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Dated, doctored and false: The facts about viral video purporting Akufo-Addo was caught receiving $40,000 bribe as President

Photo Credit: Bloomberg 13 mins read

Akufo-Addo was caught on video accepting a bribe in 2017 in his capacity as President

Forensic analysis on the viral video shows it to be doctored while a much clearer and full version of the video found reveals the context of the video to be an occasion of a donation of GHS 40,000 and 1000 t-shirts of Akufo-Addo and Bawumia by one Hajia Fawzia given to support Akufo-Addo ahead of the 2016 elections

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A video circulating which has also been turned into a GIF by some social media users is purporting that Pres Akufo-Addo was caught on video receiving a bribe. This has been discussed extensively on mainstream media and social media by the opposition party NDC with the narrative purporting that Akufo-Addo took a USD40,000 bribe in 2017 in his capacity as president, in order not to sack Alhaji Abbas who is the director of Urban Roads.

The said video has a number of conveniently abridged variations, which include one with a Salis logo, and a voice-over narrating the claims, another with an NDC TV logo, and another with a JT inscription. 

Verification 

Dubawa analysed the 5 min 17 sec viral video making the rounds with the inscription ‘JT’ in comparison to another 6 min 26 sec version found online as the supposed original video posted by a media organisation in defense to the viral video. The media organisation also posted a second 7 minute 15 second video as a continuation to the viral video.

Context of videos

A situational description of the scenes in both the viral video and the supposed original video was given and a translation of some of the conversations heard was made from the local Ghanaian dialect (Twi) utterances to English, to establish the context of the video.  It was found that the part conveniently cut to suit the claim that Akufo-Addo was receiving the bribe (4;47-4:56), was a moment Akufo-Addo hesitated as he was writing down the name of the donor (Hajia Fawia), who offered a sum of money (GHS 40,000) and 1,000 T-shirts of Akufo-Addo and Bawumia inscribed with ‘Arise for Change 2016’, which was captured in the second supposed original video. It was also stated a number of times by the donor, and the men who accompanied her that it was her little way of helping Akufo-Addo and a show of her support to him.

Both the viral video and supposed original video start with two women sitting in a sitting room; one on the left is in glasses and scrolling through her phone and the other on the right (who later introduces herself in the video as Hajia Fawzia to Akufo-Addo) had bowed her head before, raises it later to hold a conversation with the person behind the camera documenting the scene (who later introduces himself as Yakubu in the video to Akufo-Addo). 

Transcript of conversation

Hajia Fawzia: (mutters some words)

Yakubu: Eh? Aaah 

Hajia Fawzia: (keeps muttering and points to herself)

Yakubu: (Giggles) So much

Some men are also seen and heard on the porch overlooking the sitting room, having a conversation. 

A woman appears at the entrance of what is later identified to be an office and is heard greeting good morning in the background as one of the men from the porch in a black suit also appears and walks with Hajia Fawzia and person recording the video, Yakubu,  into an office where Akufo-Addo is seen sitting at a desk and welcomes them. 

In the office 

(In the background) I am getting married and I said I’m coming to introduce you…

Akufo-Addo: You’re lucky 

There is laughter, and Hajia Fawzia and the man in black suit sit opposite Akufo-Addo and the man is heard introducing the intent of the visit.

Akufo-Addo: And this morning?

Man in black suit: This morning is fine. It is this queen who went to see Aunty Ama… 

Akufo Addo:  Ama Busia?

Man in black suit: Yes, that she has some t-shirts and some little help that she wants to bring to you. But Aunty Ama said if she attempts to dress up and come here…  but she knew I was coming here so… Her husband is the director of urban roads 

Akufo-Addo: Oh, Transport Ministry?

Man in black suit: Yes, they are under Ministry of Transport

Akufo-Addo: Now they say they are called  Highways 

Man in black suit: That’s right. I think issues about civil servants are hard to discuss

(man and Akufo-Addo laugh)

Hajia Fawzia: We have been sending it, but we have realised that it doesn’t come

Akufo-Addo: Oh, I see. Okay…

Hajia Fawzia : We are meeting the wrong people

Man in black suit: So this morning, my first business is that I brought her to greet you so that whatever she has to say…

Akufo-Addo: Okay okay 

Man in black suit: I think the t-shirts are in the car (motions for Hajia to speak)

Hajia Fawzia: I am so excited, I don’t even know what to say… Please this brother of mine brought me so I will let him do the talking 

Another man who does not appear in the video but seems to be the one still behind the camera, later identified as Yakubu, is heard further introducing the purpose of the visit. 

