This analysis of the available online records clearly reveals a pre-meditated attempt to hoodwink the unsuspecting masses and cause disaffection and ill-will among brothers who should be searching for ways to bridge the divide between them and reconcile their differences, so as to co-habit peacefully and to contribute to African and world development.
Did the African Union Observe a Minute Silence for the Departed Buhari?
In the said broadcast of November 10, 2018, the IPOB “leader” asserted that: “African Union held a meeting in Addis Ababa on the 2nd of February 2017 – true or false? At that meeting a minute silence was observed for the departed Buhari. AU minutes are there to authenticate his information but I know that the corruption machinery will swing into gear to erase every trace of that in the coming days.”
Before we analyse this statement of the IPOB leader, let us first discover the source of the information about the African Union’s one minute silence for the Nigerian president. Even though, he mentions the AU minutes in an attempt to appear authentic, by the time one looks at genuine AU procedure and documents, one would realise that the reference to the African Union minutes was a slip that reveals ignorance about the workings of the continental organisation.
The first online record of the news of the purported one minute silence observed by the African Union for the president was on January 30, 2017 by one of the sites involved in spreading the news of the president’s alleged death and condolence message from the Queen – the naijanewsplus.com. (I must give prior warning that the website has a semblance of a pornographic site and is not user friendly for very sensitive or underaged persons).
The publication reads: “African Union Heads of State and Government have observed a minutes’ silence in the memory of late Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday during the 28th ordinary session of AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the official opening session of the AU Summit, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, the incumbent AU President, invited the African leaders to ovserve (sic) a minute’s silence in the memory of “our late brother,” the NIgeria (sic) President Muhammadu Buhari. African leaders have gathered in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, to attend the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union(AU). The Summit, which is to take place from 30th to 31st January, will be preceded by a meeting of the Executive Council.”
This post was republished on February 13, 2017. A few other blogs, some of which are not available online anymore, also carried the same news.
As a related issue, we need to point out that both naijanewsplus.com and the emmatechworldpress.com were the two websites that carried the news about Jacob Zuma’s condolence message to Nigerians about the death of the president. These articles appeared published on the February 5, 2017 and here published on the February 10, 2017.
Both articles read: “In a message addressed to the Nigerians, On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma condoled with US on sad demise of the late iconic leader, Muhammadu Buhari. He conveyed a message of condolences to the Government and people of the Federative Republic of Nigeria, especially the families, friends and colleagues of the 74yr old Nigerian President who died in an Undisclosed London Hospital IN THE EARLY HOURS OF TODAY.”
Yet, the second article added the following paragraph, after the above paragraph, in order to create a semblance of being different (without knowing how to edit out the phrase IN THE EARLY HOURS OF TODAY, since he was publishing on a different day from the original post).
“As condolence messages keeps (sic) coming in, lets (sic) keep believing our leaders who said that President Buhari is hale and hearty, and await his return. Lets (sic) not equally relent in praying for him Just incase”.
First, the underlined word “US” reveals that the two sites that carried this news are owned by Nigerians (the last paragraph added to the emmatechworldpress.com article is even more explicit about this identification as a Nigerian), who were not sufficiently professional to hide their interest in the subject matter of their propaganda and misinformation.
You may also wish to observe that both articles alleged that the president “died in an undisclosed London Hospital in the early hours of today”, which meant that the president purportedly died in the early hours of February 5, 2017 and yet again in the early hours of February 10, 2017. This is without prejudice to MRRational Laughter, who alleged on January 21, 2017 here that the president had died in a London Hospital or Eric Joyce who alleged that the president died on May 19, 2017.
This is to show the shoddy and careless way the conspirators in this macabre dance carried out their nefarious activities and attempts to sell the narrative of the president’s ostensible death. I am almost certain that the conspirators did not raise condolence messages because they considered that confirming the authenticity of that particular information would not be so difficult as South Africa is just a stone’s throw away.
Establishing that the same website and blog that carried this “news” of the one minute silence was also involved in another shoddy attempt to misinform and tamper with the integrity of a country’s president should be sufficient to raise doubts about the genuineness of their report concerning the African Union, but we must still buttress the fact of their malfeasance by looking at the authoritative sources and documents of the African Union, especially in the light of the usual excuse of these elements to bamboozle gullible followers. The excuse of the manipulators is reflected in the IPOB leader’s assertion that: “AU minutes are there to authenticate his information but I know that the corruption machinery will swing into gear to erase every trace of that in the coming days.”
First, the African Union has a website whose home page is where one can find authentic information about its activities. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the supreme organ of the Union and it is composed of Heads of State and Government or their duly accredited representatives. According to Article 3(6) of the Constitutive Act of the AU, “The Assembly shall meet at least once a year in ordinary session. At the request of any Member State and on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Member States, the Assembly shall meet in extraordinary session.” The meeting of the Assembly in January 2017 was the 28th Ordinary session slated to run from January 22-31, 2017. According to page 2 of the Protocol and Administrative Guide for the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, which outlined the dates and venues of the main meetings, the Ordinary Session of the Assembly was held at the Nelson Mandela Hall from January 30 – 31 (as correctly reported by the naijaplusnews.com and emmatehworldpress.com) and not on February 2, as asserted by the IPOB leader in his broadcast.
