Muhammadu Buhari
Muhammadu Buhari was born on born 17 December 1942

Buhari Body Double

Returning to Nigeria after a long sick leave in London last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was greeted with a bizarre conspiracy theory.

He had died and been replaced by “Jubril from Sudan”, a body double who had undergone extensive plastic surgery, said the Biafran secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu.

President Muhammadu Buhari had to deny several times that he had not risen from the dead. It was extraordinary and more than a little surreal. The sitting president of Africa’s largest democracy was forced to refute repeated claims that he had died and a clone was now running his office.

“This is the real me,” said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, dismissing the allegation as “ignorant rumors” after a period of ill health. For the avoidance of any doubt, the denial is pinned to his official Twitter page.

Welcome to the Nigerian election season, where disinformation and propaganda are nothing new. But in the lead up to the 2019 presidential vote on Saturday, fake news “has been on steroids,” says Lolade Nwanze, journalist and head of digital operations for the Guardian Nigeria newspaper.

Leah Sharibu
Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old held captive for nearly a year by Islamist militants Boko Haram

Missing Dapchi girl

One example of disinformation, which started to appear on social media a few days ago, has been about Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old held captive for nearly a year by Islamist militants Boko Haram for refusing to convert to Islam.

More than 100 girls were kidnapped from the village of Dapchi, in northern Nigeria, and all but one have now been released.

The messages and posts, spread on WhatsApp and Facebook, claimed that Leah had died – and they quickly went viral.

An anonymous “family source” had confirmed the death of the girl, according to social media posts.

In response, a government minister called the story “absolute fake news” and Mr Ogunlesi, from Mr Buhari’s campaign, says the story was used to deliberately target the government.

Atiku promises 40 percent women
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar

Free cash?

The accusation here is that opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar was behind a ploy to hand out cash and food boxes at a political rally.

This story was shared online by Lauretta Onochie, an aide to President Buhari, who posted a photo of boxes wrapped together with Nigerian currency notes in the northern state of Sokoto.

“Keep them in poverty, then give them handouts – Atiku in Sokoto yesterday,” she wrote.

The Buhari campaign denies spreading any disinformation.

However, the photo is two years old and was taken at an event organised by the Kokun Foundation, which campaigns against hunger.

A media adviser for the Atiku campaign told BBC Reality Check: “Atiku will not give handouts to anybody.”

Missing Nigerian Girls
Nigerian Girls

Make Nigeria worse again?

Another widely shared video accuses Atiku Abubakar of brokering a deal with Boko Haram in exchange for land and oil.

The short video, viewed over 200,000 times, was shared from a Facebook page called “Make Nigeria Worse Again”. But it has no details about where or when the Atiku campaign was supposed to have announced the plan.

The Atiku campaign team told BBC Reality Check that the deal did not exist – “there is nothing to that affect”.

Atiku Abubakar Former Vice President of Nigeria
Atiku Abubakar GCON is a Nigerian politician, businessman and philanthropist. He served as the 11th vice-president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 under the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. He is a member of People’s Democratic Party. In 1998 he was elected Governor of Adamawa State.

When Buhari voted ‘against Nigeria’

And finally, we’ve turned up an inaccurate story doing the rounds online portraying Muhammadu Buhari as both unpatriotic and bestowing favours on a member of his own ethnic group when he was military head of state in the 1980s.

This would be potentially damaging to Mr Buhari’s attempt to appeal to all Nigerians, not just those from his own region.

The story relates to Mr Buhari’s failure to support the election of a Nigerian candidate for the post of secretary general of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor of the African Union (AU).

Instead, the story goes, he supported a non-Nigerian from the neighbouring country of Niger – where a member of his own Fulani ethnic group was a candidate for the job.

This story has been repeatedly and emphatically rejected by the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu.

NBS Bank Your Caring Bank