On Sunday, October 22, 2023, a group called Arewa APC Vanguard issued a statement in Kaduna, signed by its chairman Comrade Jonathan Audu, where it “condemned” Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal for asking President Bola Tinubu’s “resignation” over the president’s certificate case pending before the Supreme Court in a 2023 presidential elections appeal filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
— BACKGROUND —
The Arewa APC Vanguard’s statement, which was used by some sections of mostly online newspapers on Sunday, was coming on the heels of “fresh evidence” Mr Atiku claimed he had obtained from Chicago State University (CSU) on Mr Tinubu’s academic records which he tendered before Nigeria’s apex court, seeking Tinubu’s disqualification and subsequent removal from office. It was on record that Mr Atiku had asked President Tinubu to resign after he got the “fresh evidence” from CSU through a court order.
— CLAIM —
The Arewa APC Vanguard, in its statement. described Governor Lawal’s action as “contempt of court, malicious, provocative, and destructive.”
The story reads: “The Arewa APC Vanguard, under the Chairmanship of Comrade Jonathan Audu, has condemned the call made by Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal, calling for the resignation of President Bola Tinubu, over the issue of his certificate which is before the Supreme Court.
“The group described Governor Dauda Lawal’s action as contempt of court.
“It also described the call by the Governor as malicious, provocative, and destructive.
“In the statement, Comrade Jonathan described the governor as a puppet of some Cabals of the former administration, and is executing their bidding to distract President Tinubu on his good works.”
— VERIFICATION —
In order to verify this claim, this newspaper tried to obtain the original statement issued and signed by the Arewa APC Vanguard, which was the source of the story published by some online platforms on Sunday evening. However, this newspaper couldn’t get the original statement issued by the group.
Our correspondents tried to reach out to the Chairman of the group, Comrade Jonathan Audu, who signed the statement according to the published stories. Checks with journalists in Kaduna, where the purported statement was allegedly released, couldn’t yield any tangible result as no journalist could confirm receiving any statement by the said group or from Comrade Audu.
Our reporters deployed open search tools to see whether the group has a registration with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) or any office, website, contact, or physical address. The results from the online searches were all negative.
The Arewa APC Vanguard, it was found, had first appeared online on Sunday, October 22, 2023 at around 3:22pm when the statement was first uploaded online. Prior to this time, there was no mention of the organization online or anywhere.
This newspaper’s fact-check team has tried checking the identity of Comrade Jonathan Audu through online tools. Like the group he purportedly represents, there was no name matching his online before 3:22pm of October 22, 2023. He has no social media or any virtual identity nor any virtual or physical address or phone number.
Our reporters dug further to unveil the source of the press statement. Online trails revealed that the Arewa APC Vanguard’s seven-paragraph press statement was originated from Mr Ibrahim Dosara, a former Zamfara State Commissioner of Information and Home Affairs under Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle. Further findings revealed that it was Mr Dosara who first published the statement in a WhatsApp group under the title “Re: Gov Dauda Lawal Dare’s call for president Tinubu’s Resignation — Arewa APC vanguard sends Warning to Zamfara Gov.” at exactly 3:22pm on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Also, checks of timelines of all the newspapers that published the statement did so after the time Mr Dosara posted the story on the WhatsApp group. This means that none of the newspapers had first hand access to Comrade Audu.
This newspaper also searched both print and online newspapers, radio and television clips as well as YouTube with a view to obtain a audio, video footage or official statement where Governor Lawal seen asking Mr Tinubu to resign. But none was found.
Lastly, our reporters reached out to Governor Lawal’s Spokesperson Suleman Bala Idris to establish whether his principal had actually asked Mr Tinubu to resign and when, over his academic records case. Mr Idris said there was no time Governor Lawal asked President Tinubu to resign, in private or in public, over the CSU certificate scandal.
He said, “the story was a poor work of fiction by some desperate elements working for the defeated former Zamfara governor. Having lost the battle electorally, legally and morally, these desperadoes want to drag President Tinubu’s name into their hare-brained plot. After failing in all fronts, they want President Tinubu to come to their aid by fighting Governor Dauda Lawal. They are trying to incite the president against the governor. This too shall fail like the previous blackmail and machinations.”
The governor’s spokesperson said “Governor Lawal runs a public-centric transparent administration in Zamfara State. Governor Lawal has carved a niche for himself in making his mind open without fear or favour. For instance, when some federal elements sneaked into Zamfara state and started negotiating with bandits, we boldly drew the attention of Mr President to them. When they tried to deny it, we made our facts public through official communication channels. We don’t hide anything.”
— VERDICT —
After thorough search by our fact-check team members, it has been established beyond doubt that the Arewa APC Vanguard and its chairman are both fictitious, and their claim that Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State had asked President Bola Tinubu to resign from office over the certificate case pending at the Supreme Court is found to be FALSE, MISCHIEVOUS and MISLEADING.