Yakubu: Yah, Nana, I think some time ago, Lt. Colonel Damoah met at Mama Busia’s house where I showed you some videos of how military people are trained, 

Akufo-Addo: Yes, yes, yes (Akufo Addo nods in confirmation)

Yakubu: Ahaaa, since then I think the workload has been a lot so… they usually bring me a report of how they help and all, and I  said no let’s go to Mama to inform her so that whatever they would like to do… maybe there are some proposals before you and some little items that they can also use to help out… so this is the little help we can also offer to help you. So this morning as we came, she said she has in her hands 40, 000 in addition to the T-shirts so that later, any help that there will be, we can communicate it….

The man in black suit stands to offer a parcel in a brown envelope to Akufo-Addo, who was busily noting down something on paper and did not appear to notice the gesture.  He later lifts his head to notice and exclaims ‘oh’,  receives it and continues to write. 

Akufo-Addo: Please I need to have a name…. 

Hajia Fawzia : Hajia Fawzia 

Akufo-Addo: Fawzia? I…A?

Hajia Fawzia: F- A- W- Z- I – A 

Akufo-Addo: (Stops writing) Oh fantastic. And t-shirts?

Yakubu: Yes, a 1000 t-shirts 

Akufo-Addo resumes writing 

Man in black suit gives a proverb about the importance of the t-shirt and mentions his travel plans to Kumasi the next day and his intent to take some of the t-shirts

Akufo-Addo: So you will take it to them?

Man in black: Yes

Hajia Fawzia ; The T-shirts, we had even already given some out, just that we hadn’t met the right people

Akufo-Addo: Is it of just me? Or me and him, the t-shirt…

Hajia Fawzia, Man in black suit and Yakubu chorus: Yes, of you and Bawumia 

Yakubu: Or should I go and bring samples so you see?

Hajia Fawzia nods and motions for Yakubu to bring the samples, who leaves the scene.  

The second supposed original  7 minute 15 second video continues with Yakubu, the man behind the camera, going outside into a car to get the-shirts. He later enters the office and Akufo-Addo comments that it looks really good and that the samples brought in should be left with him. Yakuba is seen handing a sample of the T-shirt with the inscription ‘Arise for Change 2016’ to the man in a black suit. There is some laughter while Yakubu also compliments the quality and texture of the t-shirt, and Hajia Fawzia reveals the location of the printing press. 

Shortly after, Akufo-Addo thanks them for coming and Hajia Fawzia asks for a photo.

Akufo-Addo is heard asking for the name of the man behind the camera and he is heard mentioning Yakubu. There is more laughter after the photo is taken and Hajia Fawzia promises another visit, and they leave the office.

The Salis Video

The conversation in this video, also with an accompanying narrative suggesting that the President was Caught accepting a bribe on 30th of May 2017 to halt the dismissal of the Director of Urban Roads Alhaji Dr Tanko, is similar to that of the two earlier discussed with some very obvious manipulation. This one, however, came with a voice-over narrating to viewers the place and purpose of the meeting, and the sequence of events in the video. 

Unlike the previously discussed videos, this one does not start with the two women. It starts with the gentleman in the black suit, identified by the narrator as Ambassador Adeji-Bawuah, in the middle of a sentence “…Her husband is the director of urban roads…”

Akufo-Addo: Oh, Transport Ministry?

Man in black suit: Yes, they are under Ministry of Transport

Akufo-Addo: Now they say they are called  Highways 

Man in black suit: That’s right. I think issues about civil servants are hard to discuss… man and Akufo-Addo laugh)

woman : We have been sending it, but we have realised that it doesn’t come

Akufo-Addo: Oh, I see. Okay…

This is followed by the voice of the narrator which tells viewers the meeting happened in the private residence of the President, Nima, and that the individuals had visited him to ‘plead clemency’ for the Director of Urban Roads.

The conversation continues in the same line as the two earlier transcribed videos until the woman asks her ‘brother’ who had led her to Akufo-Addo to brief him on the purpose of the meeting.

Invisible man: Yah, Nana, I think some time ago, Lt. Colonel Damoah met at Mama Busia’s house where I showed you some videos of how military people are trained…

Akufo-Addo: Yes, yes, yes (Akufo-Addo nods in confirmation)

The voice of the speaker (referred to here as invisible man as he cannot be seen in the video suddenly changes – so does the narrative in comparison with the earlier videos).

Invisible man: So your excellency, this morning we did not come with bad news, we are here because of Alhaji Abass’s issues. People are disturbing him – that he should be removed from office because he has been engaging in politics. But he has denied engaging in politics in office. He is a civil servant. He has never committed any offence there too but people just hate him and they say they will sack him from there. So he says we should come and plead with you on his behalf and to tell you the truth. He is on his knees pleading. The hatred they have for him, it will not be well if you don’t step in.

This is again followed by a narration to the effect a brown envelope containing an amount of $40,000 was then handed over to Akufo-Addo by the man on behalf of the Director of Urban Roads.

Invisible man: People claim they said he should give some money to them. He also says he does not have any money on him. All he can do is this $40,000 – we should bring it to you and that he is on his knees. He will not disgrace you if you give the position to him.

The narrator comes in again that Akufo-Addo asks for a name to which the woman gives the name FAWZIA.

Analysis of the videos

Dubawa ran a forensic search on the acclaimed video making rounds on social media with the ‘JT’ inscription and found it to be manipulated, whereas evidence from the supposed original video proves it to be otherwise.

The resolution of the video frames in the acclaimed video was deliberately altered to increase the noise on the video quality. Noise is a grainy veil in a photograph or video, obscuring details and making the contents appear significantly worse. Sometimes, photos or videos can be so noisy that they are essentially unusable. 

However, in this case, the noise was implanted in the video to target more specifically the faces of the persons and the atmosphere of the events that went through the video. Clarity gives people a better understanding of the context and facial expressions of the persons involved. Thus in the video making rounds on social media, the noise was purposely increased to blur the atmosphere and to somehow give the unsuspecting viewer a general perception of the narrative the doctored video intends to share. That is, Akufo-Addo receiving bribes.  

An analysis of the supposed doctored video using an open-source tool, Forensically,  demonstrates the prior stated points.

Image  1: From the  doctored video

In image 1 at the Magnification level 2 the face of the woman in the video cannot be seen clearly because of the noise infused. Facial expressions are important in such videos because it gives the viewer a general background of context. Here; it was intentionally blurred.

Image 2: From the supposed original video

At the same magnification level as image 1, image 2, taken from the original video shows a clearer face of the woman. This implies the absence of noise in Image 2 that was present in Image 1 (which was taken from the supposed doctored video.) 

Also, videos that are deliberately doctored to be noisy are usually shared to capitalize on the viewers existing perception to believe a narrative without noticing the details, like actual conversation in such videos. For the audio, it was deliberately unaltered in the doctored video, since most of the communication was a dialectical Interswitch. Most Ghanaians may understand the actual context of the video in line with the language spoken, but others, especially those who don’t understand the local dialect, will be easily misled and will have to base their judgment on a noisy presented video that neither showed detailed facial expressions or a fairer atmosphere of the context.

Image 3: from the  doctored video

Image 3, taken from the doctored video is analyzed on noise amplitude %100 and on the opacity level of %60, the results show a poor image quality as not even the pattern of the woman’s face is seen in the magnifier (the dark square).

Image 4:  from the supposed original video clip

Image 4, taken from the original video clip and analyzed on the same noise amplitude of %100 and the opacity of %60 as of image 3. The result shows a  converse outcome, while image 4 shows a pattern of the woman’s image 3 was completely blurred (noise).  

Even though the timeline to the  metadata of the doctored video could not be traced, shreds of evidence recovered using the forensically image magnifier showed the video was taken around 2016 before the presidential elections.  This evidence is depicted below in image 5.

