Lekki Toll Gate, The #Endsars Protests And Misinformation in Nigeria This Week

The #EndSARS protests began as a movement against Police brutality in Nigeria. Young Nigerians took to the street and social media to ask for an end to decades of harassment, brutality and even death from a unit of the Police Force in Nigeria, the defunct Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad (F-SARS) popularly known as SARS for short.

Millions of tweets were shared, making the hashtag #EndSARS trend globally with Twitter handing the world an icon for the movement. In the past week, young Nigerians took to Twitter using #EndSARS to narrate their ordeal on the excesses of the SARS unit notorious for abuse of human rights.

Throughout this period, there were protests from all over the world, demanding a reform of the entire police system but not all information shared were facts.

At the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), we spotted thousands of posts and claims that were posted online using the hashtag and found some to be misinformation or outright disinformation. We have reviewed some of them and other claims below:

Lady Wrapped In Nigerian flag Stained With Blood Not Dead, Not From Lekki Shooting

The lady, wrapped up in the Nigerian flag stained with blood had her hand dropping like she had no life in her, triggering generated over 105,700 likes and 6,934 comments and reactions on social media that she was a victim of the Lekki #EndSARS shooting.

In some cases, the photograph when shared on social media is accompanied by short captions stating that the lady is part of the #EndSARS protesters who fell to the bullets of soldiers of the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.

Our checks show that the photograph was taken at a drama set in Akwa Ibom State during the 60th Anniversary celebration of Nigeria’s Independence by the Nigerian Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF).

A statement released by the NCCF on Thursday, October 22, 2020, and seen by CDD said the title of the drama is “Lord, Heal Our Nation”.

“The picture did not emanate from the Lekki Toll Gate killings,” the statement said.

Also, a Facebook user, Onyinye Francis, who was part of the drama, said the lady in question is safe.

Read the full report here

Trending Video of ASUU Executives Fighting is Fake

A trending video posted on Twitter on Saturday, October 24, 2020, claims that some lawmakers slapped the Chairman of Association Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during a meeting. Multiple sources on the microblogging site have shared this claim. The tweet had over 100 likes, 74 comments with many users downloading the video and sharing.

This claim is an old video of a brawl between lawmakers of the Edo State House of Assembly in 2017. Popular among those source of the claim is a verified Twitter account, @GoldmyneTV.

Fact-checkers at the CDD traced the original video which was published on YouTube channel on August 14, 2017, to Sahara Reporters. The CDD also discovered that it was from the video that Goldmyne cropped the piece which has been shared widely.

The original video published by Sahara Reporters shows a fight at the Edo State House of Assembly after the Speaker of the House of Assembly Justine Okonoboh was impeached by his fellow lawmakers. This followed a vote of no confidence passed on the Speaker at the plenary on August 14, 2017. Okonoboh impeachment notice was signed by 16 lawmakers of the 24-member Assembly over allegations of abuse of power vested in his office.

Honourable Kabiru Adjoto immediately replaced him as the fourth Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly.

Also, more investigation on the video showed that while the original video is two minutes long, the one shared in the claim is 27 seconds showing it has been cropped to hide the full information of the video.

One of the persons seen in the video throwing items at another man is Honourable Kabiru Adjoto, a former member of the Edo State House of Assembly.

In the last frame of the video shared by Goldmyne, we can visibly see one of the men involved in the brawl trying to pick up what we identified as the maze of the Edo House of Assembly.

Also, no other media source reported that executives of ASUU were involved in a brawl.

Read the full report here.

Has Bola Ahmed Tinubu left the APC?

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, fact-checkers at the CDD spotted a story published by a Facebook page of an online Hausa newspaper, Sahara Reporters Hausaclaiming that the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has decamped from the ruling party.

The story claimed that Tinubu left the APC because he was privy to information that some Northern governors were planning to expel him from the party for sponsoring the #EndSARS protest across Nigeria.

According to the report, the plan to expel Tinubu from the APC is a plot to prevent him from getting the party’s presidential ticket ahead of the 2023 elections. Tinubu is yet to announce the party he is joining at the moment, the story added.

At the time of writing this fact check, the story on Sahara Report Hausa has been shared 1,300 times, generated 570 comments as well as 335 likes.

Investigations by fact-checkers at the CDD on the report that Tinubu had decamped for the APC show that the claim is false.

Speaking to a CDD fact-checker, Tunde Rahman, the spokesperson to the national leader of the APC said his principal is still a member of the ruling party.

Describing the claim as fake news, Rahman said: “why will he leave the party he helped to build? He is still in the party and has no plans to leave it”.

“It is fake news, disregard it, Bola Tinubu is still in the party”.

