Claim: A video shared on Twitter claims to show a collection of Sport Utility Vehicles recently acquired by members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Verdict: Misleading. Findings show that the video was not shot recently and there is no proof supporting the claim that the cars were bought by federal legislators.
A Twitter user, Miz Cazorla (@MizCazorla1), on Tuesday shared a video which she said showed Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) recently bought by federal lawmakers are waiting to be distributed.
“SUVs for senators and house of rep members ready for distribution in a country where ASUU has been on strike for close [to] one year and budget for education is less than 10%,” she tweeted, failing to specify when the video was shot.
Speaking in Hausa, the person who recorded the video said: “If these cars are in your house, you will be in trouble. All EFCC [Economic and Financial Crimes Commission] officers in Nigeria will storm your house, wallahi.” The person he was addressing replied that that was not possible.
The tweet was liked by over 730 Twitter users and shared well over a thousand times as of Wednesday, November 25. A screen recording has also been shared on WhatsApp.
Comments showed many people who saw the video believed it to have been shot recently. “Where is this place, we need to visit,” wrote one Isaac Esonotu.
Another person commented, “Just imagine how heartless dis Senators and House of rep members are. The Economy is crashing, ASUU is on strike, insecurity is on the raise [sic] and hunger is the order of the day. They await to share dis cars among themselves. Dis is the more reason why #sorosoke we raise [sic].”
“If our senators and House of Reps members mean well for this nation, they should reject this SUV and ask the money to be channelled to ASUU in order to resolve this strike,” replied Jonah to the same tweet.
Using InVID, a video verification tool, and the Google Reverse Image search, HumAngle traced the video to posts shared as far back as July 2020.
On July 11, Weka Wazi Fikra Zako, Tanzanian-based platform on Facebook, shared a screenshot from the video, with a caption in Swahili: “All Nigerian MPs [Members of Parliament] are given a Lexus LX 570 car. This kind of car cost 30 million naira. These cars are from the resources of the nation which belong to all Nigerians, it is amazing to see MPs using expensive cars representing weak citizens in the country.”
According to a publication by Nkiruka Nistoran, eyewitness reports stated that the cars were set to be distributed that week. “Their delivery was delayed by the transition of a new clark [sic.] of the National Assembly,” the blog claimed, adding that the cars were worth N50 billion.
Though some have claimed that the cars in the video belonged to an automobile dealer, there is no conclusive evidence to either substantiate or refute this. The place in the cars were located in the video is apparently different from the parking lot at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja. The tight manner in which the cars are parked also suggests they were still in the custody of a dealer.
Meanwhile, there have been no credible reports of plans to purchase new cars by the federal lawmakers in the second half of 2020. In 2016, the Senate confirmed buying 36 SUVs (one per state) for N36.5 million each after news spread that it purchased 108. In 2019, the upper legislative chamber again planned to spend N5.5 billion in getting an SUV for each of its members. “What is the problem there? It is an insult to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria. It is an insult,” said Senate leader Yahaya Abdullahi.
In March, members of the House of Representatives were reported to have taken delivery of units of Toyota Camry 2020 model cars, whose prices were not disclosed. The house, however, described the report as “clear falsehood” shortly afterwards.
The claim is misleading as the video has been circulated on the Internet since at least July 2020, over four months ago.
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