Image 5: from the supposed original video

Image 5, on the left, extracted at exactly 2:24 timing of the supposed original video depicts the T-shirt presented to Akufo-Addo with the inscription ‘Arise for Change 2016’ in his office. This inscription was part of his campaign signature in 2016 as seen in the other image on the right. This implies that the video was taken in 2016 before the elections. It also syncs with the dialogue (audio)  suggesting that the T-shirts were presented for the Akufo-Addo 2016 campaign. 

In further contentions that appeared on Twitter, some users have maintained that Akufo-Addo ‘took that bribe’ when he was President by juxtaposing a photo of Akufo-Addo with the former German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel seen in his office as shown in the video, to a news report by Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).  The first picture was from an updated news version on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation dated 2017; while the second picture was captured from the video in question. The user placed the photos to prove that Akufo-Addo was already President when the acclaimed video was made. However, the facts Dubawa uncovered disproves this claim. 

Image: 6 Twitter disputant

First, the image the user shared was from an updated version of a report on Ghana Broadcasting Web. Dubawa traced the actual report and confirmed it to be an updated news report that narrates Akufo- Addo’s visit to Europe in 2015 before he became president. The report was about his 2015 visit to Europe when he met with Angela Merkel, the then German Chancellor.  

Image 7: From the original report on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation(GBC)

The above screenshots are from the 2015 report by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), that the user alleges to have occurred in 2017 while Akufo-Addo was President. The report introduced Akufo-Addo as the 2016 Presidential Candidate of the NPP on a 16-day Europe tour. 

Furthermore, a TinEye Reverse Image and a Google Reverse Image search show that the photo of Akufo Addo and Angela Merkel being debated, first appeared online in 2012 during Akufo-Addo’s meeting with the former German Chancellor when Akufo-Addo was a 2012 presidential candidate. Other searches show that the photo was only used again in the GNA 2015 report during his visit again to Angela Merkel as a 2016 presidential candidate.

Image 8: taken from Akufo-Addo’s twitter handle posted in 2012

Post shows the original photo taken with a group during Akufo-Addo’s visit to German Chancellor in 2012

Image 9: from the supposed original video

The group photo taken in 2012 is also seen in the video next to the photo of Akufo-Addo and Angela Merkel

Image 10: From the original video

The narrative with the doctored video claims the footage was covered sometime in 2017 when Akufo-Addo was already President. The first image on the left was taken in Akufo-Addo’s office before presidency. It was captured moments after John Dramani Mahama, the former President of Ghana rang him to concede defeat.  The news that presented the picture was captured on December 11, 2016. The second image captured at exactly 4:56 of the viral video timing also showed that the proceedings took place in the same office he was in before his presidency.

Hajia Fawzia, the woman who appeared in the video at Akufo Addo’s office has attested in a recent interview that the event took place before the election in 2016 where she donated GHS 40,000 and 1,000 T-shirts to Akufo-Addo, who was then a presidential candidate.  She further explained that it was not a bribe but a campaign donation out of goodwill.

Conclusion

The viral video purporting that Pres Akufo-Addo was caught taking a USD40,000 bribe in 2017 in his capacity as president, in order not to sack Alhaji Abbas who is the director of Urban Roads is false. 

Pieces of evidence reveal that the video in circulation is dated in 2016, it was doctored and does not reveal a bribe scandal. The original video reveals that it was a visit to Akufo-Addo by Hajia Fawzia, whose husband was indeed introduced as the director of Urban Roads.  She was accompanied by two men on the visit to offer a sum of GHS 40,000 and 1,000 T-shirts with an inscription ‘Time for Change 2016’ as a gesture to help and support Akufo-Addo’s campaigns. 

Also, in the video, Akufo-Addo does not prove to be the sitting President at the time,  as he attributes the renaming of the Transport ministry to another government, and he is referred to as Nana, with no titles. This is further corroborated with shreds from the video that prove that he was not the sitting president at the time. 

Maxine Gloria Danso is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Maxine has previously worked as a Research Assistant engaging in some notable communication research projects in Ghana, having completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, with specialisation in journalism, public relations and advertising. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French from the University of Ghana, with a University Diploma in French Studies from Université Rennes 2 in France. Maxine contributes to the team by drawing from her knowledge and research experience in media studies.

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