Also, reacting to the news of Tinubu’s defection from the APC, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary for the party, Yekini Nabena, told CDD fact-checkers the party is not aware its national leader has decamped.

Nabena said: “As far as I’m concerned, we are not aware at the party headquarters that he has left the party.”

As at the time of writing this report, CDD confirms that the claim that APC national leader, Bola Tinubu has decamped from the APC is false!

Read the full report here

#BuhariISDead Trended on Twitter with claims President Buhari was Dead

Thousands of Twitter users on Thursday, October 22, 2020, shared claims that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is dead. The several posts pushing the claim that the President is dead have been shared using the hashtag #BuhariIsDead to trend at number one on Twitter, at the time of writing this report.

The silence of the President on the Lekki Attack on #EndSARS protesters have fuelled the narrative that President Buhari is dead.

The delay in this address has continued to fuel the narrative that the President is dead.

However, contrary to these narratives, President Buhari presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. He, however, did not speak on the Tuesday night gruesome murder of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, by security agents.

A day before, on October 20, the President met with the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi, and the Chief of Defense Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, at the State House.

As at the time of writing of this report at 1: 25pm, October 22, 2020, Ahmad Bashir said President Muhammadu Buhari is presiding over the National Security Council Meeting at the Council Chambers, the State House, Abuja.

In attendance are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SGF Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Defence Minister, the Service Chiefs, the IG of Police and other heads of the security agencies are all in attendance.

Read the full report here.

The Katsina #EndSARS Protesters Calling For Buhari’s Resignation

A 30 seconds viral video on the micro-blogging site, Twitter, claimed women dressed in hijabs while chanting and dancing were calling for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation.

The women were heard chanting “Buhari is a hypocrite and should release Mallam for us” in Hausa.

According to the post, the incident took place during the #EndSARS protest in Katsina State as youths went all out to demand an end to insecurity, among many others.

A check by CDD shows that the video originally published on YouTube on Monday, October 12, 2020, by the African Best TV has gained over 44,000 views before being shared on Twitter.

More checks by the Centre revealed that the video which is an old one is from a protest calling for the release of the Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria also known as the Shiite group. El-Zakzaky was arrested and has been in detention since 2015 for murder and leading an unlawful gathering.

Read the full report here

Did A Non-Existing Group Take Responsibility For Burning Vehicles in Abuja During #EndSARS Protest

On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, a claim emerged that the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) has taken responsibility for the attack meted out to #EndSARS protesters by some hoodlums in Apo district of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

According to the six-paragraphed claim, operations against the #EndSARS protesters will continue tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The statement said: “We hereby order all our cells across the country to mobilise for a battle we have all waited for since the past years.”

Investigations by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) traced the original message to a post from a blog titled Jungle Journalist. The message has since been posted on Nairaland and shared on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

Also, in 2019 CDD conducted a fact-check exposing FUNAM as a faceless group that emerged in 2018. The group had then claimed to be responsible for attacks amid the farmer/herders crisis.

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, as is being used now to stoke tensions after unidentified attackers burned vehicles in the Apo/Mechanic Village axis of Abuja on October 19.

Read the full report here

SSS Operatives Did Not Arrest Protesters in Kano

On Saturday, October 17, 2020, fact-checkers at the CDD spotted a report claiming that the State Security Services (SSS) in Kano state arrested some Nigerians protesting the insecurity in the Northern region of Nigeria.

The report published on Punch newspaperthe Cable and Inside Arewa News claimed that the security operatives in plain clothes arrested four “anti-government” protesters in Kano on Friday, October 16, 2020.

 According to the report, the protesters were also being detained by the SSS in Kano State.

Investigations by the CDD show that no member of the group protesting the insecurity in the North was arrested or detained by operatives of the SSS.

CDD fact-checkers gathered that the SSS invited leaders of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG)under the chairmanship of Nastura Ashir Shariff in Kano.

The invitation extended to the CNG leaders by the SSS followed the group’s scheduled protest to raise the issue of the insecurity in the region for government’s improved intervention.

The leaders who arrived at the SSS office at 9.30 pm on Friday, October 16, 2020, had a meeting which lasted for six-hours with the security operatives.

The group members left the SSS office and continued with their planned protest on Saturday, October 17, 2020, with take-off from Daula Hotel to the Police Headquarters in Bompai, Kano.

At the State’s Police Headquarters, the group handed a letter to the Kano Commissioner of Police before dispersing.

Also, reacting to the reports of the arrest, Sheriff confirmed to CDD fact-checkers that, no member of his group was arrested or detained by the SSS.

Read the full report here.

CDD is urging Nigerians to always verify the authenticity stories before sharing them. You can also forward suspicious messages for verification via WhatsApp to +2349062910568 or contact us on Twitter @CDDWestAfrica

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa