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INFORMATIONS FALLACIEUSES EN AFRIQUE DE L’OUEST – FLUX, FACILITATEURS ET IMPACTS

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

Jamie Hitchen et Idayat Hassan – June 2022

Le phénomène de propagation des informations mensongères à travers les écosystèmes d’informations en Afrique de l’Ouest s’amplifie. Bien que rendu possible par l’accès croissant aux réseaux sociaux et à Internet dans la région, le flux d’informations fallacieuses n’est pas simplement limité aux espaces en ligne, mais circule entre les environnements hors ligne et numériques, et ce, régulièrement et facilement. Ainsi, dès qu’une rumeur est lancée par un influenceur en ligne sur Facebook et qu’elle devient une tendance, cette rumeur peut faire l’objet de débats et de discussions dans des émissions de télévision ou de radio, ce qui élargit son audience. Ces débats, à leur tour, font ensuite l’objet de discussions et de débats dans des lieux de rassemblement tels que les marchés, les bases des atayahs, les lieux de rassemblement des motos-taxis ou les grins1 qui leur permettent de circuler à travers des réseaux bien établis de rumeurs par le bouche- à-oreille. Pour compléter le cycle, ces rumeurs hors ligne peuvent ensuite être transposées en ligne et peuvent être davantage biaisées dans le but de désinformer ou simplement de renforcer une information mensongère déjà en circulation.

La manière dont les informations circulent entre les réseaux en ligne et hors ligne permettent de mieux comprendre comment les informations fallacieuses se propagent et influencent les actions en Afrique de l’Ouest. Il en va de même pour la confiance. L’information que l’on considère comme provenant d’une source digne de confiance – que ce soit la source d’origine de l’information ou la personne qui l’a partagée en dernier – est essentielle pour déterminer ce qui est vrai ou faux, et si cette information se conforme à des idées reçues et à des préjugés existants. Ces deux critères deviennent de plus en plus évidents pour tous ceux qui participent à la Les études par pays ont identifié sept acteurs clés impliqués dans la diffusion d’informations mensongères et leurs effets dans les domaines de la politique, de la santé et de la cohésion sociale. Ces acteurs sont des militants politiques, des influenceurs en ligne, l’État, des entreprises médiatiques, des sociétés de conseil spécialisées, la diaspora et des États étrangers. Si le rapport entre la propriété des médias et la politique en Afrique de l’Ouest a toujours favorisé la circulation d’informations fallacieuses, le nombre croissant d’utilisateurs des réseaux sociaux dans la région donne une place privilégiée aux influenceurs en ligne et à la diaspora qui dispose d’une audience numérique importante et souvent réceptive. Pendant les élections, la lutte pour exercer une influence sur ce public en ligne est amplifiée, les acteurs politiques recrutant de plus en plus de « cyber- guerriers » nationaux ou de spécialistes de la communication régionale et internationale pour obtenir un avantage électoral.

Les réponses au phénomène grandissant de la prolifération des informations fallacieuses dans l’écosystème de l’information rencontrent des difficultés du fait que non seulement l’État n’est pas un acteur impartial, mais qu’il participe également à la diffusion et à la création d’informations mensongères ou dans la restriction égoïste des flux d’information en ligne. Néanmoins, il existe également des exemples d’interventions gouvernementales plus bénéfiques sur le plan social dans l’écosystème de l’information. Pendant la pandémie de la Covid-19, on a observé des exemples de pays qui faisaient des efforts pour rendre plus transparentes les informations sur les initiatives de santé publique.

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FACT CHECK: Does Elon Musk Own A Hotel in Mars?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

Verdict: False

CLAIM: CDD spotted a trending story online, that Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who achieved global fame as the chief executive officer (CEO) of electric autos maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and CEO of the private space company is set to unveil his new hotel in Mars. The story on social media and blogs claimed that the world’s richest man is set to open soon his latest investment, a hotel, in Mars. According to the message with the accompanied image claimed a night rate at the hotel will be $5 million.

Fact Check: In verifying the claim, we verified the image using the fact checking tool, Tineye; a reverse image search engine that allows one to search by image. The result revealed that the image was first uploaded online by venturebeat.com as a proposed model of lab biomes Interstellar, which is expected to be built on Mojave Desert, Mars. The website has a trailer video of Interstellar Labs future, where the image appeared.

