de ce rapport ou si vous souhaitez examiner les 15 études nationales produites dans le cadre de cette série. Veuillez contacter Esther Yusuf (email@example.com) / Ndifreke Ferdinand (firstname.lastname@example.org) +234(9)2902304
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has today published its latest analysis of the challenges posed by fake news to the information ecosystem across West Africa. ‘Fake News in West Africa: Flows, facilitators and fixes’ builds on a series of country level reports released in the first half of 2022. The report, authored by CDD’s director, Idayat Hassan and Jamie Hitchen, CDD’s editor-at-large and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham details the individuals or organisations involved in the spread of falsehoods, the tactics they seek to employ, and the influence and impact that they are having. It also discusses the approaches employed so far to respond to the fake news threat. Key findings from the study
1. The spread of falsehoods across information ecosystems in West Africa is growing. Although enabled by increasing access to social media and the internet across the region, the flow of fake news is not simply confined to online spaces but moves between offline and digital environments with regularity and ease.
2. The way information flows between online and offline networks is critical for understanding how fake news spreads and influences actions across West Africa. So too is trust. Information that a recipient deems to be from a trustworthy source – be that the original source of the information or the individual who last shared it – remains fundamental to decisions about what is true and what is not, along with whether the information aligns with existing beliefs and biases.
3. The seven main groups engaged in the spread of falsehoods are political activists, online influencers, the state, media enterprises, specialist consultancy firms, the diaspora and foreign states.
4. During elections, the battle for influence over an ever growing online audience is amplified, with political actors increasingly recruiting domestic ‘cyber warriors’ or regional and international communication specialists to give them an electoral advantage.
5. Responses to the growing proliferation of fake news in the information ecosystem are challenged by the fact that the state is not only not an impartial actor, but that it also engages either in the spread and creation of falsehoods or in the self-serving restriction of online information flows.
6. West African states have sought to clamp down on fake news by limiting the space, either through platform or internet shutdowns or through updating existing — or creating new — legislation to deal with digital disinformation.
7. But digital regulation in the region is still primarily used as a political tool. Whilst regulation can be part of the solution to tackling falsehoods, this is only true if it is overseen by a credible and independent arbiter.
8. Critical recommendation is improving the digital literacy of ordinary citizens through public awareness campaigns, fact-checking initiatives, and revised education curricula. A generally more educated citizenry will be better positioned to arbitrate between true and false when encountering new information either online or offline.
9. More pressure on social media companies to effectively moderate their platforms for hate speech and falsehoods, will have a transformative impact on reducing not just the fake news in circulation in West Africa, but the degree to which falsehoods are embraced by its citizens.
Claim: An image of APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, raising the hand of Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has led to rumours that Zulum has been picked as the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
Context: After winning the June 2022 APC presidential primaries, Bola Tinubu submitted Kabiru Masari as a placeholder running mate to beat the INEC deadline for registration of running mates. However, he has till July 15 to substitute the name and has been in negotiations with party officials to determine who he will tap to run with him. As a southerner, it is expected he will field a northern running mate, but there has been speculation and concern about picking a fellow Muslim.
Verification: During a recent event to mark the birthday celebration of Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Tinubu confirmed he was still searching for a running mate while celebrating the relationship between the Speaker and his deputy. Furthermore, no official statement has been made on either the candidate or the party’s social media platforms. Finally, the Borno APC chapter has also not commenced work on substituting Zulum as their governorship candidate.
Why We Checked This: Religious tensions have long led to incidents of violence in the country. The possible selection of Zulum could lead to issues in other Northern regions, either by aggrieved leaders or communities. It is also important that false information is curtailed in the lead up to the 2023 general elections.
Claim: Rivers State Governor, and runner-up at the recently concluded PDP presidential primaries, Nyesom Wike has defected to the Labour party in support of its nominee, Peter Obi
Context: SaharaNews, an online publication, reported that Wike had moved to support fellow southern presidential candidate Peter Obi. Interestingly, Obi had notably also left the PDP before the primaries.
