By Ogar Monday and Stephanie Adams -Douglas
Claim: A Facebook user shared screenshots purportedly from different media organizations, including AP, Financial Times, News 24, NDTV, and Times of India. In the screenshot, some world leaders had called the 2023 elections a sham and requested for the cancellation of the polls.
Verdict: False. The screenshots are not from the media organizations.
Reactions continue to trail Nigeria’s presidential elections, which were held on Saturday, February 25, 2023, and brought in former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Tinubu, as the president-elect. Many people who claim that the elections were not free and fair continue to hope that pronouncements from world leaders will delegitimize the process.
So it wasn’t a shock when Victor Iorbula, a Facebook user, shared six screenshots on a Facebook group, purportedly from international media organizations reporting that world leaders called for the cancellation of the polls.
The headline in the first screenshot, purportedly from AP News, reads, “Angry Biden calls for the cancellation of Nigeria 2023 election.”
The second screenshot, purportedly from Financial Times, reads, “Angry Putin warns Nigeria Government and demands cancellation of the 2023 fraudulent polls.”
Also, another screenshot purportedly from South African-based News 24 reads, “U.K Prime Minister reacts heavily, alleges rigging by INEC, calls for cancellation.”
India’s TV broadcaster, NDTV, as one of the screenshots purportedly was from them, reads, “Xi Jinping calls for total cancellation of Nigeria 2023 poll.”
The next one, with the name of the media organisation not legible, reads, “Macron describes Nigeria’s INEC Chairman’s action as ‘highest level of irresponsibility.”
And the last screenshot is purportedly from the Times of India, with the caption “U.N Antonio Guterres alleges corruption in Nigeria electoral body, calls for cancellation.”
The post generated different opinions, with many calling it fake.
Igba Igburu, who called out the author as a peddler of falsehood, advised the claimant to stop sharing untrue stories.
“Stop spreading falsehood. Even after the election, heaven is still real,” Mr Igburu commented.
But others believed the screenshot was genuine and from acclaimed sources. Ikyo Avalumun asked the world leaders to stay off the country and “sit down.”
CrossRiverWatch first noticed that there was a period after the alleged headlines. Adding periods to headlines is not the standard for any media house, let alone reputable ones.
Another discrepancy DUBAWA observed was the style of NDTV’s headline on the screenshot and that on their site. Only proper nouns are capitalised on the screenshot, purportedly from NDTV, but on the website, NDTV capitalises every word on its headline.
Image 7: Headlines on NDTV with every word capitalised against what is on image 4
CrossRiverWatch then ran a keyword search on each website to see if the stories could be found there. However, none existed.
What have these leaders said about the Nigerian polls?
Some of the leaders in the screenshot have congratulated the president-elect, with the others not making any statement on the elections.
Xi Jinping, the president of China, congratulated Tinubu, pointing out the bilateral relationship between both countries and the gains the countries have derived from that partnership.
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, also congratulated the former Lagos State Governor, expressing his hope that both nations will work together to grow our security and trade ties, opening up business opportunities and creating prosperity in both our countries.
While the US President, Joe Biden, is yet to send a congratulatory message, Ned Price, a State Department Spokesman, on March 1st, 2023, congratulated the president-elect on behalf of the US Government.
Currently, there is no public information about any other leaders congratulating or calling for the cancellation of the Nigerian elections.
CrossRiverWatch also established that alleged screenshots were mostly likely forged using an online tool called “News Meme Creator.” The tool allows users to edit and create news or headlines in “real-time” before saving them as an image (screenshot). Several other similar tools are available online that are free and open to the public.
The screenshot of the world leaders purportedly from the media organizations calling for the cancellation of Nigeria’s polls is fake. Some of the leaders have publicly congratulated the president-elect.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship, in partnership with CrossRiverWatch, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.