Photo doctored to give false impression Nigerian presidential candidate was watching rival on TV

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Nigerian opposition leader Peter Obi has emerged as one of the top three contenders among 18 hopefuls looking to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 when the country holds general elections. A recent Facebook post claimed to show a picture of his archrival from the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, watching one of Obi’s many television interviews during a flight. But the claim is false; AFP Fact Check found that the original picture has been digitally altered, with Obi’s picture superimposed on the TV screen, which was switched off at the time.

“Tinubu Caught On Camera Watching Peter Obi’s Interview,” reads the post published on October 7, 2022.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on October 14, 2022

Shared more than 240 times, the post includes a photo of Tinubu looking out of an aeroplane window with a small television to his side purportedly showing Obi during a broadcast.

The Facebook account which published the post has a history of sharing pro-Obi content while criticising the ruling APC and its candidate.

Nigerian singer and known Obi supporter Charly Boy shared the image on Twitter, saying “...this is the man to watch”. He has since deleted the tweet. AnotherTwitter account claimed Tinubu was watching Obi because “he has so much respect” for him.

Election fever has ramped up in Nigeria since late September when the campaign season officially kicked off. The country goes to the polls to elect Buhari’s successor next February.

Tinubu, a veteran political operator, is in the running to succeed fellow party man Buhari, along with Obi from the Labour Party and former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party.

But the claim that the photo shows Tinubu watching Obi on TV is false.

Digitally altered photo

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches on the photo and found an earlier version published online a day before the false Facebook post was shared.

Nigerian newspaper Daily Independent said the picture showed Tinubu returning to Nigeria from London on October 6, 2022. The small television screen appears to be off.

A screenshot of the photo published by Daily Independent, taken on October 14, 2022

Tinubu’s campaign team said he had gone to the UK to rest before kicking off his campaign. His absence fueled talk about his fitness to run for president.

Tinubu’s health was the subject of an AFP Fact Check debunk published here.

The photo was also tweeted on October 7, 2022, by Jubril Gawat, a known member of the APC and a spokesman to the Lagos state governor.

“Man stepped in yesterday evening and everyone forgot the names of other Presidential Candidates (sic),” Gawat wrote.

Tinubu also shared a video of himself in the same aircraft on his Instagram page. The video shows the same small monitor switched off.

A screenshot of the video Tinubu shared on Instagram, taken on October 18, 2022
Nigeria elections 2023