VERDICT: False and Misleading
CLAIM: On Monday, January 11, 2021, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a trending video of a group of people particularly men dressed in white attire and off-white hats spraying Dollar notes in the air in an event.
The video widely spread on WhatsApp with the claim that the event was the traditional chieftaincy installation of Professor Ebere Onwudiwe, as the Mba 1 of Isunjaba, a ceremony that took place on December 27, 2020. Prof Onwudiwe died from COVID-19 related complication on January 9, 2021.
Prof Onwudiwe until his death was a professor of Political Science Emeritus at the Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and a Distinguished Fellow at the CDD.
A review of the video by CDD fact-checkers using evidence-based technology identified the people in the video as members of the social group, the Asian Tigers, which is displayed on the off-white hat. The group’s membership is largely from Anambra State, South-East Nigeria.
Further fact checks proved that the men in the video attended a traditional wedding ceremony in Agulu, in that state. CDD spotted other videos of the Asian Tigers using tech, CDD found Ufo Solomon’s Facebook page, an ardent follower of the Asian Tigers; and Okafor Ukay’s account, who claimed to be members of Asian Tigers, in Qatar.
One of the videos posted by Ufo Solomon in January 2020, exactly a year earlier, shows the group spaying money at the House Warming of one of their members, confirming a norm in the manner the group display currencies in their events.
Fact-checkers can independently confirm that that Professor Onwudiwe was not a member of the group and therefore there was no way they will attend “his installation’’.
The claim originated from a piece: “The Njaba Super Spreader Event by Joel Nwokeoma” on Saturday, January 9, 2021. In the piece, Nwokeoma had warned residents of the Njaba community to self-isolate, shortly after the death of Prof. Onwudiwe was announced.
The piece by Nwokeoma was subsequently shared on Facebook by a Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojodu. The Facebook post accompanied by the Asian Tiger video has since gone viral.
In a quick reaction, Nwokeoma posted a disclaimer on his Facebook page that said, “evidently, a mischief-maker attached it (the video) to the apt post which has since gone viral”.
Nwokeoma added: “The video should be regarded as what it is, fake and concocted, and therefore discountenanced.”
Also, CDD contacted Nigerian journalist, Ray Ekpu, an associate of Prof Onwudiwe, who was present at the chieftaincy event in Isunjaba. Premium Times had earlier quoted Mr. Ekpu when it reported the death of the Professor.
Mr Ekpu confirmed the trending video as a false representation of Prof Onwudiwe and the event of his chieftaincy installation in Isunjaba.
He said that the chieftaincy installation was a very restricted ceremony, which according to him took place in an open space, with only four persons, including Prof Onwudiwe, Prof Pat Utomi, himself and another individual, the ceremony which lasted within 30 minutes.
Mr Ekpu further stated while there were people at the occasion, the open arena where the rites of conferment were performed by the traditional ruler had only five people present.
According to Mr. Ekpu, there was no band and no music at the ceremony so the question of spraying money was not an issue.
He also added that the ceremony was as solemn.
The claim that the group of men in a white dress and white hat spraying dollars in the air was attending the installation of Prof EbereOnwudiwe is false.
CDD urges the media on accurate reporting and the public to always verify the authenticity of stories before sharing them.
You can forward suspicious messages for verification via +2349062910568 or contact us on Twitter @CDDWestAfrica
#StopFakeNews and to #StopDisinformation
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