CDD Newsletter For the Week Ending March 21, 2021

Disinformation and misinformation are currently being spread in such a manner that they both pose a global threat, causing unease and fear within societies and organisations. With our work at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), we are committed to empowering people across the West African region with adequate knowledge that could help them to identify and verify all forms of false information and claims.

At the Centre, we believe democracy can hardly thrive in an environment filled with falsehood – whether online or offline – and the chaos that results from it.

Over the weekend, news platforms across Nigeria reported that a group Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) had taken responsibility for the attack on Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom.

Also speaking on the African Independent Television’s News Hour on Sunday, March 21, the Governor said FUNAM have come out to take responsibility for the attack on him (Governor Ortom) while on his farm, in Benue.

This is not the first time such statements will be credited to the group. In October 2020, a similar viral claim was traced to a post by a blog, Jungle Journalist. The message was posted on Nairaland and shared on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

In the message, the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) claimed to have been responsible for the attack meted out to #EndSARS protesters by some hoodlums in Apo District of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

In 2019, CDD conducted a fact-check exposing FUNAM as a faceless group that emerged the previous year, 2018. The group as at the time claimed to have been responsible for the crisis between farmers and herders.

While it has become clear that FUNAM does not exist, the group has been used as a weapon to stoke ethnic tensions as far back as 2018.

For instance, during the #EndSARS protest, a statement credited to FUNAM said the non-existent group claimed responsibility for the burning of vehicles in Apo area of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city on October 19, 2020.

There is no group known as FUNAM and not responsible for the attacks on #EndSARS protesters in Apo district of Abuja.

This is an attempt at stoking ethnic tensions and should be ignored.

Fact-checks for the Week

On Thursday, March 18, 2020, CDD fact-checker spotted a WhatsApp broadcast claiming that there is an ongoing distribution of Coronavirus (COVID-19) survival fund program for the second wave of the pandemic.

According to the broadcast, the program, an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria is expected to make N30,000 available to successful applicants weekly to avoid prevent a negative impact of the pandemic on the people.

The message which read: “Hurry Up And Get ₦30,000 SurvivalFund . It takes fews {sic} seconds to apply. Don’t miss this great opportunity”, also had a link attached to it.

Investigations carried out by the CDD reveal that the claim that FG is currently running a N30,000 COVID-19 fund for citizens to survive the second wave of the pandemic is false.

Checks by the CDD showed that the link provided is a bait used by fraudsters to defraud innocent Nigerians.

Read the full fact-check here

On March 15, 2021, CDD fact-checkers spotted a claim published by multiple online sources including the Punch and ABN claiming that Professor Chukwuka Okonjo, the father of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had just died.

The reports indicated that a statement issued by Dr Ngozi on behalf of the family said her father, the immediate past Obi of Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State died on March 15, 2021.

It also added that Professor Okonjo died at the age of 91 in Lagos as soon as he returned from a trip to the United States of America and Ghana.

Checks by the CDD show that the claim that Professor Chukwuka Okonjo recently passed on March 15, 2021, is misleading.

The former Obi of Ogwashi Ukwu in Delta State passed on September 13, 2019, at the age of 91 in Lagos.

An investigation by CDD also reveals that a press statement released by the late Professor’s family through Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s media adviser, Paul C. Nwabiukwu on September 13, 2019, had confirmed that he died two years ago and not 2021.

Read the full fact-check here


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CDD is urging Nigerians 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 #StopDisinformation

Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa