A verified X user, Jackson Ude (@jacksonpbn), has claimed that all the five judges of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal that participated at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, have been flown to Paris, France allegedly ‘to pick up bribe.’
The claim was shared following the judgement delivered by the PEPC after several months of sitting of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) in Abuja.
The two major contenders in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election in the nation, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had challenged the election results which saw Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged winner of the election.
The PEPC had ruled that the petitions filed by Atiku and Obi and their parties have no merit and unanimously upheld Tinubu’s victory at the election.
However, Ude had on September 7, 2023 posted the claim with a caption that reads:
“ALL PEPT JUDGES NOW IN PARIS TO PICK UP BRIBE MONEY
All the five Justices of the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal who affirmed the INEC selection of Bola Tinubu as President were immediately flown out of Nigeria via a Private Jet yesterday for Paris, France. The Judges, Haruna Tsammani, Stephen Adah, Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf, Boloukuoromo Ugoh, Abba Mohammed, are all in Paris to pick up their bribe money, a Judge who does not want to be named told me.
The rogue Judges were promised $5million each while Haruna Tsammani who is the head of the panel gets $7million, according to the informant.”
The post has garnered more than 160,000 views ,over 1,500 reposts and almost 2,000 likes as of Sunday, September 10, 2023.
Five judges of the PEPC that affirmed Tinubu’s victory at the presidential election have been flown to Paris ‘to pick up bribe’.
Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is UNPROVEN.
On Wednesday, the five-member panel took turns to dismiss the petitions filed by Atiku, Obi and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) against the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 1, 2023.
The judgement was delivered by the Chairman of the PEPC, Haruna Tsammani, assisted by other members of the panel, namely: Justices Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo and Abba Mohammed.
Analysis of Jackson Ude’s X account shows that the user who is a Labour Party supporter has been posting unverified information to discredit the Nigerian judiciary and judges handling the presidential petition before and after the judgement.
Checks show that the X user did not attach any photograph or any other multimedia evidence to back up his claim, neither did he state the source of its information.
The FactCheckHub found out that the news was not reported by any credible media platform in the country, as at the time of filing this report.
Although the Federal High Court had in June 2023 announced its annual judges’ vacation period which runs from from 24 July to 15 September 2023, there is no media report concerning vacation for Court of Appeal judges.
When contacted, the chief registrar of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, Umar M. Bangari Esq., debunked the viral claim, describing it as baseless and childish.
He questioned the assumption that judges would collect bribes during their vacation, pointing out that it’s in their normal schedule to embark on vacations just like the way senators also go on vacation without such accusations.
“You know we are in the era of social media. But all of us are educated. Let me deny this as I speak to you. But you know the court of appeal is on vacation now, what if any of the panel or all of them decides that they are going on vacation? Does it mean they are going to collect bribes?
“All the senators and house of representatives members that have gone on vacation, where did they go and collect their own bribes? Why do we behave as if judges are in the moon unlike the rest of us? If after Wednesday, they decided to go on vacation, are they not going to go because someone will say they want to collect bribes? Even if they want to collect a bribe, must they go out (outside country) to collect it?” Bangari told The FactCheckHub.
He said the false allegations are being peddled by people who were heartbroken by the judgement of the court to discredit the Nigerian judiciary and judges.
It will be recalled that this is not the first time fake news merchants have targeted the Nigerian judiciary over the election petitions.
The BBC News Pidgin had also on September 6, 2023 reported about several misinformation targeted at the PEPC judges.
Also, The FactCheckHub cannot independently verify the allegation that they went ‘to pick up bribe’.
The claim that the five judges of the PEPC that affirmed Tinubu’s victory at the presidential election have been flown to Paris ‘to pick up bribe’ is UNPROVEN; As at the time of filing this report, neither the judges’ whereabouts after September 6 could be independently verified, nor the allegation that they went ‘to pick up bribe’.
Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.