Claim: A video on social media shows the Nigerian President criticizing the BBC for a documentary about the late televangelist TB Joshua.
Verdict: The video shared by Facebook users is digitally manipulated to give a misleading impression.
Several Facebook users have shared a video allegedly depicting Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu condemning a documentary about prominent televangelist TB Joshua.
The pastor, who passed away in June 2021, was an evangelist and founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), located in Ikotun, Lagos.
In January 2024, the British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, released a three-episode documentary about the pastor, which features testimonies from former church members alleging torture, manipulation, and sexual assault.
Mixed reactions have since followed the release of the documentary about the late prophet, including questions as to why the clip was released nearly 3 years after his death.
Amid this furore, a video featuring the Nigerian President supposedly condemning the documentary has joined the fray. The clip, interspersed with footage of the late televangelist, shows Tinubu speaking while a voice-over says:
“I, the president of Nigeria, reject every documentary and evidence made by the BBC against our noble prophet. Prophet TB Joshua was a good man, and he brought so many foreigners into Lagos while I was the governor. They hate him because he is from a black country.”
In the wake of the release of the doctored clip, several users have shared the video on their accounts, as gleaned during our investigation. Furthermore, we noticed discrepancies between the audio and the clip, and so we sought to verify the veracity of the statement.
We uploaded the video to InVID, a video verification tool used to assess the reliability of online videos. The tool parses the video into keyframes and searches for similar videos.
Our search led us to a video of president’s New Year’s address published on the YouTube channel of TVC News. Clips from the circulating video on social media appear to have been culled from this speech. In the clip, the president is dressed in the same fashion as in the false clip; however, at no point does he mention TB Joshua or the BBC.
Prime Progress dug into coverage of the documentary but didn’t find any mention of Tinubu criticizing the BBC. Also noteworthy is the fact no media outlet references such claims as supposedly made by the president. The audio and video are out of sync, and the pronunciation of certain words, particularly “Lagos” and “Nigeria,” does not match Tinubu’s usual speech patterns.
Digging further into the source of the video clip, Prime Progress consulted Silas Jonathan, an open-source investigation expert with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development.
“The video is undoubtedly a deep fake. I am confident that a thorough examination with appropriate tools will reveal the truth. The rise of AI is responsible for such manipulations. Fortunately, Meta is implementing a policy to detect and sweep out deep fake videos on their platforms,” he explained.
In an era of rapid advancement in artificial intelligence, deepfake technology raises concerns about the authenticity of digital content and its potential for misinformation. A portmanteau of ‘deep learning’ and ‘fake,’ deepfakes are products of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that can convincingly manipulate video and audio content to alter individuals’ appearances, speeches, and actions.
Deepfakes often manipulate existing source content, swapping one person for another or creating entirely new content to make a false impression about people, as in the case involving the claims on Facebook. Perhaps the most significant risk deepfakes pose is their potential for blurring the line between truth and fiction
Claims about Tinubu defending the deceased religious minister, levied with multiple wrongdoings, are results of a technological manipulation known as deepfakes. As such, President Tinubu made no such claims about the BBC’s documentary on TB Joshua.