TikTok video falsely claims Nigerian governor sacked over dancing

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A TikTok video claimed that a Nigerian court had stripped a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) of his governorship because he had been filmed dancing. But the claim is false: the PDP's Ademola Adeleke was sacked as governor of Osun state over alleged voting irregularities. However, the tribunal’s written decision did include a tongue-in-cheek reference to Adeleke dancing on his first day as governor.

“Why give (sic) Adeleke of Osun State was sacked,” reads the caption of a TikTok video viewed more than 141,000 times since it was published on January 30, 2023.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on February 7, 2023

Osun State held its gubernatorial election in July 2022, and Adeleke was declared the winner by the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A tribunal convened to review the results after Gboyeka Oyetola of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) filed a petition challenging Adeleke’s victory. The court eventually nominated Oyetola as governor.

The TikTok video features a news clip of Adeleke dancing with a caption reading: "See why Gov Adeleke was sacked."

The TikTok user is superimposed on the clip, saying: "So you mean to tell me this is one of the reasons Governor Adeleke… was sacked? Because he danced the Buga lo lo lo?"

"Buga lo lo lo" refers to a song by popular Nigerian singer Kizz Daniel.

INEC is under pressure to ensure the credibility of Nigeria's national election on February 25, 2023. Past ballots have been marred by accusations of widespread fraud.

According to a recent poll from Afrobarometer, only 23 percent of Nigerians trust the electoral body “somewhat” or “a lot,” and several INEC sites have been attacked throughout the country.

But the claim that Adeleke was sacked for dancing is false.

Tribunal documents

Using a keyword search for terms such as "Adeleke Osun State sacked", AFP Fact Check found that the Nigeria-based Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) published a page from the tribunal’s decision in which the majority ruling refers to the Buga dance.

"The 2nd respondent [Adeleke] did not score a majority of lawful votes cast at the election. The declaration and return is hereby declared null and void," it reads.

"The 2nd Respondent [Adeleke] cannot ‘go lo lo lo’ and 'Buga won' as the duly elected Governor of Osun State in the election conducted on the 16th day of July, 2022. See Kizz Daniel song."

AFP Fact Check obtained a copy of the original tribunal ruling from Oyetola’s spokesman, Ismail Omipidan.

A screenshot of an official copy of the tribunal's ruling, taken on February 9, 2023

After reviewing the 116-page document, AFP Fact Check found the same page published on FIJ’s website, including the reference to Adeleke’s dancing.

The court ruling was also published and quoted by several Nigerian news outlets.

While the ruling does refer to the Buga dance as a tongue-in-cheek aside, its full text shows it is not one of the reasons the tribunal voided Adeleke’s election.

Buga lo lo lo

The tribunal’s reference to the Buga dance is likely a reaction to this video showing Adeleke dancing to the Kizz Daniel song on his first day as governor of Osun.

The tribunal chairman’s decision to mock Adeleke in the ruling was criticised by the PDP for being disrespectful and unethical.

The video used in the TikTok post was filmed after the tribunal voted to remove Adeleke from office.

Voting issues

The 2022 Electoral Act introduced technological innovations to make the ballot more resistant to voter fraud, corruption, and tallying errors.

The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, or BVAS, combines biometric and manual voter authentication.

According to INEC, Adeleke had won 403,371 votes to Oyetola’s 375,027 in 2022.

However, the court found there had been overcounting and deducted the unlawful votes. The final result saw Oyetola poll 314,931 votes to Adeleke’s 290,266.

The Osun state elections used BVAS to verify voters’ identities, prompting questions if the system would be able to deliver a credible election on February 25.

Adeleke has rejected the election tribunal’s ruling and signalled that he would appeal the decision. INEC also announced it is asking the Court of Appeals to reverse the judgment.

He will remain in office until the high courts decide on the matter.

Nigeria elections 2023