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disinformation - Centre for Democracy & Development

ILLIBERAL INFLUENCE FUELS DISINFORMATION IN WEST AFRICA – By Idayat Hassan & Kyle Hiebert

By Competitive ResearchNo Comments

INTRODUCTION

West Africa is undergoing a period of significant transition. Demographic changes, rapid urbanization, the spread of new technologies and the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area have created new development pathways for the resource-rich region, home to 16 countries and roughly 5% of the world’s population. Geopolitical shifts are generating new levels of foreign interest as well. With Western hegemony in decline, a splintering international order has produced opportunities for illiberal state regimes to offer African governments more diverse options for political, economic and military partnerships.

Regional involvement by these actors is not intrinsically negative. China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and others have all contributed to tens of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure improvements, economic trade and development initiatives across the continent. This has benefited countries with growing populations that require better transportation and communications networks, more hospitals and schools, and greater access to finance, clean water and electricity. Spin-off economic activity has created jobs for locals and supported private enterprise by benefiting African suppliers, buyers, subcontractors and entrepreneurs, while boosting intra-regional trade.1 Consumer markets also now feature a wider array of affordable products and greater opportunities for cultural exchange.

The latent risk is the opportunity and potential for illiberal states to further their own interests by interfering with democratic processes in these same countries. Their objective being to prevent civil society groups and electorates from pressuring ruling parties to enact more inclusive and equitable approaches to economic development. Amid a period of intense political and social change made more complex by mounting climate crises, the Covid-19 pandemic and global food and energy shortages stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—West African nations are therefore vulnerable to having their democratic progress stifled as the autocratic tendencies of governments become reinforced by foreign enablers.


A primary tool in this process has been, and will continue to be the deployment of disinformation, by foreign and domestic actors alike. The goal being to influence electoral outcomes and shape public opinion to their advantage. Given West Africa’s rising geopolitical importance and rapid increases in local internet and social media access each year, combined with companies’ limited ability to police their platforms, this trend will only become more prominent.

Read Full Report Here

CDD Newsletter For the Week Ending March 21, 2021

By Fact Check

Disinformation and misinformation are currently being spread in such a manner that they both pose a global threat, causing unease and fear within societies and organisations. With our work at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), we are committed to empowering people across the West African region with adequate knowledge that could help them to identify and verify all forms of false information and claims.

At the Centre, we believe democracy can hardly thrive in an environment filled with falsehood – whether online or offline – and the chaos that results from it.

Over the weekend, news platforms across Nigeria reported that a group Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) had taken responsibility for the attack on Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom.

Also speaking on the African Independent Television’s News Hour on Sunday, March 21, the Governor said FUNAM have come out to take responsibility for the attack on him (Governor Ortom) while on his farm, in Benue.

This is not the first time such statements will be credited to the group. In October 2020, a similar viral claim was traced to a post by a blog, Jungle Journalist. The message was posted on Nairaland and shared on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.


In the message, the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) claimed to have been responsible for the attack meted out to #EndSARS protesters by some hoodlums in Apo District of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

In 2019, CDD conducted a fact-check exposing FUNAM as a faceless group that emerged the previous year, 2018. The group as at the time claimed to have been responsible for the crisis between farmers and herders.

While it has become clear that FUNAM does not exist, the group has been used as a weapon to stoke ethnic tensions as far back as 2018.

For instance, during the #EndSARS protest, a statement credited to FUNAM said the non-existent group claimed responsibility for the burning of vehicles in Apo area of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city on October 19, 2020.

There is no group known as FUNAM and not responsible for the attacks on #EndSARS protesters in Apo district of Abuja.

This is an attempt at stoking ethnic tensions and should be ignored.

Fact-checks for the Week

On Thursday, March 18, 2020, CDD fact-checker spotted a WhatsApp broadcast claiming that there is an ongoing distribution of Coronavirus (COVID-19) survival fund program for the second wave of the pandemic.

According to the broadcast, the program, an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria is expected to make N30,000 available to successful applicants weekly to avoid prevent a negative impact of the pandemic on the people.

The message which read: “Hurry Up And Get ₦30,000 SurvivalFund . It takes fews {sic} seconds to apply. Don’t miss this great opportunity”, also had a link attached to it.

Investigations carried out by the CDD reveal that the claim that FG is currently running a N30,000 COVID-19 fund for citizens to survive the second wave of the pandemic is false.

Checks by the CDD showed that the link provided is a bait used by fraudsters to defraud innocent Nigerians.

Read the full fact-check here

On March 15, 2021, CDD fact-checkers spotted a claim published by multiple online sources including the Punch and ABN claiming that Professor Chukwuka Okonjo, the father of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had just died.

The reports indicated that a statement issued by Dr Ngozi on behalf of the family said her father, the immediate past Obi of Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State died on March 15, 2021.

It also added that Professor Okonjo died at the age of 91 in Lagos as soon as he returned from a trip to the United States of America and Ghana.