However, Elon Musk Trust is the owner of SpaceX, a Space Exploration Technologies Corp, which became famous after it first big headline, when it became the first private company to launch a payload into orbit and return it to Earth intact—something only government agencies like NASA or Russia’s Roscosmos had done before.  In 2020 Musk claimed that SpaceX will put a million people on Mars by 2050, there has been no recent claim of this on Elon’s official twitter page or on trustworthy news site.  Since its first crewed flight in 2020, SpaceX has continued to launch astronauts to the International Space Station and return them home to Earth as part of a partnership with NASA.

Fact checkers searched through Elon Musk’s social media and information platforms, including his verified Twitter account, with 102.7 million followers and cannot find any post relating to an hotel in Mars. 

Source: CDD West Africa

In conclusion, we can confirm that the posts and reports claiming that Elon Musk will soon open a hotel in Mars, which is expected to cost $5 million a night is false. With this check, CDD continues to provide the global community with facts to make informed choices; therefore, advises citizens against peddling false information.

FACT CHECK: Is Peter Obi’s Claim that Nigeria Has About 100 Players in NBA True?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Peter Obi claimed that Nigeria has about 100 players in NBA.

VERDICT: False

Peter Obi. Photo/Facebook/

CONTEXT: Responding to a question posed during an interview on Politics Today, a Programme on Channels Television, the Labour Party presidential candidate replying to  a question on why he is focused on supporting the youth, said

“…proud, celebrating their talent. And this is what we have everywhere. If you go into the American NBA, out of 150 players, almost 100 are Nigerians. These youths are so talented that they are where you need to focus to reach their talent and productive energy to turn around the country…” 

VERIFICATION: Our partners at Daily Trust have clarified where the misconception behind this claim might have come from. Teams in the U.S invite unregistered or young players, referred to as rookies, to their training camps so that the coaching staff can evaluate their performance and select their active roster. However, actual registered NBA players are restricted to 15 players on each of the 30 teams which adds up to 450 players, of which Nigeria only has 10.

Relying on available data, we can confirm that Nigeria does not have about 100 players in the NBA as claimed by Peter Obi. In fact, no country or continent has produced up to that number since the inception of the league. Therefore, the claim by Obi is false in its entirety.

Source: CDD West Africa

WHY WE FACT-CHECKED THIS:  Several presidential candidates have been peddling fake news in a bid to support their campaign. This claim was fact-checked to provide facts to Nigerian citizens.

FACT CHECK: Did Members of the PDP’s Executive Committee in Kwara State Decamp to APC?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: All executive members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State have defected to the APC.

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: A twitter account, purportedly belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Kwara State chapter, tweeted that all executive members of the state opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had defected to their party.

Source: Twitter

VERIFICATION: Our partners at Daily Trust could not find the names of said PDP decampees on the aforementioned Twitter handle. Furthermore, findings showed that although some former executive members of the Peoples Democratic Party defected to the All Progressives Congress. in June 2022, none of them was a current member of the party’s state. The decampees cited the achievements of Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as the rationale behind their defection.

Source: CDD West Africa

Most of the decampees during that period were members of the Kwara State PDP Transformation Movement a group formed with the aim of fighting for the right of PDP members who are thought to be maltreated by the party which included former executives of the opposition party and former political office holders.

FACT CHECK: CHECKING CLAIMS MADE DURING ATIKU’S INTERVIEW

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CONTEXT: In a one-hour exclusive interview on Arise TV, the former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar made several claims that are fact-check worthy.

Source: Daily News

CLAIM 1: Atiku claimed that the power generation capacity in 1999 was 4,000MW.

VERDICT: FALSE

CONTEXT: The rights activist and presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore claimed that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration failed to solve the nation’s electricity problems to which the former Vice President of Nigeria responded “When we came in 1999, the total generation (capacity) was about 4,000 Megawatts. We initiated the building of nine additional power stations and by the time those nine were finished, the capacity has gone up from 4,000 Megawatts to about 13,000 Megawatts.

VERIFICATION: Responding to a letter from the House of Representatives Committee on Power and Steel, probing the expenditure in the power sector between 1999 and 2007, then President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote in a letter dated 12 May, 2008, that his administration inherited an installed capacity of 6,000 Megawatts even though only 1500MW was being generated.

