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INSIGHT: The exploitation of #Justice4Mohbad hashtag for disinformation, unrelated content

INSIGHT: The exploitation of #Justice4Mohbad hashtag for disinformation, unrelated content
October 17
08:25 2023

On September 12, prominent Nigerian singer, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, professionally known as Mohbad passed away. The circumstances surrounding his death sparked controversies, prompting the hashtag #Justice4Mohbad. The hashtag, which signifies a call for a comprehensive inquiry into the artist’s death, was misappropriated by some individuals for unrelated causes and dissemination of misinformation.

Reports indicated that the 27-year-old artist allegedly passed away in Perez Medcare Hospital, a medical facility based in Lagos. However, the hospital has stated that he was deceased upon arrival at their premises.

Mohbad was laid to rest a day after his demise, sparking more debates and discussions on social media. Despite the speculations, the exact cause of the singer’s death remains unknown. Some unverified reports have suggested that an ear infection was a contributing factor.

On September 14, Joseph Aloba, the deceased father, revealed his son passed after receiving an injection administered by an “auxiliary nurse”. 


In 2022, the late singer alleged assault dealt on him by Marlian Records, the music label he was formerly signed with – owned by Naira Marley. Mohbad claimed members of the music label assaulted him for requesting a new manager. 

Following Mohbad’s death, a petition dated June 27, 2023, surfaced online. In the petition directed to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Annex in Alagbon, Lagos, Mohbad reported threats to his life, malicious damage, assault, and oppression by Sam Larry, a music promoter, and a person of interest to the police in the investigation process.

In response to public outcry, the Nigerian police have pledged a thorough investigation into the singer’s death. On September 18, the Lagos police also established a 13-member special investigation team to unravel the controversies around Mohbad’s demise. Many Nigerians believe the singer’s death ‘was not natural’. Many have alleged that he was killed. Hence, the demand for investigations and justice led to the hashtag, #Justice4Mohbad.



A hashtag, denoted by the “#” symbol before a word or phrase, without spaces, is used to easily find information on specific topics. It simplifies content search for social media users by showcasing popular and recent posts on a particular subject matter.

Different hashtags have been used to draw attention to Mohbad’s death and to demand justice. Hashtags like #MOHBAD, #IMOLE, and #Justice4Mohbad dominated popular social media platforms like X, Instagram, and Facebook for weeks – making it a trending topic. #JusticeforMohbad has received 902,653 mentions on X alone since September 12 2023.

Posts linked to the hashtags ordinarily focus on the deceased. However, TheCable found that some posts diverged from the intended purpose of the hashtags to conveying completely different messages. Some of the posts with the hashtags were used to promote personal content targeted at attracting engagements and likes, and in some other cases, to sell or advertise a product or service.



Though they carry the #Justice4Imole hashtags, TheCable found posts containing entertaining videos and pictures accompanied by catchy captions. They are intended to reach new and wider audiences. 

For instance, a post by Dolarossey was used to poke fun at an individual in this video which showed Hilda Bacci, a renowned Nigerian chef with a world record, welcoming guests at her September birthday celebration. The X user teased an unidentified guest who experienced a wardrobe mishap while responding to Bacci’s warm greeting.

Another X user uploaded a funny skit and used the hashtag #IMOLEMOHBAD to promote the video.


An X post with the #Mohbad hashtag uploaded for entertainment


Another unrelated post with the trending hashtag



This was intended for comic relief which was clearly understood by social media users.


Ambulance chasing is when brands and individuals hijack a trending hashtag such as #JusticeforMohbad to build their profile or market and their products. The prevalent form of hashtag hijacking often originates from individuals seeking attention, primarily on platforms like X and Instagram. These individuals typically distort hashtags by incorporating multiple popular ones in their posts, aiming to boost visibility in searches.


Since hashtags like #Imole, #ImoleMohbad, and #Justice4Mohbad dominated the trends for weeks and generated thousands of engagements,  some social media users jumped at the opportunity to showcase their businesses.

Beckford Realtors Limited posted a 2-bedroom property for rental and short-let investment and added the caption #ImoleMohbad for increased feasibility. The caption said the property goes for 55 million naira and a rental value of 3.5 million.


