By: Sam Doak
March 3 2023
This photograph shows Fashola viewing an NGO's website, not systems operated by INEC.
The Nigerian elections were held on February 25. According to official results, the All Progressives Congress candidate Bola Tinubu won the presidential election after garnering just over a third of all votes. Since Tinubu's victory was announced, opposition parties have called for a repeat of the election, citing alleged irregularities at polling locations and in the collation of results.
In this context, numerous dubious claims have circulated online concerning the integrity of the general elections. One that has spread widely in recent days concerns a photograph of Babatunde Fashola, Nigeria's Federal Minister of Works and Housing. The image shows Fashola in front of a computer displaying election results. This has been interpreted as evidence that Fashola had access to computer servers maintained by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
One Twitter user summarized these concerns in a post that includes this photo, stating, "Someone please ask Fashola how he got access to this server that has the election result data. INEC and APC rigged the election even before it started. They should come out and defend this."
This tweet was shared over 16,000 times and liked by more than 35,000 Twitter users. Variations of this claim have appeared on other social networks, including Facebook.
A reverse image search reveals that the photo in question first appeared on the Instagram account of Lukman Olaonipekun, Babatunde Fashola's official photographer. The original caption provides context, reading, "Fashola glued to the screen as INEC results trickle in, at the APC National Situation Room in Abuja on Monday, 27th February 2023." Further photographs available on Twitter confirm that the photo was taken in the election situation room, as stated by Olaonipekun.
INEC does not own or maintain the website displayed in this photograph. On inspection, its URL is readable as "liveresults.civichive.org/presidential/2023." This leads to a results viewing portal maintained by Civic Hive, a Nigerian NGO that aims to "champion new methods of civic engagement through the use of technology, stimulate citizens' interests around public data and trigger discussions towards better governance." Crucially, the webpage shown in this photo only allows users to view announced election results. It is not capable of altering results, and it is not maintained by INEC, as claimed.
This photograph does not show Babatunde Fashola accessing official results on a server maintained by INEC. The website shown is maintained by a local NGO. It allows viewers to view official results across the country, but cannot be used to alter them. This claim has therefore been marked as false.