Source: CDD West Africa

CLAIM 2: 90% of Nigerians from the northern part of the country are not on social media.

VERDICT: Insufficient Evidence

CONTEXT: Atiku, while expressing his thoughts on Peter Obi’s chances in next year’s presidential election, said 90% of Nigerians from the northern part of the country are not on social media.

“…They were saying through social media, that they have more than one million votes in Osun State but how many people voted for Labour Party? And there again mark you, you are talking about social media, in the North 90 per cent of our people are not tuned to social media,” .

VERIFICATION: To verify the claim, our partners at Daily Trust explored the Statista database which asserts that 110 million of an estimated 200 million Nigerians have access to the internet, with 53.15 million on social media as of 2022.

Following a check of the culmination of followers that Atiku and Peter Obi has on the three main social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it was evident that Atiku has way more followers on social media than Peter Obi.

Several twitter and Facebook profiles are dedicated to Hausa, the most common language in the northern part of Nigeria such as BBC News Hausa, Premium Times Hausa. Although one can safely say that there is a higher number of social media users in the South compared to the  North following a report by National Bureau of Statistics which puts the number of active internet subscription in the North at 68.5m and the South at 77m. This indirectly translates to active social media users as its one of the key uses of data subscription unlike Atiku’s claim that has no known data supporting his assertion that 90 per cent of Northerners are not on social media. Hence the basis of Atiku’s claim is unfounded.

WHY WE FACT-CHECKED THIS: CDD fact-checked these claims to help the electorate hold politicians accountable during the electoral season


FACT CHECK: Are Nigeria’s Federal, Appeal and Supreme Courts Headed by Christians?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: A former aviation minister and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Femi Fani Kayode popularly known as FFK, recently took to his Twitter handle to say that the federal high court, appeal court and the supreme court are all headed by Christians. The tweet has since gathered thousands of engagements.

Source: Africa Daily News

CLAIM 1: Southwest had 4 immediate past governors who are Muslims 

VERIFICATION: In verifying the Minister’s claim, our partners at Daily Trust sought to find out the immediate past governors in the Southwest before the ones currently governing the state.

Findings show that In Oyo State, late senator Abiola Ajimobi, a Muslim was the immediate past governor before Mr. Seyi Makinde came on board.

In Lagos State, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, a Christian was the immediate past governor before Babajide Sanwolu, also a Christian took over.

In Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, a current senator was the immediate past governor of the state. He is a Muslim and has governed the state for eight years before Mr Dapo Abiodun, a Christian took over.

In Osun State, the tenure of Mr Gboyega Oyetola (a Muslim) will be coming to an end in November this year following his inability to get a return ticket as he was defeated in the July 2022 governorship elections by Senator Ademola Adeleke, who is a Christian.

Source: Daily Trust

In Ekiti, former Governor Ayodele Fayose, a Christian, was the immediate past governor of the state who completed his two terms in office before the incumbent, Dr Kayode Fayemi, also a Christian took over the mantle of leadership.

 In Ondo State, the immediate past governor of the state, Olusegun Mimiko, a Christian was succeeded by Rotimi Akeredolu, the incumbent governor who is a Christian.

Following previous records, the claim that South West had four Muslim governors before the incumbents is not true as the former governors who are Muslims are three namely; Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.

Source: CDD West Africa

CLAIM 2: All heads of the judiciary are Christians

VERIFICATION: Checks by Daily Trust has shown that Justice John T. Tsoho who was appointed as the Chief Judge of the federal high court is a Christian.

He was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

Similarly, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, a Christian is Nigeria’s current president of the Appeal court. She was appointed in June 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari in June this year swore in Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, although the president has recently sent his name to the National Assembly to be confirmed as the substantive CJN.

Justice Ariwoola, who is a Muslim by virtue of the being the CJN, heads the Supreme court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

While the Federal High court and Appeal courts are headed by Christians, the Supreme court is headed by a Muslim who doubles as the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, as such the claim by Fani Kayode is FALSE.

