On March 19, 2023, Nigerian Twitter was buzzing with congratulatory messages for Aishatu Binanu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Adamawa state, on her victory at the polls held on March 18, 2023.
The mood was especially jubilant as she was said to be Nigeria’s first elected female governor. The outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, and other notable Twitter users like Aloy Chife and J.J Omojuwa congratulated her .
The celebrations turned out to be premature. There were no credible news reports that announced the victory, and neither had the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Although Binani had won seven local governments out of 18 INEC had announced, she was still trailing behind the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who had won 11. The lead margin was over 16,000, with three LGs still to go. So how, despite these, was the claim of Binani’s victory so easily believed?
The fact check agency, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa), looked into the origin of the claim. Here’s what they found.
A parody account spreads misinformation
A parody account named @Binani4Governor on Twitter was the originator of this claim.
The handle had posted results purported to be from Adamawa at 5:39 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, with the caption, “Final results.” But CDD Election War Room was informed by a journalist that results collation at the state collation centre started at about 12:16 p.m. at the state capital, Yola.
A few minutes past 2 p.m., Fintiri had secured six LGAs, while Binani had four LGAs. 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. Regardless, at 6:13 pm, the handle posted a graphic showing Binani with the inscription, “Madam Governor”. But as of 7 p.m., when the collation officer announced another break, 18 of 21 LGAs had been reported.
Binani had 329,770 votes, while Finitri was in the lead with 346,103 votes. This was when the claim began to go viral on social media, with the “Madam governor” graphic making the rounds.
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.
INEC has scheduled April 15 for a supplementary election in the affected LGA. Contrary to earlier claims, Binani has not won the Adamawa guber election. Any such claim is misleading and, therefore, cold zobo.
In Nigeria’s Electoral Act 2022, only INEC has the power to declare a winner at the federal and state levels. Protect yourself from fake news. Corroborate claims by checking out trusted news sources or from INEC itself.