Parody and political campaign accounts have been proven to be part of the factors fuelling disinformation online, especially during election seasons in Nigeria.
The much anticipated 2023 general elections are gradually becoming history, with the process waiting to be finally concluded in Adamawa state where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the governorship poll as inconclusive.
However, disinformation and misinformation had already trailed the 2023 governorship race in the state and the country at large.
A fact-check by CDD Election War Room had earlier revealed how a parody account in the name of Aderinto Saheed, a Nigerian-American professor who recently won the world’s history prize, incited disinformation against Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared winner of the February 25 presidential election.
Following the report debunking the viral disinformation, the handler of the said Twitter account modified the page to show a different username, with the professor’s picture.
On the heels of the governorship and house of assembly elections held on Saturday, March 18, multiple Twitter posts making the rounds online, claimed that Aishat Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, emerged as the first elected female governor in Nigeria.
Binani, who is the governorship candidate of the APC, contested against Ahmad Fintiri, the incumbent governor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Adamawa state.
The reports that Binani had won circulated across various social media platforms, including WhatsApp, while the collation of results was still ongoing in several local governments of the states where the elections were held.
A Twitter user, Dr. Aloy Chife, posted Dahiru’s portrait and captioned it, “A hearty congratulations to Nigeria’s first elected female Governor, Aisha Binani of Adamawa State.”
Chife made the post, archived here, at 6:59 pm on Sunday, March 19, which has since garnered over 67k views, 360 retweets and 1,278 likes as of when it was retrieved from Twitter.
Many other verified Twitter users, including the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, also congratulated Binani as winner of the guber polls. We archived some of such here, here, here, and here.
However, there were no credible reports stating that Binani was declared elected as governor of Adamawa state as of when the claim was making the rounds on social media.
Premium Times had earlier reported that Binani won seven out of the 18 local government areas where results had been announced.
The report stated that the incumbent governor Fintiri of the PDP was leading with a margin of over 16,000 votes based on results from 18 of the 21 LGAs already announced at the time.
CDD Election War Room traced the viral claim to a parody account with the name @Binani4Governor on Twitter.
TIMELINE FOR VIRAL DISINFORMATION
The handle had posted results purported to be from Adamawa at 5:39 pm on Sunday, March 19, with the caption, “Final results.” But CDD Election War Room was informed by a journalist on ground that the collation of results at the state collation centre started at about 12:16pm at the state capital, Yola.
A few minutes past 2pm, Mele Lamido, the returning officer, adjourned the collation exercise till 4:00 pm after collation of electoral results from 10 LGAs. At the time, Fintiri had secured six LGAs, while Binani had four LGAs.
Collation, which was to resume at 4pm, started at a few minutes past 5pm. Aliyu Hong, the state collating officer for the PDP, announced at the collation centre that thugs snatched the result sheet while INEC officials were collating election results from the wards in Fufore LGA of Adamawa.
The collation continued. As of the time the tweet was made, the results from Madagali LGA was being announced at the collation centre — this was the 13th LGA announced.
A few minutes later, at 6:13 pm, the handle posted a graphic showing Binani with the inscription, “Madam Governor”. But as of 7 pm, when the collation officer announced another break, 18 of 21 LGAs had been announced.
At the time, Binani of the APC had 329,770 votes, while Finitri, the incumbent governor of the PDP was in the lead with 346,103 votes to his name. At this time, the claim had begun to go viral on social media, with the “Madam governor” graphic making the rounds.
That led to the viral claim that Binani had emerged as the country’s first elected female governor without an official declaration from the electoral umpire.
On Monday, March 20, INEC declared the state guber poll inconclusive, with results from one local government, Fufore, yet to be collated as thugs had reportedly snatched the results sheet of the LGA.
Out of the 20 LGAs declared so far, Fintiri of the PDP won 13, leaving Binani of the APC with seven.
This shows that the incumbent governor of the state, who is seeking re-election, is in the lead contrary to the viral claim.
CDD Election War Room had stated in an earlier published fact shield on how to avoid falling for fake election results, that only INEC is empowered by law to make official declarations of election results.
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