FACT CHECK: HAS INEC RECOGNISED SENATE PRESIDENT LAWAN, AKPABIO AS SENATORIAL CANDIDATES?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

Verdict: FALSE

Claim: On August 9, 2022, Sahara Reporters published a breaking news: Nigerian Electoral Body, INEC Succumbs To Pressure From Ruling APC, Backdates Documents To Recognise Senate President Lawan, Akpabio As Senatorial Candidates. This is the second time; the news outlet will make this claim. On July 8, 2022, it published Nigerian Electoral Body, INEC Succumbs To Pressure From Ruling APC To Recognise Senate President, Lawan As Yobe Senatorial Candidate, Moves To Destroy Electoral Commissioner’s Report. These claims have generated debates on social media, particularly on WhatsApp. In the new claim, the media organization said, it has credible evidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has backdated Certified True Copies (CTC) of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries to accommodate Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio and others as candidates in the 2023 general elections.

To validate its claim, the online news reporter, published the INEC document for the nomination of candidates by political parties. The document dated June 17, 2022, also has INEC’s CTC stamp dated July 15, 2022.

Fact Check: CDD’s fact check of July 10, 2022 had earlier countered Sahara Reporters’ claim of July 8, 2022. In the new claim, fact checkers applied Tineye, a fact check tool to verify the authenticity of INEC’s form EC9C; the form for nomination of candidates by political parties. The form EC9C is what political parties use to submit to INEC, the names of its nominated candidates, which must be signed by the party’s recognized national chairman and secretary. This is not an INEC’s report.

As the date shows, June 17, 2022, was the last date for the submission of nominations by political parties, as stated in the INEC’s Time table and Guideline for the 2023 general elections. According the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during the meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), the INEC’s portal closed at 6:00pm on June 17, 2022. The All Progressives Congress (APC), the party whose form EC9C is being interrogated, submitted the names of both Akpabio and Lawan on that date (June 17, 2022).

INEC has since published the personal particulars of nominated candidates of political parties, the details of both Lawan and Akpabio were not included as our earlier fact check show. CDD can independently confirm that the matter is now in court, which required INEC to certify a true copy of the form EC9C dated July 15, 2022, following the litigation processes.

Further check can confirm that INEC was yet to publish the final list of candidates; which according to Timetable is September 20, 2022, for Presidential and National Assembly elections. This is in line with Section 32 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022.

Conclusion: CDD can confirm that the breaking story by Sahara Report, which is also trending online is false. As we head to the 2023 general elections, electorates and indeed Nigerians must be curious of political information; particularly on the online space. Electoral disinformation will dominate the country’s ecosystem. The aim of peddlers of misleading contents and information among others is to delegitimize the election management body and ultimately the electoral system. Each one has the responsibility to share verified information. 

FACT CHECK: Did Tinubu’s Daughter Ask Him To Drop Presidential Ambition As Claimed In Viral Video?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Tinubu’s daughter is opposed to her father’s desperation to be president.

VERDICT: FALSE

CONTEXT: A viral Twitter post, attributed to belong to the daughter of the All Progressive Congress presidential nominee, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, shows her cautioning him to drop his presidential ambition on the grounds that he is not fit for the position. In the video, the woman called Tinubu her father at different points while making her point.

VERIFICATION: Checks conducted by our partners at Daily Trust revealed that the caption is misleading as the video was originally posted on Instagram by an activist and Instagram influencer, Adetoun Onajobi on her official page, (justadetoun) in July.

Further checks gathered that she referred to Tinubu as her “father” in the video figuratively, because she considers him a father out of respect and the relationship he has with her husband. This is supported by her interview on the Channels TV show, Rubbin’ Minds, that “Tinubu is like a father to me but I will never endorse him.”

cdd fact check

We can confirm that the video is misleading and was not made by any of Tinubu’s biological children.

WHY WE FACT-CHECKED THIS: The claim was done to avert any attempt to discredit any candidate based on fake news and misinformation.

CDD Fact Check: Does Nigeria Have About 190k Polling Units?

By Fact Check, Fact Checks, Fake NewsNo Comments

VERDICT: False

CLAIM: CDD fact checkers spotted a trending tweet by Daniel Bwala, a lawyer and until recently served as a special adviser on legal matters to the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.

On August 1, 2022, Mr. Bwala claimed there are about 190,000 polling units in Nigeria. He also maintained that a minimum of three-party agents are required at the polling unit.

The tweet reads: “There are about 190k polling units in Nigeria. A party needs a minimum of 3 agents in each polling unit; 570k human beings in total. “That’s structure existing not on social media. Anyway, it will be clearer as we approach elections. Insult is not a substitute for structure”.

