Fact Check: Did Yahaya Bello hire “fake soldiers” for Kogi election as claimed by Dino Melaye?

A picture of four Nigerian soldiers holding up four fingers in each of their hands, posted by the Senator Dino Malaye, has been shared tens of times with a claim that the soldiers are supporters of Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.

This claim is false; the picture is an old picture shared during the general election in February 2019. The picture was first seen on the internet during President Muhammadu Buhari campaign in February.

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On November 15, Melaye posted the same picture on his Twitter handle and claimed the soldiers were supporters of Bello.

“Bello’s fake soldiaers (sic),” he said in the caption accompanying the picture.

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The tweet has been retweeted 146 times and got 896 likes as at report time.

Although, Bello, a member of the APC and an ally of Buhari, used the 4+4 sign during his campaign on many occasions but the soldiers, whose pictures Melaye posted, were not his supporters.

Bello and Aisha Buhari during his campaign.

Reverse search by The NewsNG shows that the picture first appeared on the internet on February 20, 2019 and not during Kogi election as claimed by Melaye.

During Nigeria’s presidential electioneering in February, Buhari, after the first four years, was seeking reelection for another four years and his party, campaign team and supporters quickly adopted the “4+4″ symbol.

Notably, the sign was made popular by Buhari during the presentation of the 2019 budget to the National Assembly at the end of 2018.

The pictured four soldiers were among those who held up the sign in the days leading up to the election in February.

The picture of the soldiers drew the ire of many Nigerians who felt army should be apolitical and hold allegiance to Nigeria and not the president.

The Nigerian Army said it was aware of the soldiers but ” dissociate itself from the pictures of the four armed men dressed in military camouflage doing a 4-by-4 fingers sign connoting a campaign symbol of a political party.”

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