2019 report recirculated to fuel Atiku/Buhari presidential election rivalry – and many fell for it

CLAIM: INEC presiding officers made confession on electronic transmission of 2019 presidential election results

VERDICT: TRUE! But report is from April 2019

FULL STORY: On Sunday, November 29, 2020, news blogs reported there is a victory for 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, following revelation by some staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A screenshot of the news report

The news report which appeared here, here, here claimed that 13 presiding officers engaged by INEC said they transmitted results of the February 23, 2019 election electronically against the position of the commission.

 It stated further that the presiding officers made the statements at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja.

One of the reports was headlined: “Massive Victory For Atiku As INEC Staff Makes Powerful Confession That May Vindicate Him.”

The post here also featured a 5:31 minutes video which analysed the report from another news platform.

It reads: “About 13 Presiding Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Borno and Yobe States, have told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, that they transmitted the results of the February 23, Presidential election in their various units and wards, to the official server of INEC.

“The position of the presiding officers, however, contradicted the submission of INEC, who had earlier stated in its reply to the petition, that the results were never sent to its server.

“This could go a long way in vindicating Atiku if proved to be true. What do you think? Is this the end for Buhari?”

Some of the comments on the report showed that the readers not only believed the report as a fresh one, they also analysed and passed comments on their thoughts on the case.

One of the readers, Kampala Pender said: “They should just forget that, as the judgment will always be twisted even with millions of evidence, I advise Atiku to focus on future.” (sic)

Bright Miebi commented, “please we should forget about that before there will be war in Nigeria.”

HappyMan wrote: “Good news but hungry people in power will not allow it to scale through. From onset they knew who really won but was twisted.”

Ologunde Evng Abraham queried “truth is always constant but who will take care of it?”

While some few other comments cast aspersions on the persons of Atiku and Buhari, a reader, Prince Olaniyan Toba, asked if the information is “fresh news or old.” He, however, did not get answers from those who dropped comments.

VERIFICATION: Key phrase search of the report showed that it had been published by mainstream media about 21 months ago.

The report came following assertions by INEC that it did not transmit the 2019 election results electronically.

Media organisations who reported this revelation include Vanguard, This Day, Premium Times, Ripples Nigeria, Daily Post.

Checks on YouTube showed that the video was published by Trybez Fashion on April 26, 2019.

A cursory look at the video, which has so far garnered 26,602 views showed that texts of the re-invented report were copied from the YouTube video verbatim.

More so, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which the report referenced had completed its duties more than a year ago and has since been dissolved.

Nigerian Tribune reports that the tribunal on September 11, 2019 upheld the election of President Muhammadu Buhari who was declared winner by INEC in February.

Unsatisfied with the judgement of the tribunal, Atiku and the PDP approached the Supreme Court which dismissed the petition on October 30, 2019 while upholding Buhari’s election as president of Nigeria for another term of four years which will end in 2023.

CONCLUSION: Even though the content of the report is true, it is coming about 21 months late. Clear evidence showed that the report was re-invented from 2019 and the elections petition tribunal has since 2019 completed its duties.

The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with The Nigerian Tribune to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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