No, Justice Tsammani is NOT battling prostate cancer on a wheelchair!

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Multiple reports circulating online claim that Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, the head of the five-man panel of the 2023 Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), is battling prostate cancer and has been confined to a wheelchair.

This is coming barely two months after the PEPC delivered its judgement on the petitions filed by Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, and Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging Bola Tinubu’s emergence in Nigeria’s presidential election held on February 25, 2023.

Screenshot from the online news blog, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.
Screenshot from the online news blog, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.

According to the viral reports, archived here and here, Nyesom Wike, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had travelled to visit Justice Tsammani in Paris, France.

The reports also stated that Justice Tsammani blamed Wike for his ailment after he returned from Paris.

Screenshot from another news blog, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.
Screenshot from another news blog, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.

 

CLAIM

Justice Tsammani is battling prostate cancer on a wheelchair.

 

THE FINDINGS

In an attempt to confirm the veracity of the reports, this researcher traced the source of the news to Jackson Ude, who made the claim in a post uploaded to X (formerly Twitter) on October 18, 2023.

Parts of Ude’s post read, “Justice Haruna Tsammani returned from Paris unable to fix his enlarged prostrate. He has been on a wheelchair and cannot walk, according to an informant at the Appeal Court.”

Screenshot from Jackson Ude’s post, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.

The post had garnered over 140,000 views, over 1,000 reposts, and more than 1,700 likes as of when it was retrieved from the micro-blogging platform.

The pidgin version of Ude’s post was posted by another verified X user, as archived here.

Screenshot from another X user, showing the claim. INSERT: False verdict.

To further verify the claim, this researcher contacted Kabir Akanbi, the deputy chief registrar of the Appeal Court in Abuja, who debunked the claim. According to him, Justice Tsammani has been consistently appearing in court.

This researcher also had a phone conversation with Justice Tsammani, which lasted over two minutes. In the conversation, the justice described the viral report as the work of mischievous makers and explained that his recent travel took him to Bauchi, where he visited his family.

The justice explained that he has become accustomed to bad actors propagating unfounded information about judges.

He further stated that he sat over a case regarding the November 11 off-cycle election in Bayelsa state on Monday, October 23, adding that he also sat on a case on Friday, October 27, 2023.

 

THE VERDICT

The viral claim that Justice Tsammani is battling prostate cancer on a wheelchair is FALSE; evidence shows that Justice Tsammani has been appearing in court contrary to the widespread reports that he is sick.

 

* This fact-check was written by Raji Olatunji, a fellow of the ICIR’s Countering Misinformation and Promoting Media Literacy project, supported by the German Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.

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