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Misleading post about Nigeria’s Kaduna state government bribing Muslim clerics to campaign for the ruling party resurfaces online

IN SHORT: Just days before elections for governor across the country, a memo is circulating on social media in Nigeria with the claim that the Kaduna state government has bribed Muslim clerics. But this an outdated document, with a forged signature.

A message circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook in Nigeria suggests the Kaduna state government disbursed N27 million, over US$40,000, to some Muslim clerics ahead of the elections for governor scheduled to be held on 18 March 2023.

Nasir El-Rufai of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is the incumbent governor of Kaduna state in northern Nigeria. In May 2022, he endorsed Uba Sani as his successor.

Sani is senator for Kaduna central senatorial district.

The message reads: “This is an internal memo from the government of Kaduna. Just see how bigotry has eaten deeply within our political system.  using State funds for religious activities contrary to section 10 of the 1999 Constitutional (as amended).”

It includes a screenshot of what appears to be an internal memo from the “office of the director general (interfaith)” and the state secretary’s office. 

The memo’s subject line reads: “DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS TO IMAMS.” 

The memo is dated 4 March 2019 and signed by “Muhammed Musa, director general (Interfaith)”.

It continues: “The SSG may wish to note that in line with the agreed plan of providing logistics support to Imams of Jumat Mosque towards a favourable Friday sermon the Friday preceding the date of the Gubernatorial election.”

But is the memo accurate?

NigeriaMemo_False

Misleading claim and forged signature

The memo is dated 1 March 2019 which makes the post misleading. 

In March 2019, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) accused El-Rufai of bribing Muslim clerics to campaign for the ruling party in mosques across the state. 

Musa responded to the PDP’s accusation then. He said “he isn’t the author of the said document”.  He also told a national newspaper that “at no point in time” did he write the letter.

Musa told Africa Check that his signature was forged in the 2019 viral letter. This is a forged letter and unrelated to the 2023 elections.

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