LIVE-CHECK: Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential and National Assembly ElectionsBy FactCheckHub on February 25, 2023
As Nigerians head to the poll on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, the Nigerian Fact-checkers’ Coalition (NFC) brings you live-check of election-related misinformation and disinformation spreading online and on television on Election Day.
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Eighteen candidates are seeking to succeed the nation’s current president, Muhammadu Buhari, through the ballot. Those cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) include Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP); Osita Nnadi of the Action Peoples Party (APP); Abiola Kolawole of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP); Yabagi Sani of the Action Democratic Party (ADP); and Ado-Ibrahim Abdulmalik of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
Others are: Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC); Ojei Chichi of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Peter Umeadi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Oluwafemi Adenuga of the Boot Party (BP); Daniel Nwanyanwu of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); Dumebi Kachikwu of the African Democratic Congress (ADC); Hamza Al-Mustapha of the Action Alliance (AA); Adebayo Adewole of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); Okwudili Anyajike of the National Rescue Movement (NRM); and Christopher Imumolen of the Accord Party (AP).
Similarly, 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 federal legislative positions were earlier cleared by the INEC for the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections holding today.
Our team of researchers, fact-checkers, social media monitors, editors, misinformation & disinformation experts drawn from the coalition partners, are working from the coalition’s Election Situation Rooms located in Abuja, Lagos and UK, to debunk misinformation and disinformation contents targeted at inciting violence and voter’s apathy on Election Day or influencing the outcome of election.
Here are the live-checks:
CLAIM: The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has withdrawn from the race and has asked his supporters to vote for Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
THE FINDINGS: The chief spokesperson of the Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Dr Yunusa Tanko, has debunked the viral claim in a press conference. He said Obi is still in the race. Also, a search on the official Twitter handle of the LP presidential candidate showed he is still contesting as he urged his supporters to cast their votes in his favour.
SOURCE: Dr. Yunusa Tanko
CLAIM: Some social media users claim the Boko Haram terrorist group has taken over INEC offices in Kaduna and Kano states.
THE FINDINGS: The images attached to the posts are old and are from unrelated incidents in the past. One of them is as old as 2016. The spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mohammed Jalige, debunked the report noting that the INEC office has not been, and was not under any form of attack. Also, the Kano state police spokesperson, Haruna Abdulahi said it is a fake report.
SOURCES: Kano State Police Command, Kaduna State Police Command.
CLAIM: Twitter users claim the Accord party has merged with Labour Party (LP).
THE FINDINGS: The National Chairman of the Accord Party, Reverend Issac Adeniyi, confirmed to the Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition (NFC) that the party has merged with Labour Party and has declared its support for the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
SOURCE: Accord Party’s national chairman.
CLAIM: A viral SMS claims voters can locate their polling units by sending their PVC 9-digit codes to 8014.
THE FINDINGS: Our findings show this to be false. The Commissioner for Information and Voter Education at INEC, Festus Okoye, has also clarified that the alleged code is not from the Commission. He advised voters to stick to the official contact information released by the INEC.
SOURCE: Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
CLAIM: A viral audio clip purports the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, his running mate Ifeanyi Okowa, and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, are plotting to rig the general election.
THE FINDINGS: An analysis of the audio note shows that the voices of the trio were cut from previously recorded speeches and joined to create the recording of the conversation. The audio has been doctored, hence it is fake.
CLAIM: A graphic circulating on election morning claims the People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has withdrawn from the presidential race and declared his support for Labour Party’s candidate, Peter Obi.
THE FINDING: The claim is not supported by any evidence. Such a major development would have been widely reported by local and international media, but credible media has reported such. Abubakar voted in his home state, Adamawa, north-east Nigeria at about 9am and told journalists he is confident of winning the election. In a phone call, Paul Ibe, Atiku’s media aide, also debunked the claim.
SOURCES: Multiple news sources, Atiku’s media aide.
CLAIM: A Twitter user, (@Naija_PR) claims the Labour Party (LP) logo is missing on the ballot papers sent to Ondo State.
THE FINDINGS: The pictures of the alleged ballot papers the claimant shared were from 2015. However, a report published by Punch Newspaper confirmed the omission of the LP logo on ballot papers sent to Ondo State to be true but only affected that of the Senate and House of Representatives.
VERDICT: MOSTLY CORRECT
SOURCE: Punch Newspaper
CLAIM: A blog site, litepawa.org published a report on how Ganduje’s supporters attacked the supporters of Kwankwaso in Kano State.
THE FINDINGS: Aside from the fact that the blog site lacks all the qualities of a reliable news organization, like an about us page or contact us, the link to the alleged video that depicts the bloody clash was merely a link to an advert. Additionally, there is no report elsewhere that hints on the acclaimed bloody clash in Kano.
CLAIM: Katsina State Police Command arrested party agents for attempting to hack into INEC server
THE FINDINGS: The spokesperson of Katsina Police Command, Gambo Isah, when contacted, confirmed the arrest of some party agents. He, however, stated that after an in-depth investigation, it was discovered that the intention of the political party involved was to set up a situation room, using an application software and not to hack INEC servers. He also confirmed the same in a press release.
SOURCE: Katsina State Police Command.
CLAIM: Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the Labour Party governorship candidate in Lagos State, said over six million new permanent voter cards were collected in the state.
