Nigerian presidential hopeful Peter Obi subject of hoax claim about attack on convoy

·4-min read

A Facebook post claimed pictures it shared showed the aftermath of a gun attack on the convoy of Peter Obi, a Nigerian opposition leader who is contesting next year’s presidential election. This is false; all the images depict various incidents from previous years and were not taken in Abuja, as the post claimed. Obi also denied being in a convoy that came under attack.

Peter Obi convoy sprayed with gunshots in Abuja a few hours after he returned to Nigeria (sic),” reads the Facebook post, adding that the purported culprits were “unknown Yoruba men”.

A screenshot of a false Facebook post, taken September 14, 2022

The post has been shared more than 400 times since it was published on September 12, 2022. It includes four images, including one of Obi pushing a baggage cart. Another picture shows armed security officers in traffic, while the final two are images of SUVs with broken windows.

The Facebook account that shared the pictures has a history of publishing misleading and false information sympathetic to Obi (see our previous fact-checks here and here).

Several other Facebook accounts shared the same photos with similar captions (here, here, and here).

Attacks on top politicians in Nigeria are not rare. A convoy ferrying fringe opposition senator Ifeanyi Ubah was attacked in Anambra state, southeast Nigeria, on September 11, 2022. Five people, including two police officers, died in the attack.

Obi was the governor of the state from 2006 to 2014.

Years earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari’s convoy was attacked in Kaduna on July 23, 2014. Like Obi, he was an opposition leader at the time.

But the claim that Obi was recently attacked in Abuja is false.

Old photos from different events

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches on all the photos and found they were published online from 2016 to 2021. None of the pictures were taken in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and the claimed location of the purported attack.

Firstly, the photo of Obi pushing a baggage cart was shared as part of a set on Facebook on September 7, 2016. Seen walking out of an airport terminal, Obi, the post claims, was offered help by airport porters but declined to let them push his luggage.

A screenshot shows Obi pushing a baggage cart, taken September 15, 2022

The second photo in the Facebook post was published by Premium Times on October 17, 2020, following an attack by protesters on the convoy of Osun state governor Gboyega Isiaka in southwest Nigeria.

A screenshot of the Premium Times article, taken on September 15, 2022

The protesters, most of them young, were marching against police brutality in major Nigerian cities at the time.

Premium Times also published the third picture in an article on December 21, 2016, showing the aftermath of an attack on Kaduna state governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai in northwest Nigeria.

A screenshot of the Premium Times article, taken on September 15, 2022

The newspaper reported that El-Rufai and his entourage were stoned by protesters when he visited Kafanchan in southern Kaduna for a security meeting.

The number plate on the SUV in the photo bears the seal of Kaduna’s state governor.

A screenshot of the number plate of the SUV, taken on September 15, 2022

The last photo in the false post was shared on Twitter by news site The Guild Nigeria on July 12, 2021. The tweet explained that the photo, one of four, showed security officials who were part of the convoy of Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu apprehending suspected robbers in traffic.

A report about the arrest was published by The Punch newspaper on July 13, 2021.

Attack claims a hoax

A spokesperson for police in Abuja, Josephine Adeh, described the claim as “fake news”.

Obi’s media aide, Valentine Obienyem, also issued a public statement denying the claim.

“May God forbid even the very thought of such barbarism be visited on him,” he wrote.

The false post was published hours after several Facebook accounts shared a statement released by Festus Keyamo, the spokesperson for the campaign team of Bola Tinubu, the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

In it, Keyamo accused Obi of planning to “fake an assassination attempt on himself” and to make it look like the work of Tinubu’s supporters.

But a spokesperson for Obi’s campaign Emeka Obasi said the Labour Party candidate has no such plan, describing Keyamo’s claim as a “fallacy.”

Keyamo’s statement was a direct response to a viral video in which Obi claimed that a Tinubu support group sent a WhatsApp message asking Yorubas not to vote for Obi but for the ruling party’s candidate.