Every session of the Assembly of the Union is properly documented in the form of press releases, and records of decisions and resolutions of the assembly, speeches made at the meetings, photos taken at the event, recorded videos, etc. There is no document made available to the Public called “the AU minutes” with regard to which “the corruption machinery will swing into gear to erase every trace of that in the coming days”, as alleged by the IPOB leader. The African Union Commission, another organ of the AU, maintains a Flickr page with pictures of past events and it was interesting to find there Press Release No 24 for the 24th Session, which reported the one minute silence observed in the memory of the late Zambian president thus: “New Zambian President Mr Edgar Lungu thanked the African Union for supporting his country through the death of Mr Michael Sata in October 2014 and the subsequent elections that ushered him into power…The late Zambian President meanwhile was honoured by his colleagues and other delegates by a one minute silence in his memory.”
It is my fervent desire that many of these youth who have been held captive by the rantings of demagogues, may thoughtfully peruse the facts laid out here and realise that their so called saviours are simply mortgaging their destinies and future for their own private interests.
You may also wish to know that at the last when the YouTube Channel of the African Union Commission was visited, the video of the opening ceremony of the 28th Session had not yet been uploaded, and the site is updated from time to time at the discretion of the Commission.
All the speeches made at the 28th summit are available here and of paramount importance is the speech of the Chadian president, in French, at the opening ceremony. Any reference to a minute silence would have been included in that speech but one may seek out anyone literate in French to translate this speech to confirm whether it contains any portion involving a call by the president of Chad for fellow Heads of State to observe a minute’s silence for “our late brother” as reported by both websites.
More conclusively, the press release for the 28th Summit, which summarises all the events that took place at the opening of the Ordinary session, contains no information whatsoever with regard to the call to observe a one minute silence for the Nigerian president.
One may wish to note that whereas the reports of the naijanewsplus.com and emmatechworldpress.com, which are in ignorance of events at the AU, referred to the Chadian president as the “Incumbent AU President”, the Official AU Press Release referred to him as the outgoing chairperson of the Union thus: “…the outgoing Chairperson of the Union, President Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad declared open the official ceremony of the 28th AU summit before handing over the baton of command to the newly elected Chairperson of the African Union, H.E Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea…”
The owners of the blog made this error for two reasons: First, they were copying an earlier post made by another website in 2016 (to be soon seen); second, they were ignorant of the fact that the Chadian president had completed his tenure as chairperson of the Assembly of Head of States of the Union.
If one still wishes to make further enquiries on this issue, the Press Release also provides the name, phone number and e-mail address of the head of the Information Division of the African Union Commission, who can be contacted for further enquiries or confirmation.
It is rather interesting to note that the language in which the report of the two websites were couched was lifted from an earlier post by the Sahara Press Service, a public service of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, published on their websites on July 18, 2016, which reported that the African Union heads of state and government had observed a minute’s silence in the memory of late Sahrawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz, during the 27th ordinary session of the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The report was couched as follows: “During the official opening session of the AU Summit, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, the incumbent AU President, invited the African leaders to observe a minute’s silence in the memory of “our late brother,” the Sahrawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz.”
This is exactly the same words reproduced by the two sites who carried the news of the one minute silence, with the only changes being in name of the purtodely late president and his country.
Similar to the story of the condolence message by the queen, in the case of the alleged call of a one-minute silence by the African Union, we also see a website which, for all intents and purposes, can pass for a pornographic site and a blog page that is so unprofessional in its copy-and-paste jobs, being the primary conduits for spreading such misinformation of monumental proportions. We see the attempt to use the name and personality of the past president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma to clothe this deception, with a semblance of authority, and then the attempt to pervert the records of events at the African Union Summit. The IPOB leader, relying on their shoddy work, has then gone ahead to subtly imply that the entire 55 African presidents and heads of state are privy to the conspiracy to keep the fact of the death of the Nigerian president hidden and so will permit the instruments of corruption to wipe out every record of the purported one-minute silence from the imaginary minutes of the African Union. Apart from the inference that can be drawn from the character of the website used to circulate this misinformation and its complicity in another attempt to circulate lies, the official documents of the AU referred to above have exposed the fraud inherent in these allegations.
This analysis of the available online records clearly reveals a pre-meditated attempt to hoodwink the unsuspecting masses and cause disaffection and ill-will among brothers who should be searching for ways to bridge the divide between them and reconcile their differences, so as to co-habit peacefully and to contribute to African and world development. This can also be interpreted as an attempt to portray the continent in a bad light as that of gullible and foolish persons, both at the leadership and followership levels, and thereby giving credence to the slur of the IPOB leader, who has the effrontery to say that: “We Africans are stupid beyond stupidity”.
It would have been comical if not for the seriousness of the deliberate attempt to corrupt international institutions like the African Union and the Royal Family, to poison the minds of ignorant and gullible people who are ready to take up arms based on half-truths, misrepresentations and outright falsehood (witness the increasing levels of social unrest in Eastern Nigeria like in Nnewi and the Catholic Church in Aba).
There are many other issues in the said broadcasts that are fabricated and for which there are still available computer records to show their falsity. However, it is not the intention to afflict readers with word for word scrutiny of the claims contained in the broadcast but rather to show that the entire superstructure of this bogus tale rests on a faulty foundation of lies and deception. I have done that and can now rest my case.
It is my fervent desire that many of these youth who have been held captive by the rantings of demagogues, may thoughtfully peruse the facts laid out here and realise that their so called saviours are simply mortgaging their destinies and future for their own private interests. For those who lead you, to resort to fabricating lies in order to keep you dedicated to their cause, shows that they do not have your good interest at heart but only want you as foot soldiers to do their dirty jobs for them.
A WORD IS ENOUGH FOR THE WISE BUT THE FOOLISH DESPISE INSTRUCTIONS.
Nonso Robert Attoh is a law lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.