A selfie of a Nigerian businessman was taken at a book launch weeks before he was detained on corruption charges


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A selfie of Nigerian businessman Obi Cubana with a group of people, including men in uniform, has been widely shared online. The posts allege that it shows Cubana posing with officials from the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after he was released from custody by the anti-corruption agency. But the claim is false: the photo was taken weeks before Cubana was arrested on money laundering allegations. The EFCC also dismissed the claim as false.

“‘EFCC?’ the crew pose for a quick photo with billionaire socialite and businessman Obi Cubana (sic),” reads the caption on one of the Facebook messages posted next to the image.

It had already been shared more than 120 times just four hours after its publication on November 5, 2021.

Screenshot taken on November 5, 2021, showing the fake Facebook post

The photo was uploaded shortly after Legit NG published the same image on the social network with credit to Cubana on Instagram. The news outlet is the most visited national news site in Nigeria, according to Alexa website traffic rankings.

“After three nights in EFCC custody, Obi Cubana regains freedom,” the caption read, leading some netizens to believe that the image was in fact taken in EFCC custody.

Screenshot taken November 5, 2021, showing some of the comments on Legit’s post

EFCC stopped Cubana for alleged money laundering and tax evasion on November 1, 2021, less than four months after his mother’s funeral which has become a major talking point in Nigeria.

But there is no evidence that EFCC officials posed with the business tycoon after he freedom found from anti-corruption custody on 4 November.

Book launch photo

AFP Fact Check scoured Cubana’s Instagram page and find that the businessman uploaded the image to the social network on October 7, 2021 — more than three weeks before his detention.

“Beautiful faces / people we met today!” Cubana captioned the picture, which shows him in a white outfit smiling at the camera. According to the job location tag, she was taken from the Nigerian Army Resource Center IFPO Certification Training in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

The location matches the details of a report by the Nigerian daily Vanguard about a book launch attended by Cubana and other dignitaries in Abuja.

Plus, Cubana too published a music video showing him speaking at the event in the same outfit.

“Had a presentation/book launch this morning at the Nigerian Army Resource Center in Abuja,” reads the caption for the footage. “Congratulations Col. COObasi for this beautiful piece.”

The EFCC also dismissed the claim that the photo shows Cubana posing with anti-corruption officials as fake.

“The caption is as fake as any fake news because at no time during his ongoing investigation, detention or release has Obi Cubana posed for photos with EFCC staff,” EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told AFP.

Uwujaren said the false claim could be attributed to the social media account of Sabi Radio, “who first went to town with the fake news at 1:06 p.m. on November 5, 2021. The Sabiradio watermark is telling in the photo.”

Message from Sabi Radio, archived herehas since been taken offline.

However, using social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, AFP Fact Check discovered that the allegation had circulated even earlier than this post.

For example, this Tweeter released at 11:52 a.m. local time, features the same image and claim.

Screenshot taken on November 5, 2021, showing the fake tweet

The EFCC said it “would not hesitate to take urgent action to address this and other misinformation”.

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