Verification: Our partners at Daily Trust have uncovered that not only is the headline false, but the video attached was an old clip of Wike. The original video was also muted for some minutes and a background voice was heard endorsing Peter Obi and ridiculing other candidates and politicians. The voice also mentioned that Wike is angry.
Why We Checked This: Recently, during the June 2022 Ekiti State Governorship election, a viral post stated that the SDP candidate, Segun Oni, had stepped down to endorse the PDP candidate, Bisi Kolawole. We worked with other CSOs to debunk this news but, as it was on the eve of the elections, we cannot ascertain if this affected the decision of voters during the polls.
Multiple posts were made on social media suggesting that the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu never studied at the Chicago State University stating that whatever certificate he has from the school is fake.
Several documents kept flying on social media verifying that he did attend Chicago State University from 1977 to 1979.
A Factcheck by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) revealed that all claims are false. CDD reached out to the office of the registrar at CSU via email and the response from the office verified that he majored in accounting and was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Honors on June 22, 1979.
CDD can confirm that the claim of the APC presidential candidate not studying at CSU and forging a certificate is false.
CLAIM: A Tweep, had tweeted via @Nkemchor_, “Mbaka attacked Peter Obi and lost his Adoration Ground Wike attacked Peter Obi and lost the Primaries Ike Ekweremadu attacked Peter Obi and got arrested for Organ Trafficking in the Uk. It seems this Peter Obi movement has become spiritual.”
FACT CHECKING PROCESS: Preliminary findings show that the tweet which was made in the afternoon of June 23, 2022 had garnered 3,991 retweeets, 244 Quote tweets and over 11,000 likes as at June 27, 2022.
A stingy man, that cannot give people his money, with this hunger ravaging the land, and you are saying he is the one you want. Do you want to die of hunger? Are you people insane? Where is the Holy Spirit? Mbaka opined.
So, when we talk of character and integrity, it is an issue. You can be the best economist, but you don’t have character, no integrity. Governor Wike stated.
On his part, former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said that the South-East region will not vote for Peter Obi in the 2023 presidential election. Shortly after the governor of Delta State, Patrick Okowa was announced as Atiku’s running mate, a video trended in which Ekweremadu said, I assure you that South-East will vote for the People Democratic Party (PDP). I can guarantee that. No doubt Peter Obi is our son, but you need to be dynamic. You need to ask yourself, can Peter win the presidential election? Can the East afford to throw away their votes? Can we afford to be sentimental in matters that concern our people, our children, and our future? No. Senator Ekweremadu quoted.
CONCLUSION: Despite the evidence above, while it is true that Senator Ekweremadu was arrested in the UK, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, whose parish was suspended on the directives of Bishop Callistus Onaga, returned to the Adoration Ground to address the Adorers, Vanguard confirmed. And Governor Wike, who contested in the PDP’s primary election did not lose the contest because of the comments on Peter Obi. Many political pundits praised the gallant role of the Rivers Governor in that race. All claims by the individual cannot be substantiated as several factors came to play on all occasions bothering the three personalities mentioned.
CLAIM: On May 19, 2022, the Center for Democracy and Development received some videos, pictures and a Facebook post claiming that some supporters of a particular party assaulted some persons in the community.
FACT: Facts gathered from word-of-mouth have it that the fight ensued after some persons were discussing at the garage in Ayetoro Ekiti their favourite political party and candidate this was said to grieve some supporters of APC it was said to escalate to the stabbing of Ayodele Dada a member of SDP by Segun John a member of APC. The stabbed is currently confirmed to be in the hospital at the time of this report receiving treatment. Ido Osi Local Government area Ekiti North Senatorial District.
CONCLUSION: CDD has confirmed that the Political violence is true and the command has commenced an investigation into the issue and the situation is under control.
CDD urges the members of the public to desist from any form of political violence. Pre, during and Post Election.