Photo manipulated to give false impression Nigerian presidential candidate used a teleprompter

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Nigerian opposition leader Peter Obi has emerged as one of the top contenders looking to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in February’s election. A recent Twitter post claimed to show a picture of Obi using a teleprompter during a speech at the London-based think tank Chatham House. But the claim is false: AFP Fact Check found the photo has been digitally altered to add a teleprompter.

“Peter Obi used both Teleprompter and Note Book at the Chatham House and still ended up disgracing himself (sic),” reads the tweet, which has drawn more than 561,000 views since it was published on January 16, 2023.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on January 27, 2023

Chatham House is a London-based think tank where several Nigerian election officials and presidential candidates, including ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu, have spoken in recent weeks ahead of next month’s ballot.

The tweet, shared by a supporter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), features two images of Obi speaking in London.

In the first picture, Obi stands before a podium with nothing on either side of him. In the second, a teleprompter is seen to his left.

Nigerians head to the polls on February 25, 2023, to elect Buhari’s successor, along with governors for the majority of the 36 states as well as federal and state lawmakers.

Obi has emerged as one of the top three presidential contenders among the 18 candidates, enjoying significant support from young people.

When Tinubu appeared at Chatham House in early December, he was criticised for reading from a teleprompter and inviting his team members to answer questions.

But the claim that Obi used a teleprompter at Chatham House is false.

Digital addition of teleprompter

Using a keyword search for “Peter Obi Chatham House speech”, AFP Fact Check found footage of his speech showing there was no teleprompter on either side of the podium.

A screenshot of the video of Peter Obi at Chatham House, taken January 27, 2023

An Obi supporter responded to the misleading tweet with another video with a broader angle, which again confirms the absence of teleprompters next to Obi.

A screenshot of a tweet with a video of Obi’s speech at Chatham House, taken on January 27, 2023

Additionally, in the false image, there are clear signs of digital editing around the teleprompter, including a “halo edge” – a band of lighter-coloured pixels – around its stand.

A screenshot of the doctored image, taken January 27, 2023. The yellow circle is from the false post; the red circle was added by AFP Fact Check to highlight traces of editing around the stand

Candidates’ health questioned

The health of candidates is a sensitive topic in Nigeria, especially after President Buhari spent months away for treatment in his first term. In 2010, President Umaru Yar'Adua died in office after a long illness.

The contenders are being scrutinised for any indication that they are not fit for office.

AFP Fact Check has debunked multiple false claims on the topic, including about Obi’s main rivals Tinubu and the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Disinformation has dogged campaigning ahead of next month’s polls.

AFP verified another claim, in which Obi’s image was falsely associated with the PDP logo ahead of February’s elections.

See here for our full election-related coverage.

Nigeria elections 2023