Checks by the CDD show that the claim that Professor Chukwuka Okonjo recently passed on March 15, 2021, is misleading.

The former Obi of Ogwashi Ukwu in Delta State passed on September 13, 2019, at the age of 91 in Lagos.

An investigation by CDD also reveals that a press statement released by the late Professor’s family through Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s media adviser, Paul C. Nwabiukwu on September 13, 2019, had confirmed that he died two years ago and not 2021.

Read the full fact-check here

CDD REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS

Electoral Corruption in Nigeria: A Case Study of the 2019 General Election

CDD Activities

Three Days Monitoring and Evaluation Training For Anti-Corruption Agencies by CDD with Support by MacArthur Foundation

Who Owns £4.2 Million Ibori Loot Refund: Federal Government or Delta State?

CDD IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK

CDD: Monitoring and evaluation vital in tracking fight against corruption

We’ve Zero-Tolerance For Corruption In Cross River – Commissioner For Justice

Ekiti bye-Election: INEC asked to ban parties, candidates involved in violence

CDD Condemns Killing of Three Voters at Ekiti State Assembly Bye-Election

GEJ Foundation Calls for Elimination of Barriers to Civic Participation in Nigeria

After $25b on maintenance, FEC approves new $1.5b for PH refinery

CDD is urging Nigerians to always verify the authenticity of stories before sharing them.

You can forward suspicious messages for verification via +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa

Shin Ranar 15 ga Watan Maris, 2021 Mahaifin Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Ya Rasu?

By Fact Check

Gaskiyar Al’amari: Akwai Rudani Cikin Labarin

Tushen Magana:

A ranar 15 ga watan Maris din shekara ta 2021, masu bin didddigin labarai dan gano sahihancin su Cibiyar Bunkasa Demokaradiyya da Cigaba (CDD) sun gano wani labari da majiyoyi da Punch da ABN suka wallafa, majiyoyin sunyi ikirarin cew Farfesa Chukwuma Okonjo, wato mahaifin daraktar hukumar cinikayya ta duniya WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ya rasu.

Haka nan rahotanni sun bayyana cewa wata sanarwa da Dr. Ngozi ta fitar a madadin iyalanta  ta bayyana cewa baban ta, wadda shine mai ya rike sarautar Obi na Ogwashi-Uku na baya-bayannan a jahar Delta ya mutu ranar 15 ga watan Maris, 2021.

Sanarwar ta kara da cewa Farfesa Okonjo ya mutu yana mai shekara 91 a garin Legas jim kadan da dawowar sa daga kasashen Amurka da Ghana.

A screenshot from the published report on ABN

Gaskiyar Magana:

Binciken da CDD ta gudanar ya gano cewa labarin mutuwar Farfesa Chuwkuma Okonjo a ranar 15 ga Maris, 2021 din yana cike da rudani.

Tsohon basarake wadda ya rike mukamin Obi na Ogwashi Ukwu a jahar Delta ya mutu ne ranar 13 ga watan Satumban 2019 yana dan shekaru 91 a garin Legas.

Karin binciken da CDD ta gudanar ya gano cewa sanarwar mutuwar marigayi Farfesa Okonjo wadda mai taimakawa Dr. Okonjo-Iwela ta fannin hulda da jama’a da yada labarai, Paul C. Nwabiukwu ya sanyawa hannu a ranar 13 ga watan Satumban 2019 ta tabbatar da cewa mahaifin Iwealan ya mutu ne shekaru biyu da suka gabata, ba cikin shekarar 2021 ba.

CDD ta gano cewa lokacin da mahaifin Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ya rasu ba a nada mukamin daraktar hukumar cinikayya ta duniya ba.

Kammalawa:

Binciken CDD ya gano cewa labarin da kafafen yada labarai suka rawaito cewa Farfesa Chukwuma Okonjo, wato mahaifin Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ya mutu ranar 15 ga Maris din 2021 yana cike da rudani.

Mahaifin Dr. Ngozin ya mutu ne ranar 13 ga watan Satumban 2019 ba ranar 15 ga watan Maris din 2021 ba kamar yadda majiyoyi da dama suka rawaito.

Kuna iya aikowa CDD labaran da kuke da shakku akansu da gano muku gaskiyar su. Za ku iya turo gajeren sako (SMS) ta manhajar WhastApp akan lamba: +2349062910568 ko ku tuntube mu a shafin Twitter a @CDDWestAfrica.

#AgujiYadaLabaranBogi

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa

Why Do You Need to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine?

By Fact Check

On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, Nigeria received the first batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines through the  COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) vaccine facility, the global sharing program designed to give countries equal access to vaccines and other tools.

After verification and certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC), President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice Yemi Osinbajo were among the early receivers of the vaccine. The President and his Vice assured Nigerians of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy as photographs of the duo surfaced online.

