Dr. Yemi Kale, the statistician-general of Nigeria, tweeted the data at 8:03AM Nigerian time (9:03AM in South Africa), 57 minutes before the data was meant to be published.
"March 2017 inflation report published," Kale tweeted. "Headline inflation drops for 14th consecutive time to 13.34% in March 2018, year on year from 14.33% in February. Food inflation drops to 16.08% from 17.59% and Core inflation drops to 11.2% from 11.7%." His tweet included the infographic below:
About 10 minutes after his original tweet, Kale replied to a tweet from a Nigerian journalist asking about the data, saying that he had "published one hour earlier by accident."
"It will be shortly," Kale responded. "I published one hour earlier by accident. Forgot Watch still on London time so I released 8am instead of 9am as published. Probably need a break/holiday. My apologies."
Kale's excuse is somewhat unusual, given that both London and Nigeria's two main cities, Abuja and Lagos, are both currently in the same time zone.
It is possible that Kale visited London prior to March 25, when London was one hour ahead of Nigeria, although it seems unlikely he would fail to change his watch in almost three weeks.
Kale is well-known in Nigeria for his use of Twitter, often engaging with other users, including frequently putting down users who question him.
On Thursday, for example, he told one user to "google what inflation is," in response to a complaint about the increase in prices for televisions in the past year.
"Sigh!!," Kale said. "I can feel two new grey hairs growing and small tighteness in my chest and left arm just as I read this tweet. Pls try and just google what inflation is and how it works and also what it means to say “year on year”. It’s important we understand what all these things mean."
The incident does not seem to have had a major market impact, but remains an embarrassing mistake, and would likely have been a bigger issue in a larger, more established global economy.
Last year, Britain's statistical authority, the Office for National Statistics, stopped giving politicians and central bankers early access to data amid fears that some figures were being leaked to the market prior to their release.