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CDD Fact-Check Report_Is Buhari’s 4 + 4 Gesture an Islamist Sign?

CDD Fact-Check Report

FACT CHECK: Is Buhari’s 4 + 4 Gesture an Islamist Sign?

A viral WhatsApp message suggesting a link between President Muhammadu Buhari, 4 + 4 gesture and the RABIA sign is in circulation. The message also warns Christians of a proposed Islamisation of Nigeria.  The RABIA sign was alleged to have been first made by the President during the budget presentation in the National Assembly.

The sign, according to the WhatsApp message, is an Islamist sign of defiance and intolerance first brought to the political arena by Muhammed Morsi.

The Claim

“But more than anything else, the so-called 4 plus 4 sign exposes something more terrible than many non-Muslim Nigerians hardly know about or are probably too dense to seek knowledge about. The sign was first made – finally, I might say, in the Hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly a few days ago by President Buhari. It is known as the RABIA sign, an Islamic sign of defiance and intolerance first brought to the political arena by Muhammed Morsi,” the message read.

The message further claimed that the Turkish President Erdogon has since adopted the message.

“The RABIA sign has since been adopted in Turkey by President Erdogan, who has been working hard to foist a one-party state in the country in the last few years,” it said.

The message further claimed that the sign had been ban across Europe and warned Nigerians of the religious undertone.

” Those celebrating President Buhari’s display of the RABIA sign are in two categories. Buhari obviously intended to energise one of these categories who have a clear knowledge of its religious significance. The other category is carried away in the thought that the sign represents a call for support for four more years added to the first four years of Buhari’s presidency. I wish they knew better especially the non-Muslim segment of this category of persons,” it read.

What is the Rabia sign?

Centre for Democracy and Development’s fact checkers decided to investigate the Rabia sign and the claims made by the message. The following are what we found:

The Rabia sign is named after the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt when members of the outlaw Muslim Brotherhood affiliates held a sit-in after the removal of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. The square is named after the Muslim saint Rabia Al-Adawiyya. The name Rabia in Arabic means ‘fourth’ hence the four-fingered hand gesture.

The Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan adopted the sign since 2013, following the toppling of the government of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian military as a protest against the Egyptian regime. Mr Erdogan is believed to have a strong link with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

What is the connection between Buhari’s 4+4 hand gesture and the Brotherhood’s Rabia sign?

There is no evidence that the Rabia sign has any link with the Buhari 4+4 gesture. While the Rabia sign is a one hand signal of four fingers, the Buhari 4+4 gesture is a two-hand signal.

Also, Buhari is not known to have any link with the Muslim Brotherhood. And there is a plausible explanation for Buhari’s 4+4 gesture. It is a clear suggestion of the president’s confidence in being reelected for a final four-year term.


The suggestion that Buhari was making an Islamist gesture with his 4 +4 gesture is at best unproven and most likely false.

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Idayat Hassan


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