However, many Nigerians have raised concerns about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and other vaccines generally. So, here are important facts you should know about.

Who Produced the Vaccine

The brand of vaccine purchased by the Nigerian government was developed by British firm AstraZeneca, working in partnership with Oxford University. It is however manufactured under license by the Serum Institute in India. It is the second to be approved by the Independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

How safe is the vaccine?

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been revalidated by the NAFDAC as safe for use in Nigeria.

The agency in a press statement signed by its Director-General, Professor Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye said the active substance in the vaccine is manufactured and controlled by Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL).

Adeyeye said a GMP certificate and manufacturing license issued by the India National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has been presented and found to be authentic and valid.

“From the Phases 2/3 conducted, COVISHIELD was found safe and well-tolerated in adults above 18 years of age. The incidence of solicited, unsolicited AEs and SAEs was comparable in the study control. groups. No causally related SAE was caused by the study vaccine.” Adeyeye said.

However, an advisory by the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Says “As with any vaccine, COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca may not protect everyone who is vaccinated from COVID-19. It is not yet known how long people who receive the vaccine will be protected. No data are currently available in individuals with a weakened immune system or who are taking chronic treatment that suppresses or prevents immune responses.”

So, you are advised to still adhere to the safety precautions until available data shows that is safe not to.

Why Do You Need to Take the Vaccine?

Based on available scientific data and knowledge about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you safe from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

In the past, vaccines have been known to protect humans against infectious diseases like Smallpox, Polio among others.

For instance, Smallpox which claimed approximately 300 million lives in the 20th century alone, has been fully eradicated thanks to the development and implementation of safe and effective vaccines.

It Relieves the Pressure on Healthcare workers

Being vaccinated means you are most unlikely to contract the infectious diseases you are vaccinated against. This lessens the pressure on health workers and in turn the system. In this instance, the health workers have ample time to dedicate their efforts to service while funds and equipment are channeled to helping patients. Taking a COVID-19 vaccine will help in the same way – freeing up resources by lowering case numbers and preventing further backlogs of other treatments.

To Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Research has shown that fake news spreads much faster and farther than facts. Over the last few decades, conspiracy theories and misinformation have eroded public trust in vaccines, leading to the re-emergence of nearly eradicated diseases in many countries. This may become the case with COVID-19 if people don’t follow evidence-based guidance from the scientific and medical community.

When we follow the facts, we are not only protecting ourselves and our loved ones from infectious diseases but also setting an example that helps fight back against the diffusion of misinformation.

FACT-CHECK

On March 2, 2021, a Facebook user Amanda Chisom shared a picture of cattle eating a heap of tomatoes by a roadside.

The post created the impression that it was from Northern Nigeria as a result of the ongoing food blockade from the north to the south in Nigeria.  Several social media users have also shared the image to create the impression that the event happened in Nigeria, an aftermath of the food blockade by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN).

Shared on Twitter by Spartan – El Pluribus Unum! (@Osegun_MG), the image was also posted by Reno Omokri, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, and on Nairaland.

The image showing cattle eating tomatoes heaped by the roadside is not from Nigeria but India. It was first shared online by the fake page Funny India on July 30, 2017.

On January 9, 2021, a Twitter page @Rukhsar428 shared the image alongside another image of a cow in a tweet, stating that his government’s policies have become hostile to the nation’s economy.

In January this year, the image was used by several Twitter users as part of a social media campaign in India calling for the ban on the importation of tomatoes into the country using the hashtag #StopImportTomatoAndOnion.

Read the full fact-check here

On March 5, 2021, multiple online platforms posted a video online with the claim ‘’Nigerian youths block Abuja Airport road, at Dantata bridge, stops international flight passengers and brings the city to stand still.’’

The video was also shared via WhatsApp with the claim “Another episode of Lekki Toll Gate, repeating itself in Abuja. GOD, PLEASE HELP THIS COUNTRY!”

The video which was also posted on popular discussion forum Nairaland was accompanied with the claim “Some youths have taken laws into their own hands at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday night grounding all activities along the popular Dantata Bridge in Abuja. The popular Bridge was said to have been blocked by the irate youths who are protesting against bad governance under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

Checks by fact-checkers at the CDD show that the video is five months old and was recorded on October 16, 2020, #EndSARS protest against Police brutality in Nigeria.

The protesters had blocked the Abuja Airport Road, which links the city centre to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The road is also a major gateway to Abuja from neighbouring states of Kogi, Niger and Kaduna and the city’s outskirts. The protest was reported by Premium TimesIndependent Newspaper and the Tribune

Furthers checks by the CDD showed that there was indeed a protest in Abuja on March 4, 2021, by some individuals calling for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Read the full fact-check here

CDD REPORTS FOR THE WEEK

Key findings in a new report by the CDD and Tactical Tech show that personal data is becoming increasingly important in Nigerian political campaigning. The report which examines how personal data has featured in Nigeria’s political campaign history also sheds light on the wider digital and data-driven political influence industry in Nigeria.