Hashtag used to promote real estate


Promotion of real estate business with the #ImoleMohbad hashtag


In another post showcasing sales of a one-bedroom apartment, a social media user by the name, Rose Ameh, misappropriated the use of the #Mohbad hashtag.


#Justice4Mohbad was used to draw attention to a forex trading academy


Another unrelated use of the trending hashtag


#Mohbad was used to draw attention to a piece of photography


Some others used hashtags to post personal interactions for content visibility and to increase audience engagement for their posts. This was done to possibly gain more followers, likes, and shares.

A Facebook user named Siju Adeoye used the hashtag to drive engagement on one of her posts.

Below are more examples of posts where social media users misappropriated the hashtags relating to the late singer to drive engagement on X.

TheCable also observed other trending hashtags like #BBN and popular names like #MercyEke, #FunkeAkindele, and #DonJazzy were used alongside #Juistice4Mohbad to drive engagements. In some cases, users outrightly asked others to help repost their tweets which carry the #Justice4Mohbad hashtag.


On September 14, a post claimed that Naira Marley and Sam Larry were arrested by the police. With hashtags related to the deceased singer, the post was shared across social media platforms. 

“Naira Marley and Sam Larry has been arrested !! They will be questioned over the viral videos of assault against demised singer Mohbad,” the post reads.


A misleading post claims Naira Marley and Sam Larry had been arrested earlier before they were truly in police custody


On Facebook, a similar claim accompanied by a purported screenshot falsely claimed that Naira Marley confessed to having killed Mohbad.

As of the time the post was shared on Twitter and Facebook, the police asked Nigerians to disregard the misleading social media post, adding that both Naira Marley and Sam Larry had not been arrested for questioning at that time.

“The report is false; it is a lie; no one has been arrested,” Oluniyi Ogundeyi, the spokesperson for the Lagos annex of the FCID, had earlier said.

Through a statement issued on September 29, the Nigeria police said they now have Sam Larry in their custody. On the other hand, Naira Marley was taken into police custody in Lagos on October 3. 

Update from the Police command on Sam Larry’s arrest

On October 4, a Yaba, Lagos magistrate court remanded Naira Marley and Sam Larry in police custody. The Lagos police requested a 30-day remand during the court sitting for their investigation. However, the chief magistrate, Adeola Olatunbosun, decreed a 21-day remand in her judgment.


A video surfaced on TikTok with the claim that Naira Marley’s house was set ablaze as a result of his complicity in Mohbad’s death.

Screenshot of the post claiming Naira Marley’s house was burnt down

After Subjecting one of the circulating videos to analysis on InVID, the video verification tool revealed that the footage was taken from an unrelated event. 

 Naira Marley’s house was never burnt down as the misleading post claimed

The misleading video which actually shows a house on fire in Chicago, US, was posted by ABC7Chicago on YouTube on March 7, 2023, several months before the death of Mohbad. 

A house which was on fire in Chicago, US, in March 2023, was used to misrepresent Naira Marley’s house.


In what appears to be a bid to immortalise the late singer and to show that he was a great musician, an X user – @iamemkay_ got his facts mixed up while comparing Mohbad’s life to that of the legendary hip-hop star, Tupac Shakur.

“2pac d!ed in 1996, Mohbad was born in 1996. 2pac was born in June and Mohbad was born in June. 2pac d!ed in September and  Mohbad died in September. 2pac d!ed at the age of 27 while mohbad also d!ed at the age of 27. #Justice4mobhad #iamemkay,” the post reads.

Partly misleading posts purportedly showing the coincidence in the lives of the two late musicians were circulated on other social media platforms including WhatsApp.

While some of the details in the comparison were correct, the claim that Tupac died at the age of 27 is misleading. The late American rapper died on September 13 at the age of 25.

In conclusion, hashtags play a crucial role in social media interactions by offering a means to streamline discussions on specific topics. Nonetheless, utilizing a hashtag for an unintended purpose makes it difficult to find relevant information related to the hashtag. It is highly unethical and reflects negatively on the company, event, or brand, portraying them as unprofessional.

This article was produced with mentorship from the African Academy for Open Source Investigations (AAOSI), to tackle disinformation that undermines our democracies, as part of an initiative by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and Code for Africa (CfA). Visit https://disinfo.africa/ for more information.

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