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No, pro-Biafra agitation didn’t stop governorship election in Nigeria’s Imo state

IN SHORT: A message circulating on Facebook claims that the governorship election in Nigeria's Imo state was not held because of agitation for the restoration of the state of Biafra in south-eastern Nigeria. This is false.

A message posted on Facebook congratulates “Biafrans” for stopping the governorship election in Imo state in southeastern Nigeria and “delegitimising” the Nigerian government.

The post reads: “Congratulations once again to all the Biafrans people in IMO State BIAFRA Land for successfully delegitimisation of Nigeria in Imo State BIAFRA Land today. Congratulations for stopping elections in Imo State BIAFRA Land. Thank you guys for sitting at home. Thank you guys for choosing #BIAFRA freedom. Congratulations once again, all hail BIAFRA.”

The post includes photos of the Biafran flag, flying alongside other flags in front of a building, and of Simon Ekpa, a pro-Biafra separatist based in Finland.

Biafra was a secessionist state that declared independence from Nigeria in 1967 and was dissolved in 1970 after a 30-month civil war

In the past decade, there have been agitations for the restoration of Biafra in Nigeria’s South-East geopolitical zone, which consists of five states including Imo. 

The agitation has at times been violent with pro-Biafra militants enforcing sit-at-home orders and attacking defaulters. Imo has been the worst hit

The Facebook post was published on 11 November 2023, the day off-cycle governorship elections were held in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states. 

The claim also appears here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But did the pro-Biafra agitation stop the election of the governor of Imo State in November 2023?

False claim about a governorship election disrupted by pro-Biafra agitation

The election was held on 11 November

As part of the Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition, Africa Check monitored the 11 November elections, tracking claims and reports from the three states. We found no credible report of separatists stopping the election in Imo.

Days before the election, a pro-Biafra group, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (Massob), denied allegations that it was planning to disrupt the election in Imo. 

Massob leader Uchenna Madu said in a statement that the group had received intelligence that some impostors threatened to disrupt the governorship election in the name of the group. 

“Nobody can stop the Imo State Governorship Election on November 11, 2023,” read the Massob statement.

The election was held and the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) declared the incumbent and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Hope Uzodinma, the winner of the election. 

Inec’s results portal shows that results from 95.75% of the polling units in Imo were uploaded. This is 4,556 out of 4758 polling units in 27 local government areas of the state. 

Opposition parties claimed the election results were rigged in favour of the incumbent. However, none of them claimed that the election did not take place in the state.

The claim that Biafran separatists stopped the governorship election in Imo state is false.

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