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CDD Fact-Check Report_How True is Buhari’s Aide’s Tweet on Atiku’s Trip to the US?

CDD Fact-Check Report

FACT CHECK: How True is Buhari’s Aide’s Tweet on Atiku’s Trip to the US?

On Friday, Lauretta Onochie, a social media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, posted a tweet quoting the US Department of African Affairs saying that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, who was visiting the United States after 12 years cannot be arrested because he was travelling under diplomatic cover.

Abubakar, a former Vice President, who was named in a corruption investigation involving a former US congressman, William Jefferson and a bribery scandal involving technology company, Siemen, had not travelled to the United States for 12 years until he did on Thursday.

 The question of whether Abubakar, who is the main opposition candidate, can travel to the US without being arrested or not, became a major election issue after the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) dared him to travel to America to prove he has not been indicted for money laundering.

Abubakar in return said he had applied to travel to the US but was not granted a visa.

On Friday pictures of Abubakar in company of the Senate President Bukola Saraki meeting with Nigerians and a US congressman, Chris Smith, flooded Nigerian cyberspace.

On Friday, Onochie posted a tweet saying:

“This can’t be true! I know Atiku and Saraki are low lives but this low?

“We cannot apprehend Atiku NOW because of our diplomatic ties with Nigeria. He’s booked as an Office Aide to Nigeria’s Senate President” -US Department of African Affairs.

“Atiku has let his followers down.”

The tweet which is still on her timeline at the time of writing this report has so far generated 806 replies, 642 reweets and 863 likes.

The Fact

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) fact-checkers reviewed the tweet to ascertain the veracity of the quote attributed to the US Department of African Affairs.

According to Article II, Section 2, of the US Constitution, the US Presidency is made up of the Office of the Vice President and 15 executive departments namely: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.

The so-called US Department of African Affairs is not one of the departments recognised by the US constitution and therefore does not exist.

However, there is a Bureau of African Affairs (AF) under the Department of States, which is focused on the development and management of U.S policies in Africa.

The Bureau’s job includes strengthening democratic Institutions in Africa; supporting African economic growth and development; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development.

The Bureau is not involved in law enforcement and is not known to have issued a statement in relation to suspected criminal case, which is the case with Abubarkar.

Also, a Google search of the quote attributed to the so-called Department of African Affairs and a perusal of the website of the Bureau for African Affairs did not yield any results or quote similar to the one tweeted by Onochie, which is an indication that it was made up and fake.


Therefore, the quote attributed to the so-called US Department for African Affairs is FALSE.

The so-called Department for African Affairs does not exist and is unrecognized by the US constitution and therefore could not have made the comment attributed to it.


Beware of Fake News. Don’t Peddle it! Don’t Spread it!

The fake news project of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), an independent and non-partisan organization, is to counter electoral misinformation and promote peaceful elections in 2019.


Idayat Hassan


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