On June 1, 2021, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, received a briefing from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, at the Statehouse in Abuja.

Yakubu had come to brief the president on a series of attacks on facilities of the electoral body across the country.

In reaction, President Buhari had said he will provide INEC with all it needs to carry out its duties and prepare ahead of the 2023 elections.

In a Twitter thread after the briefing, the President, however, warned that ‘a rude shock’ awaits unpatriotic elements promoting insurrection and burning critical assets across the country.

The president threatened to treat insurrectionists and those attacking facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) like Nigerian soldiers treated the rebels during the civil war.

Buhari, a retired general, fought during the war which claimed the lives of over one million persons.

The last part of the thread attracted the outrage of many Nigerians who interpreted it to be a threat to a particular ethnic group.

The tweet reads, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

Screenshot of @MBuhari’s controversial tweet.

Many Nigerians reported the Twitter account of the President seeking a ban on the account, however, Twitter deleted the controversial post by the President, rather than ban his account.

Screenshot of a tweet calling for a ban on the President’s account.

A comment by Twitter stated, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules”.

This action by the social media giant did not go down well with some government officials, especially the Minister of Information and Culture, who condemned Twitter’s action in a press conference.

A photo, which had now gone viral on social media especially the popular messaging app, WhatsApp, featured Twitter’s verified handle explaining the rules President Buhari had contravened which caused the deletion of the tweet.

The tweet which had purportedly come from Twitter read, “Dear @MBuhari We have no idea who you are or what country you are leading, we have come across a tweet that violates our rule number 4 of “safety and freedom” and removed it.”

 

A screenshot of the manipulated photo containing a purported tweet from @Twitter.
Verification

Dubawa started by checking the official handle of Twitter (@Twitter) to see if it posted any tweet such as this, but found nothing of such.

From searches made, @Twitter’s last tweet was on May 28 while the circulating tweet was dated June 4, 2021.

A screenshot of the last tweet by @Twitter made on 28th May 2021 from Sprinklr.

Also, the purported tweet was posted with Twitter for Android but checks from Dubawa have revealed that @Twitter uses Sprinklr or Twitter Web App to make posts.

Screenshot of another tweet by @Twitter on 27th May made from Sprinklr.
Screenshot of a tweet by @Twitter made from Twitter Web App.

Also, Twitter had not independently made any comment on its verified handle regarding the deletion of the President’s tweet on its verified handle ever since the incident.

Further checks by Dubawa showed that President Muhammadu Buhari is officially recognised as Nigeria’s President as stated on his bio in the verified handle. As of Sunday, the President’s account is active with 4.1 million followers.

A screenshot of Buhari’s Twitter account with over 4 million followers.

Dubawa further made use of Forensically, a tool for digital image forensics, which confirmed that the picture had been created by some photo manipulation tricks.

A screenshot of the quantized image of the photo which showed that the Twitter logo had been cropped into the image.
Another form of the image using Forensically’s level sweep tool shows the parts of the image that were introduced when copy pasting the content.

Another form of the image using Forensically’s level sweep tool shows the parts of the image that were introduced when copy pasting the content.

A screenshot of the same image uses Forensically’s Clone detection tool. The red line and blue dots show that the image was created using either photoshop or some other photo manipulation tools.

A screenshot of the same image uses Forensically’s Clone detection tool. The red line and blue dots show that the image was created using either photoshop or some other photo manipulation tools.

Conclusion

Findings showed that the picture being circulated as a tweet from the verified handle of Twitter is false. The picture was manipulated.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with SaharaReporters to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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