Claim: On August 9, 2022, Sahara Reporters published a breaking news: Nigerian Electoral Body, INEC Succumbs To Pressure From Ruling APC, Backdates Documents To Recognise Senate President Lawan, Akpabio As Senatorial Candidates. This is the second time; the news outlet will make this claim. On July 8, 2022, it published Nigerian Electoral Body, INEC Succumbs To Pressure From Ruling APC To Recognise Senate President, Lawan As Yobe Senatorial Candidate, Moves To Destroy Electoral Commissioner’s Report. These claims have generated debates on social media, particularly on WhatsApp. In the new claim, the media organization said, it has credible evidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has backdated Certified True Copies (CTC) of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries to accommodate Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio and others as candidates in the 2023 general elections.
To validate its claim, the online news reporter, published the INEC document for the nomination of candidates by political parties. The document dated June 17, 2022, also has INEC’s CTC stamp dated July 15, 2022.
Fact Check: CDD’s fact check of July 10, 2022 had earlier countered Sahara Reporters’ claim of July 8, 2022. In the new claim, fact checkers applied Tineye, a fact check tool to verify the authenticity of INEC’s form EC9C; the form for nomination of candidates by political parties. The form EC9C is what political parties use to submit to INEC, the names of its nominated candidates, which must be signed by the party’s recognized national chairman and secretary. This is not an INEC’s report.
As the date shows, June 17, 2022, was the last date for the submission of nominations by political parties, as stated in the INEC’s Time table and Guideline for the 2023 general elections. According the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during the meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), the INEC’s portal closed at 6:00pm on June 17, 2022. The All Progressives Congress (APC), the party whose form EC9C is being interrogated, submitted the names of both Akpabio and Lawan on that date (June 17, 2022).
INEC has since published the personal particulars of nominated candidates of political parties, the details of both Lawan and Akpabio were not included as our earlier fact check show. CDD can independently confirm that the matter is now in court, which required INEC to certify a true copy of the form EC9C dated July 15, 2022, following the litigation processes.
Further check can confirm that INEC was yet to publish the final list of candidates; which according to Timetable is September 20, 2022, for Presidential and National Assembly elections. This is in line with Section 32 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Conclusion: CDD can confirm that the breaking story by Sahara Report, which is also trending online is false. As we head to the 2023 general elections, electorates and indeed Nigerians must be curious of political information; particularly on the online space. Electoral disinformation will dominate the country’s ecosystem. The aim of peddlers of misleading contents and information among others is to delegitimize the election management body and ultimately the electoral system. Each one has the responsibility to share verified information.