It also looks at the digital tools and practices political agents employ during elections and what future trends and developments are likely to emerge.

Read report here

CDD in the media

CDD: Pampering bandits will make things worse

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has accused governments at various levels of pampering bandits, a measure it said will lead to more “heinous crimes”.

The Centre also said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has “failed woefully” in efforts to address Nigeria’s security challenges.

Read more

How Buhari can end mass kidnapping of students – CDD

In the wake of the release of the 317 abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, the CDD  urged the Nigerian government to implement a holistic security approach to protect the rights of children.

This followed the release of the abducted female students of the Government Girls Secondary School Jengebe in Zamfara state. There has been similar mass kidnap of students in states such as Katsina, Niger, Borno, and Yobe State.

The Centre also called on the country’s government to prevent repeated incidents.

Read more

DOWNLOAD NEWSLETTER HERE

NEWSLETTER FROM CDD FOR WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 12, 2020

By Fact Check

As we continue to work towards countering disinformation and misinformation usually spread across various platforms – online and offline – the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) believes that there is now need more than ever to find a lasting solution to the risk posed by false information and narratives. One thing that must be taken into cognizance is the fact that our collective effort is needed – everyone one of us; the people media organisations, civil society and the government at every level – to curb disinformation.

We must come to the realisation that we owe ourselves, as a duty, to ensure that the media space is devoid of claims and narratives that could cause harm, mislead people or endanger the lives of others. It is for this reason we have consistently called on both citizens and state actors to be cautious in the dissemination of information.

While at this, it is important to note that governments around the world have now moved governance to the digital space in other to keep in touch with the ever-growing online population and for the reach and convenience online spaces provide.

However, some government officials and influential individuals engage in the proliferation of misinformation on the digital space to a large audience to suit their political agenda and other motives.

This week, the CDD spotted a claim on the Twitter page of the President of Nigeria, @Mbuhari which claimed that the coverage of #EndSARS protest by foreign media was not balanced.

The President in his tweet claimed that the CNN and BBC did not give attention to the Police officers who were killed, the stations that were burnt, and prisons invaded by some hoodlums across the country during the protest.

As at the time of publishing our fact-check, the President’s tweet had been retweeted by 6700 Twitter users and liked by 9100 times. Multiple media houses including national dailies reported the content of the tweet.

In a swift reaction to the tweet, the Presidential Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, acknowledged the claim made by President Buhari.

Checks by the CDD showed that the claim is false.

On Friday, December 11, 2020, fact-checkers at CDD spotted a claim on ireporteronline that the Federal Government has directed the preparation of the reopening of isolation centres across Nigeria following a perceived second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The headline of the report read that: “FG directs COVID-19 isolation centres to prepare for reopening”

Investigations carried out by CDD fact-checkers show that indeed the Federal Government announced the re-opening of COVID-19 isolation centres in the country.

In a statement issued by the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force during a press briefing on Thursday, December 10, FG explained that some isolation centres were closed due to the low turnout of COVID-19 patients/cases.

The COVID-19 PTF said that with the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country isolation centres will be re-opening.

Also speaking at the briefing, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, directed all health workers across the country to be on red alert following the surge in the number of COVID-19 infection.

Also within the week, fact-checkers and volunteers at the Centre spotted a screenshot of a tweet claimed to be from popular Nigerian Journalist Kiki Mordi on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The tweet read claimed that Mordi said that there is nothing wrong with a lady’s decision to abort her baby if she finds out it’s male.

“I for none would prefer a female child to a male one so it is well justified and within my rights to abort a baby for the sole reason of being male,” Mordi said.

The screenshot was shared widely on Twitter and later found its way to Facebook with many people condemning the journalist.

Fact-checkers at the CDD analyzed the tweet and found it to be fake. Our findings show that the tweet was created using an online app, Fake Tweet generator.

The CDD also reached out to Mordi who debunked the tweet saying its fake. Also, a review of her Twitter handle, @kikimordi, by CDD showed that the tweet allegedly made on November 27, 2020, could not be found.

Also, a search for residues of the purported tweet yielded no result as there were no reactions, comments or even impression to show that she made the said tweet. 

Some other fact-checks produced by the CDD are:

FACT-CHECK: Kano APC Chairman Has Not Been Sacked By Party

FACT-CHECK: CBN, FG Not Allocating Grants worth N650,000 To Nigerians

FACT-CHECK: Black Friday Deal Is Not “Anti-Holy Friday”

FACT-CHECK: Is FG Allocating Money To Nigerian Youths?

Other News from the Centre for Democracy and Development 

In the past week, the CDD in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Kaduna State Peace Commission (KSPC) organised a stakeholders’ meeting on farmer-herder relations and banditry in Kaduna State.

