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US general warns Nigeria of ‘consequences’ if Tinubu’s presidential win upheld? No, audio of Australian author’s opinion

IN SHORT: In late October 2023, Nigeria’s supreme court dismissed appeals against president Bola Tinubu’s election. In the run-up, audio of a man warning that such a ruling would have “dire consequences” for the country went viral with the claim he was a general in the US military. But he’s not.

On 26 October 2023, after months of debate, legal battles and social media attention, Nigeria’s supreme court rejected appeals against the election of president Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu won the presidency with roughly 37% of the vote in February. It’s been estimated that just a quarter of the country’s registered voters turned up on election day. He was sworn in in May.

Tinubu was the candidate for the All Progressives Congress, the party of previous Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. His main rivals were Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

After the election, Abubakar and Obi went to court in a series of challenges to Tinubu’s win.

Their cases finally ended in late October with a supreme court ruling that they had “no merit”.

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‘Listen to Major General Gregory Copley’

In the lead-up to the hearing, a claim went viral on social media that the United States had threatened Nigeria with “dire consequences” if its top court didn’t disqualify Tinubu’s election.

One of the posts reads: “U.S Military General allegedly Warns Nigeria Of Dire Consequences If Supreme Court Affirms Bola Tinubu’s Presidency. Listen to Major General Gregory Copley …”

 

 

The claim includes nine-minute audio of a man being interviewed about Tinubu’s election and the subsequent controversy. A photo of the man, presumably Gregory Copley, is shown.

At about the 5:50 minute mark, the man says: “If the supreme court does not overturn this election, there will be serious consequences.”

Another version of the claim reads: “US warns Nigeria's Supreme Court against confirming Tinubu as president.” It shows photos of US president Joe Biden and Tinubu.

Yet another, on the website Boss Newspaper, is an article headlined: “General Gregory Copley Predicts Armageddon in Nigeria.” It’s illustrated with a different photo of the same man.

The claim can also be seen here, here, here, here and here on Facebook, and here on YouTube.

But did a US military general really warn Nigeria of “dire consequences” if its supreme court upheld Tinubu’s victory?

‘Historian, industrialist, philosopher, author and strategic analyst’

Africa Check ran both photos of the man through a Google reverse image search and found that they showed Gregory Copley.

But Copley is not a general in the US military. He has no role in the US government and isn’t even a US citizen.

Instead, he is an author and foreign affairs expert who heads the nongovernmental International Strategic Studies Association (Issa) in the US capital of Washington DC. And he’s a citizen of Australia.

His biography on the Issa website describes him as a “historian, industrialist, philosopher, author and strategic analyst” and says he “retains his domicile in Australia”.

So where does the audio come from?

Clip from the John Batchelor Show

Seconds into the clip, the interviewer identifies himself as John Batchelor. Batchelor is a novelist and talk radio host who headlines the John Batchelor Show in the US.

We googled “Gregory Copley John Batchelor Show”. This led us to the original audio of Batchelor’s interview with Copley, which was posted online on 11 October. At no point was Copley described as a US general.

The audio isn’t of a US general warning Nigeria of dire consequences. It’s that of an Australian author and foreign affairs expert giving his opinion.

There is no evidence that the US has expressed any opinion on the Nigerian supreme court’s decision. In fact, Biden was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Tinubu on his inauguration.

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