THE FINDINGS: Voter card collection data published by the Independent National Electoral Commission shows this is incorrect. INEC’s data released on February 23, 2023, shows the total number of previously and newly collected voter cards in Lagos is 6.2 million. If Mr Rhodes-Vivour had referred to both old and new, he would have been correct.
CLAIM: A video showing electoral violence in Nigeria’s 2023 elections has gone viral on social media.
THE FINDINGS: The video was shot in Ghana during a military drill ahead of the country’s 2020 general election. The latest version of the video the NFC found on social media was dated December 2020. It was also found here. A Ghana-based news outlet, Thedistin, also published the video in November 2020.
SOURCE: The Distin, Instagram, Twitter.
CLAIM: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) storms Tinubu’s polling unit in Alausa, Lagos.
THE FINDINGS: Some media reports confirmed that the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were at PU 085, Ward 3, Sunday Adigun, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos where the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, voted. The ICIR reporter who was present at the polling unit also confirmed the EFCC’s visit. But the voting process was not disrupted by their visit.
SOURCES: Punch , Vanguard newspapers and others.
CLAIM: A Twitter user, Baron Chymaker (@chymaker) urged supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to vote overwhelmingly in Abuja. The claimant stated that the presidential candidates of APC’s Bola Tinubu and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar wouldn’t be declared president if they failed to get 25% in the FCT.
THE FINDINGS: Section 133 of the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected if he has a majority of votes cast and “has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
The law doesn’t state winning 25% of votes in Abuja is a condition for winning the presidential election. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said in an interview on Channels TV, “You don’t have to win the FCT; if you meet the requirement; that is two-thirds of the majority of states in the country.” He said courts have ruled that the FCT should be treated as a state.
SOURCE: The Nigerian Constitution
CLAIM: A Twitter user, @Harmless12345 claimed that Buhari’s vote is void.
THE FINDINGS: His post has recorded nearly 80, 000 views on Twitter. Several media reports, however, show that President Muhammadu Buhari displayed his ballot paper publicly after casting his vote for APC in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State. A critical look at the displayed Buhari’s thumbprint shows that it is properly placed and doesn’t exceed beyond the box.
SOURCES: Premium Times, TheCable, Voice of Nigeria and others.
CLAIM: Simon Ekpa, a pro-Biafran agitator, claims voters are not out in Igweocha part of Rivers State to vote due to the IPOB’s sit-at-home order.
THE FINDINGS: An election observer affiliated with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) present at the Igweocha area debunked the news and confirmed that voting is currently ongoing in the area. NFC obtained visual evidence showing that election was ongoing.
SOURCE: CJID Observer
CLAIM: A video that is circulating on social media showed the moment President Muhammadu Buhari voted for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
THE FINDINGS: President Muhammadu Buhari voted earlier today at Daura, Katsina state and had showed off his ballot papers. Screenshots from the video obtained by the NFC showed that the president actually voted for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress. The clearer versions of the pictures were also found here and here.
Also, in a tweet by the presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari said he voted for Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC.
SOURCES: Punch, The Cable, Premium Times
CLAIM: Former senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, in a Facebook post, claimed that thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been arrested in Kogi Central Senatorial district by soldiers.
THE FINDINGS: A Connected Development (CODE) observer on the field, Umar Mohammed, confirmed the incident occurred in Kogi Central around 11 am. He also noted that one of the men arrested is an appointee of the APC government in Kogi State.
A reverse image search did not suggest the image is recent or existed earlier than February 25, 2023.
SOURCE: CODE Observer
CLAIM: A Twitter user claims that voting is yet to commence in some parts of Bayelsa at about 4 pm.
FINDING: NFC contacted an observer from Connected Development (CODE), Tare Amananaghan, who confirmed the report and added that the HOD of INEC’s Voter Education Publicity (VEP), Wilfred Ifogah, had informed earlier that the situation was due to a shortage of ballot paper. As of 5 p.m, Ms Amananaghan confirmed voting had commenced in many polling units affected.
SOURCE: CODE Observer
CLAIM: An online report has announced the death of the party chairman of Labour Party, representing Karshi District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Valentine Onuigbo. The chairman reportedly died in his sleep in the wee hours of Saturday, February 25, 2023.
THE FINDINGS: Spokesperson of the Labour Party, Mr. Yunusa Tanko, has confirmed the incident. Newspapers such as Tribune, Vanguard and Prime Business Africa among others, have also confirmed the death.
SOURCES: Tribune, Vanguard, Prime Business Africa and Labour Party Spokesperson
*This live-check was jointly researched and written by members of the Nigerian Fact-Checkers’ Coalition (NFC): Nurudeen Akewushola, Faith Abeka, Fatimah Quadri (FactCheckHub); Rosemary Ajayi (Digital Africa Research Lab); Daniel Adaji (The Insight); Elizabeth Ogunbamowo, Lois Ugbede, Cole Praise, Silas Jonathan, Temilade Onilede, Lateef Sanni (Dubawa); Catherine Adeniyi, Motunrayo Joel, Allwell Okpi, Seyi Awojuyigbe, Fatimah Abubakar, Abisola Olasupo (Africa Check); Rejoice Ewodage, Hannah Ajakaiye (FactsMatterNG), Shehu Olayinka and Bamas Victoria (ICIR).
It was edited and approved for publication by Kemi Busari, Caroline Anipah, Simbiat Bakare (Dubawa), David Ajikobi (Africa Check), Ajibola Amzat, and Opeyemi Kehinde (FactCheckHub).