Operator(s) of @SegunObasanjo, a controversial Twitter handle associated with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, may have to look elsewhere for another deceptive platform. The account has been deactivated from the social networking platform.
Investigation shows that the account, which was still active last weekend, was removed from Twitter on Tuesday.
The Twitter handle rode on the back of the recent political rift between Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan to gain prominence. It enjoyed regular visits by politicians and journalists, who saw it as a useful source of information.
Cashing in on the internal conflict in the Peoples Democratic Party, in which Obasanjo was a key factor, the operator (s) in the account attacked perceived enemies of the former President and responded to their remarks.
A number of the statements credited to Obasanjo, even by some traditional media organisations (PUNCH excluded), were sourced from the fake account.
Indeed, Obasanjo publicly refuted some of the statements posted by the operator(s) and dissociated himself from any existing social media account.
Last weekend, the unknown tweeter(s), who were obviously responding to the reactions that trailed Obasanjo’s exit from PDP, attacked the former Minister of Aviation and Director of Media/Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, describing him as a “wrecker” of democracy.
“Fani-Kayode is a democracy wrecker, who is very fluent in stupidity. Give him food, and he will sing and do ‘shoki’ dance for you,” the tweet said.
But, reacting to the tweet on Monday, Obasanjo reiterated that he was not on Twitter or Facebook having closed the accounts he maintained on the platforms earlier.
“I don’t know where this comes from. I do not have any account on either Facebook or Twitter again. Go and block it,” he warned the unknown operator(s).
He cautioned those using his name to operate illegal social media accounts, saying the security agencies had been placed on the alert to fish out the perpetrators.
He said, “Let me say that nemesis will catch up with anyone doing this. It is illegal and criminal. If I have to pass any message to the good people of Nigeria, I know how to go about it with no controversy.”
The @SegunObasanjo operator(s) may have heeded Obasanjo’s threat to have them arrested by the security agencies if they failed to stop operating the illegal account. But the former President could only pray that other cloned accounts do not enjoy as much popularity the deactivated one.
Some of the existing accounts believed to have been targeted at exploiting his personality are @OlusegunObasnjo, @BabaIyabo, @BabaObasanjo and @Obasanjo. The accounts were opened between 2011 and 2014. Obasanjo’s identity also faces a similar duplication on Facebook.
The former President may not be the only person among past leaders of the country (especially former Heads of State) that is facing the rising identity theft on the new media. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.)’s name also features on different social networking platforms.
One of the Twitter accounts opened in Babangida’s name has gained prominence in recent weeks with bloggers scooping information from the page and attributing it to the retired general.
Even with a clear indication that the handle supposedly operated by Babangida is a “parody account”, notable public figures, including governors, are among its 16,400 followers.
The suspicious account tweets messages almost every hour and takes a critical look at issues that shape political discussion. On Tuesday, it tweeted, “Nigerian journalists are pretenders. They pretend they did not hear about the Ekiti leaked tape, but they are the first to report the speculation on the health of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.”
Operator(s) of the account also took a swipe at Fani-Kayode and the former Minister of State for Defence, Musliu Obanikoro, describing them as “dangerous political prostitutes.”
Online media had recently attributed a tweet on the page, alleging that Fani-Kayode was a taxi driver in the United Kingdom until Obasanjo brought him to Nigeria and “changed his life,” to the former Head of State.
But the ex-minister responded, saying, “From birth, my family has had the best chauffeur-driven cars in the UK and other parts of the world. I hardly used taxis much less drove one.”