At the meeting, stakeholders raised various issues including the use of minors by cattle owners as herders, the importance of ranching policies in quelling the crisis between farmers and herders and the need for the media to be involved in peacebuilding across states in Nigeria.

We Need Ranching Policies For Herders To Adopt – Farmers’ Association

Newsletter for the Week Ending November 22, 2020

By Fact Check

As we continue to mitigate the spread of disinformation and misinformation in West Africa through a robust fact-checking exercise, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in the past week took a big step to engage the media practitioners as fact-checkers in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

To curtail the rising tide of false information, hate speeches that were characterising political campaigns in Burkina Faso, CDD trained journalists, bloggers and other media practitioners on spotting fake news, measures to take in countering disinformation, and the dissemination of countered false claims.

Interestingly, at the training, participants resolved to use social media to effectively fact-check and counter false narratives used to misinform the populace.

While receiving their certificates, the participants further resolved to use social media for social good and behavioural change among various target groups, including youths who are easily swayed by some of these narratives.

Throughout the training and the election process, the team monitored electoral information in the media and social networks and identified over 200 websites and social media accounts used by influencers and political actors and their supporters for the election. Also, about 30 local radio and television stations were identified.

Following the training, the CDD launched its Analysis Centre at the Splendid Hotel in Ouaga, Burkina Faso on Friday, November 20, 2020, in partnership with CODEL.

At the Centre, the CDD released a statement on the presidential election process in Burkina Faso. The Centre observed that there where are fears of the widespread inability of accessing polling stations due to the presence of extremist groups that have disrupted voter registration in many parts of the country.

Internet penetration in the country remains low, however, it remains an extensive source of misinformation and disinformation. As the globe continues to battle a global pandemic, online sources have been awash with information either proffering cures, both in French and in local languages.

The CDD also developed a strategy allowing the Centre to adequately observe the information ecosystem and assess both the levels of disinformation, but also the effect.

The methodology adopted, based on our continued work in the field of countering fake news and disinformation will make it possible to actively monitor sources of information on online platforms that are false, correcting those false narratives and shortcomings throughout the voting.

The Centre during this period discovered that much of disinformation was being shared in regards to the election process.

For instance, while the election was still going on, there were claims that a candidate, Zephirin Diabre, declared that the Minister of Defence had proceeded to suppress citizens from exercising their civic rights in Oudalan.

According to the claim, the minister was able to suppress the voters because the opposition had a strong influence in the area.

However, after investigations by the fact-checkers, and a follow-up by CODEL observers on the ground, it was discovered that the Minister of Defence did not embark on such a decision.

Other fact-checks produced by the CDD this week include:

Seriake Dickson Not Disqualified by an Abuja High Court For Certificate Forgery

A WhatsApp message shared widely in groups and on Facebook was spotted on November 13, 2020, claimed that the Federal High Court in Abuja had disqualified Seriake Dickson, from contesting the Bayelsa West Senatorial District election over certificate forgery.

Seriake Dickson is the immediate past Governor of Bayelsa state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the forthcoming bye-election.

Our fact-check revealed that the former governor of Bayelsa State is still in the race for Bayelsa West Senatorial District seat.

Dickson was not disqualified for forgery as claimed by the widely shared WhatsApp message.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Shot by Cultists is Alive

On Saturday, November 14, 2020, The Nation Newspaper reported that an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in Edo State, Agabi Godiri,  had died from bullet injury sustained while he engaged in a shootout with cultists in the state.

The report published on The Nation said the ACP, who is in charge of the Area Command in the state capital died on Friday, November 13, 2020, at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

According to the report, the death of the ACP was confirmed in confidence on Saturday evening by a senior police officer of Edo command via a telephone conversation.

Checks by the Centre revealed that the claim that ACP Godiri died after sustaining bullet injury from a gun battle with cultists in Beinin City is false.

More importantly, it is noteworthy to state that internet scams have continued to take the centre stage of the ecosystem.

On WhatsApp, people unknowingly distributed these claims by online fraudsters to the friends and associates for them to apply. These claim in form of broadcast/ messages claim to have means of increasing wealth of those who make payments after filling forms made available – usually through links.

The Centre’s analysis also shows that the online fraudsters have continued to modify these messages to fit into the needs of most unemployed youths for fall prey to their gimmicks.

Some of the online scams usually shared by fraudsters and countered by CDD include:

COVID-19: Widespread ‘FG’s Relief Collation Form’ is a Scam

FACT-CHECK: FG Not Giving Out N3 Million Grant To Nigerians

FACT-CHECK: Can You Invest N25k and Get N50k Instantly Using winners Pay Investment Platform?

COVID-19: No, Former President Obasanjo never sent N5,000 to all Nigerians

CDD urges citizens particularly media organizations to fact check reports, from multiple sources, before breaking the news to the public.

