A deepfake audio recording has emerged, implicating the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, along with other party members, including Okowa and Tambuwal, in an alleged plot to rig the upcoming February 25th elections.
The audio, which is 3 minutes and 29 seconds long, surfaced on Friday morning and has caused widespread concern among Nigerians.
The audio, which is currently being shared via Whatsapp and can be found here, reportedly features the voices of Atiku Abubakar, Okowa, and Tambuwal, as they discuss how they intend to rig the election in their favor by bribing officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The audio recording, according to Artificial Intelligence experts, is believed to have been doctored to make it seem like it was a genuine conversation among the political figures.
While the audio, in some quarters, is causing outrage among citizens and political stakeholders, with many calling for an investigation into the matter.
The PDP may have to issue a statement clearing its name in any involvement in the alleged plot to rig the election.
Experts noted that deepfakes as this may be produced by unknown group in an attempt to tarnish the party’s image and reputation, or simply cause unrest amongst citizens.
Politics in the face of digital manipulation
The emergence of deepfake audio recordings highlights the growing threat of digital manipulation in politics and underscores the need for vigilance in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.
It is not enough to douse off tension in the face of this gross misconduct, authorities are expected to investigate the matter thoroughly to ascertain its veracity and take appropriate action to ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair.
Find full transcript of the audio below:
ATIKU: There will be need to bring in the INEC
OKOWA: There will be need to interface with INEC and not create suspicion
TAMBUWAL: For me to accept to go into this, let us strategize and discuss the arrangement and how it can be achieved.
ATIKU: Tambuwal, that’s why we are meeting. Let us sit down and find any other technology that may be used to make sure we emerge. We have to look for a way to find loopholes.
OKOWA: We are going to provide for the INEC officials starting from the polling units through to the ward collation centers and I just hope that we are going to find a way to rig the elections. This is the best time.
ATIKU: It is not enough. First of all, you give money to the state INEC. There will be need to bring in the INEC and also make sure they don’t use BVAS. We have seen what the use caused in Osun. Atiku Abubakar, I am with you on this one.
OKOWA: And you also supervise to make sure we use the central bank. We must find a way to get them out of power.
TAMBUWAL: It will be extremely difficult in a way. You see, it depends on certain fundamental indices. If Nigerians are having only two options clearly from two regions, then one of them will be.
The numbers will count in this case and we all know the voting strength of each bloc in this country.
OKOWA: It is obviously a major issue. We should look at the things that will bring us result. We must also look at the process that makes one of our best to be president.
TAMBUWAL: I don’t like mistakes. I have won my elections 5 times consecutively. You all know that I have the support of my home base but it is not about me. It is about Atiku Abubakar and making him president.
OKOWA: We cannot act in disregard of normal rule. We must give INEC money to run their normal processes on their own. They must mobilize their people for the purpose of the election. That is going to make a stronger impact. Not the way we are going through.
ATIKU: What are those areas that will be difficult to win in the elections
OKOWA: The INEC officials need to take instructions from the PDP agents and there is no doubt about the process. They will be good enough that is not questionable.
TAMBUWAL: Are you sure that this time we can win the elections?
OKOWA: YES! It must be done in such a way that it is skewed towards the PDP.
TAMBUWAL: Even with BVAS?
OKOWA: Yes, it is just a question of trying.
Atiku reacts to deepfake audio
Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has reacted to the circulating audio, urging Nigerians to ignore what he described as ‘utter rubbish.’
This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu.
Read statement in part:
“We warned last week that as the election approaches, there will be a spike in the rate of propaganda on social media. With barely 24 hours to the poll, we have witnessed propaganda from not just the All Progressives Congress but the Labour Party as well.
“In this latest drivel, a montage of speeches delivered by Atiku, Tambuwal, and Okowa since last year were manipulated and pieced together to give an impression that they were discussing plans to rig Saturday’s election. In this age of artificial intelligence technology, even dead people can be portrayed as delivering speeches. This is nothing new.
“For the record, Atiku has run in two presidential elections and has never been indicted or prosecuted for election violence or vote buying.
“But some people think they can sell a narrative of Atiku manipulating this election. This is indeed the height of desperation, the last kick of a dying horse. The APC and the Labour Party must note that elections are not won on social media but at the polling units.
“It is unfortunate that those seeking power will engage in outdated defeatist tactics. How can Tambuwal be referring to Atiku by his full name in a one-on-one private conversation?
“When they descend to the level of baseless propaganda, we will rise above it with dignity and respond with our PVCs. This election is a watershed in Nigerian history. Nigerians must not lose sight of what is most important, which is the need to rebuild this broken system, revitalize the economy, and improve security and the hope of the people in a united Nigeria.
The party, in the statement, further asked authorities to go after people behind the audio tape in line with Section 123(c) of the Electoral Act which provides that “any person who before or during an election publishes any statement to the personal character or conduct of a candidate calculated to prejudice the chance of election of the candidate or to promote or procure the election of another candidate and such statement is false and was published without reasonable grounds for belief by the person publishing it that the statement is true, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a maximum of N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.”