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No evidence Nigeria’s secret police arrested opposition leader Aisha Yesufu

IN SHORT: Facebook posts from February 2024 claim that Nigeria’s secret police have arrested Aisha Yesufu, a leading opposition voice, days after she criticised president Bola Tinubu and the security agency. But we found no proof to support this claim.

A Facebook post claims that officers of Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) have arrested Aisha Yesufu, a vocal opposition leader and critic of president Bola Tinubu.

“Just In: Aisha Yesufu Arrested By DSS on The Order Of Tinubu For Discriminatory Words Against The President. The DSS has just arrested media influencer Aisha Yesufu for denying Tinubu as her president and claiming the president was rigged into Office,” reads the 18 February 2024 post.

The DSS, known as the country’s secret police, is a government agency that handles internal security.

Yesufu rose to prominence in Nigeria as an activist, particularly for her leading role in the #BringBackOurGirls and #EndSARS protests. 

She joined the campaign of Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 election, and led his fundraising team. She has become one of Tinubu’s most vocal critics. 

Supporters of the president and the ruling party have criticised Yesufu for saying Nigeria has no president and for calling Tinubu an illegitimate president.

In early February 2024, Yesufu dared the DSS to arrest her after some Nigerians warned that the agency could arrest her for her comments.

The DSS has a history of arresting or questioning those who criticise the government.

We found the same claim here, here, here and here. It also appears in the captions of two videos here and here.

But has the secret police arrested Yesufu? We checked.


No evidence of arrest  

Given Yesufu’s popularity, it is unlikely that her arrest by the DSS would go unreported by the mainstream media. But we found no such reports from credible media houses.

Yesufu was at a press conference on 15 February where she gave a breakdown of donations to Obi’s presidential campaign and how they were spent.

She has remained active on social media, especially X (formerly Twitter), and continued to post several times a day, sometimes critically of the government.

There is no evidence that the DSS has arrested Yesufu. The claim is false.

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