Information Influence: Disinformation During Edo's 2020 Gubernatorial Election

By Publications

Located at the centre of southern Nigeria, in the south-south geopolitical zone, Edo state was created in 1991 but it was not until 1999 that its first democratically elected leader – Chief Lucky Igbinedion of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – was elected to power.

PDP ruled the state for nine years before a court order invalided Professor Osunbor’s election in 2007 and Adams Oshiomole won the 2008 re-run on the Action Congress (AC) ticket which merged into the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2013.


Oshiomole was the Governor until 2016 and remains involved and influential in Edo politics to this day. But twelve years on from losing power in the state, the PDP has been emboldened by the recent defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the APC following a well-publicised
falling-out with Oshiomole in 2019.

This marriage of convenience between Obaseki and the PDP, who would relish the chance to come back to power and regain parity with the rest of the south-south states, presents a very interesting dynamic for Septembers gubernatorial election which pits the current governor against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyeamu of the APC.

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE

Dissecting Disinformation in Nigeria: An Overview of CDD's Work So Far

By Publications

With many of the world’s populations in lockdown, or living with restricted
freedom of movement, it is a good time to reflect on the present, evaluate the past, and look towards the future.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is taking time to reflect on its journey in fighting disinformation by looking at some of our key work in this area, and meditating on both the current state of affairs, and where to go next.


Disinformation is a relatively new term, but it refers to a practice as old as time. The dissemination of false information through modern channels using the internet is what marks out the disinformation of today. CDD began working on countering disinformation five years ago.

Our first foray was through the Buharimeter, a platform that was designed to measure accountability by tracking the (in)congruence between Nigerian President Buhari’s campaign promises and actions in office.

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE

FACT-CHECK NEWSLETTER FOR THE WEEK ENDING August 22, 2020

By Fact CheckNo Comments

It is a fact that fake news spreads faster than the truth on social media all over the world. 

Unfortunately, those who are in the business of generating fake news are trying out all forms of advanced approaches, making distinguishing real from false information difficult than ever.

Viral investment scams, fake videos and pictures and satirical contents containing misleading information are some of the new ways creators of disinformation thrive in the ecosystem. 

From calls for investment in money doubling scam to a claim on Myafricatoday that the World Health Organization sent a message to the world on a Coronavirus vaccine, some of the disinformation countered this week are:

FACT-CHECK: Can You Investment N25k and Get N50k Instantly Using winners Pay Investment Platform?

On Monday, August 17, 2020, fact-checkers at Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted on a Facebook post claiming that an investor can win N50,000 instantly from N25,000 investment.

The post which claimed the investment is an easy one said the 100 per cent benefit of investment can be received in less than one hour after payment is made.

According to the poster, the investment is legit as an investor can invest any amount of money and immediately get double the amount within 45 minutes.

The message read in part: “ I have just been credited from this platform. I invested 25k, I was paid 50,000 in not less than 45min. So I decided to share with you to join the platform and testify too. VIEW THE LINK BELOW

https://chat.whatsapp.com/Gnk0hbzwbd4GNdMAINjjQX  Contact the admin directly (09037026019) for more information.

However, investigations done by fact-checkers show that the message is an online scam as the evidence provided is very suspicious.

Checks by the CDD revealed that the mobile number of the “admin” as indicated in the message is registered as Anthony Joshua.

Further checks by the centre show that the investment company have continued to pressure their clients to make payments for the deal with a promise of the 100 per cent return in less than one hour.

Read the full report here

FACT-CHECK: No, WHO Did Not Send Message on COVID-19 Vaccine

On August 20, 2020, fact-checkers at CDD came across an article published on Myafricatoday claiming that the World Health Organization sent an important message to the world on a Coronavirus vaccine. 

The report headlined “Breaking-news world health organization sends important message to the world on coronavirus vaccines”, said WHO’s Secretary-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has revisited research on COVID-19 vaccine and its accessibility to the world.

According to the blog, WHO is working closely with various sectors and governments to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccine for all.

The report said WHO’s decision comes at a time when some countries are opting to sell the vaccine, when available, at a high fee to nations vulnerable to the pandemic.

WHO did not send messages to “the world” or leaders of countries regarding COVID-19 vaccine or its availability.

A review of the report by the blog also shows that no part of the content had the message purportedly sent to the world leaders by the WHO.

Also, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, Dr Ghebreyesus at the WHO’s briefing on COVID-19, discussed challenges of logistics involved in combatting the pandemic.

Ghebreyesus in his statement highlighted numerous logistic failures in the initial response to the disease.

He said: “Supply nationalism exacerbated the pandemic and contributed to the total failure of the global supply chain.” 

Dr Ghebreyesus said this led to the lack of key supplies for dealing with the novel coronavirus in several nations. 

The claim that WHO sent messages to the world and leaders of nations on a vaccine or its accessibility is false.

Read full report here

FACT-CHECK: Kano Governor Ganduje Did Not Sack Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs

On August 18, 2020, fact-checkers at the CDD spotted a letter circulating widely on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, particularly on groups largely dominated by Kano citizens.

