Parody tweet and not award-winning academic accused Nigeria’s president-elect of electoral fraud
Saheed Aderinto, a Nigerian-American professor of history and African diaspora studies at Florida International University, was recently awarded a prestigious prize. Days later, social media posts claimed he had referred to Peter Obi of Nigeria's Labour Party as “president-elect” on Twitter and, in a separate post, told Bola Tinubu, the declared winner of last month’s election, to “return the stolen mandate”. This is false; the tweets attributed to Aderinto came from a parody account.
“Thanks anyway for the recognition, I hope you restore Our stolen Mandate (sic),” reads a tweet published on March 13, 2023.
The tweet was sent in response to a congratulatory message from Tinubu after Aderinto was announced as one of the winners of the 2023 Dan David Prize on March 6, 2023.
A screenshot showing the false post, taken on March 13, 2023
The post was retweeted more than 6,800 times and received 15,000 likes.
The same account also responded to a congratulatory message from Obi with “Thank you My President elect (sic)”.
The account regularly shares content in support of Obi.
Another Twitter account interpreted these responses, purportedly from Aderinto, to imply that he endorsed Obi as the winner of the presidential elections, which were marred with claims of serious irregularities.
The Dan David Prize is a history award with an annual purse of $3 million. It awards up to nine prizes of $300,000 each year to outstanding early and mid-career scholars and practitioners in the historical disciplines.
Aderinto is one of this year’s nine winners.
But the claim that Aderinto requested Tinubu to return the “stolen mandate” -- in a reference to the February elections – is false.
The tweet in question came from an account called “Saheed Aderinto”. The bio clearly states that it is a parody account and was created in October 2019.
A screenshot showing the old Twitter account’s bio, taken on March 13, 2023
While AFP Fact Check was investigating the claim, the username was changed from “@Aderinto0” to “@Ellup01”. Also, the display name on the account was changed from “Saheed Aderinto” to “Saheed Aderinto Parody”.
A screenshot showing the new Twitter account’s bio, taken on March 15, 2023
Moreover, the account tweeted that it is a parody account.
Aderinto, through his verified LinkedIn account, distanced himself from the parody Twitter account.
“PS: I don't have a Twitter account. I see that a parody account has been created in my name. I didn't make those statements on Twitter,” he posted on LinkedIn. The same disclaimer was posted on his Facebook page.
In an email response to AFP Fact Check, Aderinto again denied any link to the accounts that tweeted in his name.
“I don't have a Twitter account. I didn't make those statements. I will be happy if you can get the words out there that I didn't make those statements.”