FACT CHECK PROCESS: CDD Fact check on the claim indicated that Daniel Bwala’s data were inaccurate. As at August 2, 2022, the tweet has garnered over 3,000 (626 retweets, 190 Quotes and 2,333 likes) engagements and still growing.

According to the Election Management Body, there are 176,846 polling units listed on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) website. INEC, on June 16th, 2021, removed polling units from ‘inappropriate’ places and worship centers across the country. The commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja.

At the meeting, he unveiled the locations of the newly created 56,872 Polling Units (PUs) and also announced other electoral arrangements. With the creation of the new PUs, Mr. Yakubu said, Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged polling units against its initial 119,974 PUs in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He pegged the total number of polling units removed from ‘inappropriate places’ at 749.

Mr Bwala also claimed a party needs a minimum of three party agents in each polling units. Fact check on INEC’s pocketbook for party agents, clearly state that a political party is limited to one agent in each of polling units, as against three agents claimed by Mr. Bwala.

CONCLUSION: CDD fact-checkers can confirm that there are 176,846 polling units in Nigeria and not about 190,000. Additionally, there is a limit of one agent rather than three per polling unit as claimed by Mr. Bwala.

Mr.  Bwala’s data on his tweet are wrong and therefore false.

As the country heads to 2023 general elections, there are several misleading contents online, CDD therefore urges citizens and voters to be careful of content they share, online and offline.

FACT CHECK: Did National Grid Collapse 18 Times In 2022?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: The national grid has collapsed 18 times in 2022

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: An online news site published a news report on its website saying the “National Grid has collapsed for the 18th time in 2022.”

VERIFICATION: In verifying the claim, Daily Trust chronicled the number of times the national grid collapsed in 2022 and found out that it was five times this year, and not 18 times. The latest system collapse being the fifth this year, occurred around 12 noon when the grid went blank. Before now the country experienced similarly collapse on 14 March, 9 April, 10 May and 12 June respectfully.

WHY WE FACT CHECKED THIS: This claim was fact checked to provide the facts to citizens to avoid inflammatory statements leading to potentially volatile responses.

FACT CHECK: Did Hollywood Actor, Tom Hanks, Endorse Peter Obi?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Tom Hanks, a Hollywood actor, has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: A post that has been in circulation on social media claims that Tom Hanks, a Hollywood actor, has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, via a tweet.

VERIFICATION: Checks by our partners at Daily Trust revealed that the post in circulation is false. Interestingly, the last time Hanks tweeted with his verified handle was two years ago, on 22 May, 2020.

Also, the claim that Americans had a standing ovation is false and misleading as there was no account of such in the media.

We can confirm after verification that the post in circulation suggesting Tom Hanks made a tweet endorsing Peter Obi is false.

WHY WE FACT CHECKED THIS: Political campaigns are the source of misleading information, designed to promote or denigrate candidacies. The Centre has fact-checked this to avoid misinformation playing a part in the electoral process.

FACT CHECK: Did APC National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, Share Money During the Election?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: APC National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, was spotted distributing cash to voters during Osun Election.

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: A video has surfaced online showing the National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Iyiola Omisore, distributing cash and clothing materials to a crowd at an open space decorated for an event. In the video, the politician can be seen wearing a green traditional attire with a cap to match sharing N2,000 to individuals, mostly women. The post was made on 14th July, 2022, and had been retweeted several times.

VERIFICATION: To investigate the claim, our partners at Daily Trust carried out a key frame analysis of the video using InVid, an online video verification tool, which revealed that the video had been on the internet since 2014.

The video was first posted by YNaija in a report titled, “#OsunDecides: Thousands gather in Osogbo as Omisore shares cash.” Part of the report reads, “There were thousands of people at the field beside the OYESTECH training centre in Osogbo this afternoon. They were there to receive a sum of money per person from the Omisore Youth Support Foundation (OYSF).”

The result of the investigation revealed that the video alleging that Omisore was buying votes in today’s governorship election in Osun State is an old video aimed to disinform as such should be disregarded as it is false.

WHY WE FACT CHECKED THIS: CDD fact checked this to avoid swaying voters and to avoid complications when result of the election is published.

FACT CHECK: Did Adeleke’s Son Share Money To Voters In Osun?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Adeleke’s son, Adebayo ‘B-Red’ Adeleke, was recorded sharing money to people on the street.