The letter, supposedly from the Office of the Executive Governor of Kano state, dated August 18, 2020 and signed by Salihu Tanko Yakasai, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor, claimed the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state, Murtala Sule Garo, has been sacked. 

Part of the letter read: “His Excellency the Governor of Kano State Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR has approved the relieve of appointment of the appointment of Hon. Murtala Sule Garo as the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development of Kano State with effect from today, Tuesday 18th of August, 2020.”

“Accordingly, he is required to hand over all government property in his possession to the Permanent Secretary and Cabinet Affairs in the Office immediately,” the letter added.

Fact checks by CDD show that no press release or letter was issued by the Kano State Government or the SSA on Media to Governor Ganduje on the sack of Garo. 

When reached,  Yakasai confirmed that the letter announcing the sack of Garo is fake.

“I didn’t sign any letter sacking the Commissioner; therefore, the letter in circulation saying the Commissioner is sacked is fake,” Yakassai said.

He debunked the claim that Garo had been sacked by the Governor nor that he (Yakasai) signed the letter announcing purported sack.

Read full report here

FACT-CHECK: Can Fake Voters’ Card be used in Edo State Governorship Election?

On August 18, 2020, a report by multiple online platforms, including The Nigeran Post, which was attributed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is printing fake Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) ahead of the Edo Governorship election.

The headline, “Edo 2020: APC Printing Fake Voters Cards, PDP alleges,” the report said the PDP accused the APC of involving in such activity because the party realised it would not win the election. The PDP further alleged that the Fake PVCs are intended to be used by the APC to rig the poll.

Checks by fact-checkers at the CDD show that Only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) produce Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) that can be used in any Nigeria election. In the past, INEC had clarified such claim, the Election Management Body on countless occasions, clarified that the PVC is coded to designated polling units and configured to specific and unique Smart Card Reader with robust security features. 

It is important to note that this is not the first time Nigerian politicians will raise and make such a false claim. During the 2019 general elections, INEC National Commissioner in charge of publicity, Barrister Festus Okoye, while reacting to allegations of the use of cloned PVC said such claim is only a ploy by politicians to pressure the Commission into disclosing the kind of security the Smart Card Reader possesses.

As stated in the INEC election guideline, the Smart Card Reader is used before voter’s accreditation to validate and authenticate the identity of the voter by cross-matching their fingerprints with data already stored in an embedded chip. Evidence suggests that the use of the Smart Card Reader has enhanced electoral integrity in Nigeria. The PVC is not transferrable, and any PVC not issued by INEC cannot be validated and authenticated for the purpose of voting in Nigeria elections, including in the Edo State governorship poll, scheduled to hold on September 19, 2020.

The claim by the PDP and reported on several media outlets that fake/cloned PVC will be used to rig the Edo state election is not correlated with the guideline released by INEC and therefore cannot be substantiated.

CDD can authoritatively confirm that any PVC not issued by INEC will not authenticate and/or be used for voting during the Edo 2020 election. 

Read full report here

CDD is urging members of the public to read beyond headlines before sharing any news report. 

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica.

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation

DOWNLOAD NEWSLETTER HERE

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa

Nigeria’s First Female Engineer Never said FG is Hiding Facts About COVID-19 from Citizens

By Fact CheckNo Comments

VERDICT: False

CLAIM: A widely circulated WhatsApp broadcast has accused the Nigerian government of, amongst others, hiding vital facts about the Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

 The broadcast is credited to Nigeria’s first female chartered engineer, Mrs. Olu Maduka.

Among many claims credited to Mrs Maduka is that several COVID-19 patients are on life support, including a one-month-old baby that is struggling to breathe.

In the message, Mrs Maduka is alleged to have noted that the case of the one-month-old baby made her cry.

The viral message also alleged that the figures announced by the Nigerian government are about 10% of the actual number of confirmed COVID-19 cases announced to the public.

It also claimed that the Nigerian Engineer saw eight corpses within one-hour of her visit to the Mainland Hospital in Lagos.

FACT

In the one-minute and thirty seconds video sent in and reviewed by fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development, the engineer debunked the WhatsApp broadcast.

According to her, she was indoors even before the lockdown was announced and has not gone out in about four weeks, let alone visit the Mainland Hospital in Lagos.

She said in the video: “I wish to state emphatically that I did not write the article being circulated widely under my name as I have not visited any isolation centre either on the mainland or anywhere else. I have been home for about four weeks.”

“Even before the state official lockdown because at my age I belong to the high-risk group. So, there is no way I would have visited an Isolation Centre either on the mainland anywhere else,” the Engineer added.

She also urged members of the public to use social media responsibly and desist from abusing the platforms which can also serve educational purposes.

Lagos state has recorded 931 COVID-19 positive cases – the highest of all states across the country – since the confirmation of Nigeria’s index case in February.

The governor of the state , Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has held regular updates to intimate members of the public on the progress made so far by his administration to curb the spread of the virus in the state.

CONCLUSION

Mrs Maduka, who was conferred with the National Honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2008, did not send the WhatsApp broadcast. She was also never at the Mainland Hospital in Lagos as claimed in the message.

She did not write an article accusing the Nigerian government of concealing the true state of the fight against Coronavirus as being widely circulated in the WhatsApp broadcast.

The CDD urges members of the public to disregard such information and refrain from spreading any form of disinformation across the social media platform.

COVID-19: Ministry of Education Never Said Schools Will Reopen in November 2020

By Fact CheckNo Comments

CLAIM: On April 22, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a press release stating that the Ministry of Education has ordered the closure of schools nationwide until November 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The viral press statement dated April 21, 2020, was credited to the Ministry and had what appeared to be the signature of the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu.

VERDICT: False

FACT:

On March 19, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered the closure of schools across Nigeria following the confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the country.

A review of the Ministry’s website by CDD fact-checkers shows that the Ministry published no press release confirming the said directive.

The press release stated that Mr Sunny Echono, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, confirmed the November reopening to Premium Times, an online Nigerian newspaper. The newspaper’s Managing Editor, Idris Akinbajo, told CDD fact-checkers that the statement is the handiwork of some mischief-makers.

Mr Akinbajo said: “Obviously, what they did is that they took a story which we published late last year, [and] manipulated it to drive their mischief.”

Further proof that this is a doctored statement lies in the fact that a government ministry has never quoted a newspaper in such manner in its press release.

Also, the statement is alleged to have been signed by Adamu Mallam. The Minister’s real name is Adamu Adamu.

During a press conference on the April 21, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said the Ministry is yet to arrive at a definite date for schools to reopen.

“As soon as we arrive at a definite time, we will communicate that. We will also be looking at what we will do for schools to reopen. As you will recall, we asked that schools vacate in the late part of March as soon as this broke,” Nwajuba said.

He added that the reopening of schools across the nation would be a coordinated effort among all the states as the lockdown will affect how students are expected to attend classes and how the teachers will resume work.

“So, it goes with that saying that nobody can reopen schools now except we coordinate all of that effort,” he said.

Finally, in a statement refuting the claim, Ben Gong, the director of media in the Ministry, said the purported press release is a clear case of forgery.

CONCLUSION

The claim that the Federal Ministry of Education sent out a press statement stating that schools in Nigeria will reopen in November 2020 is false.

CDD urges parents, students, and the general public to disregard the fake release.

Did Vladimir Putin say Africa is a cemetery?

By Fact Check, NewsNo Comments

Verdict: False

Claim: Multiple websites and blogs have been circulating a story of the Russian President, where he is alleged to say that when Africans get rich, their bank accounts are in Switzerland, they go to France for medical treatment and so on. The story goes on to say that Africa is a cemetery for Africans, and finishes with the question, “how can a cemetery be developed?”. The story was shared with a cropped image from an Instagram account with the name – Al Jazeera West Africa.

Fact: CDD fact-checkers reviewed the claimed using fact checking tools, including google search and found that there is no such Instagram account.  In addition, Fact checkers reviewed Vladimir Putin’s online presence. The story was traced back to a post that was published on the popular Nigerian online forum – Nairaland. This story has no basis in fact and is written purely with the intent to disinform and misinform Nigerians and indeed Africans.

Conclusion: This claim is False, as all effort to find source of information proof abortive.

Is the Kaduna State Religious Preaching (Regulation) Law of 2019 meant to frustrate Christians?

By Fact Check, NewsNo Comments

Verdict: False

Claim: Several online blogs have claimed that the Kaduna State Religious Preaching (Regulation) Law 2019 is specifically enacted to target Christians in the state, and some have accused El-Rufai of abolishing vigils, and other Christian observances. “It is designed to frustrate the Christians from celebrating Christmas, Easter and other vigils in the state. It is obnoxious and criminalises any person who plays religious cassette or uses a loud speaker for religious purposes between the hours of 11pm and 4am”.

Facts: On June 7, the Kaduna State House of Assembly passed the law entitled, “Kaduna State Religious Preaching (Regulation) Law, 2019”. The bill for this law was actually presented to the house as far back as 2016, but suffered setbacks due to criticisms from both Muslims and Christians. Since 1980, Kaduna State has experienced a very high number of incidents of ethno-religious violence, often with tragic consequences. This new law has been established to regulate religious preaching in the interest of public safety by reducing the possible use of religion for incitement. Kaduna State has historically paid a heavy price for religious violence, this law is an attempt to curb that violence, and it does not target any one religion.

Conclusion: This claim is false as the law is not seeking to abolish, stop or prevent the freedom of religion or religious beliefs, as that would be unconstitutional under section 38 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which protects every individual’s right to freedom of religion and observation of religion. etc