VERDICT: FALSE

CONTEXT: A 15-second video showing the son of Senator Ademola Adeleke, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Osun State, sharing money for people on the street has been posted on Twitter.

The video was captioned “Ademola Adeleke’s son Bred sharing money to voters.”

In the video, Bred was seen giving out N500 notes randomly to people who seem excited to see him.

There were two security men between him and the crowd who were trying to prevent them from getting closer to his car.

The tweet by one Qudus Akanbi Eleyi had amassed over 2,000 views, over 100 likes, and retweets, and more than 40 comments as of the time of filing this report.

VERIFICATION:

Our partners at Daily Trust ascertained that the claim was made by a Twitter user, Qudus Akanbi Eleyi, and the tweet had amassed over 2,000 views, over 100 likes, and retweets, and more than 40 comments as of the time of filing this report. During investigation, we found out that the video was recorded in Lagos State days before the Osun gubernatorial election that took place on 16 July. The singer was only sharing money with fans who were happy to see him upon his arrival in Lagos State. Several comments under tweet confirmed our findings. One of such comments read “why this hate? This is when this guy landed in Lagos airport, why are you all posting this video?”. Another read “This was the day he landed from abroad two days ago. He met people on the road, and they begged him for money which he gave them. This is not today.”

We can confirm that the video in circulation suggesting that Adebayo ‘B-Red’ Adeleke was sharing money to voters on behalf of his father is false.

WHY WE FACT CHECKED THIS: The election information space is saturated with several claims that are targeted at the candidates that could either incite violence or sway votes. This fake news had the potential of the later and as such was debunked by CDD.

FACT CHECK: Was Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola Attacked?

By Election, Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Osun State Governor and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Adegboyega Oyetola was attacked during his campaign in Osogbo, Osun state.

VERDICT: False

CONTEXT: On July 6, 2022, a video surfaced online, trending on several WhatsApp groups, particularly WhatsApp groups connected to Osun State. The trending video, which is still being circulated on July 13, 2022, claimed that the Osun State Governor and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Adegboyega Oyetola was attacked during his campaign in Osogbo, the Osun state capital. In the video, several young people were seen, throwing stones and other objects at the convoy believed to be that of the Governor.

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

FACT CHECK: Were the Delegates Sent to UK Over Ekweremadu’s Case Arrested?

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Delegates sent to UK over Ekweremadu’s case arrested.

Verdict: False

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.

Fact Check: Did Wike Say PDP Will Vote Southern Presidential Candidate In 2023?

By 2023 Elections, Election, Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

CLAIM: Wike said that PDP will vote southern presidential candidate in 2023

Verdict: False

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.

Fact Check: Is APC Buying PVC from Voters to Use on Election Day in Osun State Election?

By 2023 Elections, Election, Fact Check, Fake News, PoliticsNo Comments

VERDICT: FALSE AND MISLEADING

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:

  1. BVAS will be used to capture fingerprints of the card bearer (i.e. the voter)
  2. There will be a request for the voter to place his/her finger on the fingerprint scanner of the BVAS for authentication.
  3. If the voter fails to be authenticated using his/her fingerprint, they will proceed to step four.
  4. 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.

FACT CHECK: Did Peter Obi’s Son Step on a Nigerian Flag?

By 2023 Elections, Fact Check, Fact Checks, Fake NewsNo Comments

Claim: Peter Obi Son was seen stepping on a Nigerian Flag

Verdict: False

Context: A tweet containing 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.

The statement further stated that “Mr. Oseloka Obi is about six feet and taller than his father; while the young man they used for the mischief is slightly above 5 feet. The Peter Obi Media office calls on those seeking elective posts and their supporters to always be guided by the right ethics at all times. Mr. Oseloka Obi is about six feet and taller than his father; while the young man they used for the mischief is slightly above 5 feet

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.

Communiqué de presse : Rapport Sur Les Fake News en Afrique

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

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
(eyusuf@cddwestafrica.org) / Ndifreke Ferdinand (nferdinand@cddwestafrica.org)
+234(9)2902304

Fake News in West Africa: Flows, Facilitators and Fixes

By Fact Check, Fake NewsNo Comments

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.


To speak with the authors of this report or if you have an interest in reviewing the 15 country level
studies produced as part of this series.

Please contact Esther Yusuf (eyusuf@cddwestafrica.org)