An online blog Wazobia Reporters on Thursday, August 22, 2019 published a news story, alleging various claims; that the United States Government had extended it visa ban to Prof Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all Commissioners excluding Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Akwa Ibom State. The claim added that the Oyo State REC, Mutiu Olaleke Agboke was denied visa to the United states by the country’s Consulate in Lagos for the reason above.
CDD fact checkers conducted a background check on the reporter, Funmi Akinlolu, and the platform “Wazobia Reporters.” And, fact checker reviewed the story line on major newspaper, the findings suggest; first, no known credible media reported the extension of visa ban to INEC leadership; this raises the first red flag on the credibility of the story. In addition, no evidence relating the story to any official statement by the Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria.
Our fact checkers linked the news blog to Lere Olayinka, the Media Aide to former Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose as one of the promoters of the blog. CDD fact checkers can confirm that the blog was launched in 2017 by one Dominic Nwachukwu, who lives on 98, Shadow Bus Stop, Odopetu Lagos, Nigeria.
Furthermore, the US Embassy in Abuja has reacted to the story, denying the claim by Wazobia Reporters. A source at the embassy told reporters in Abuja on Thursday, August 22 that that news is false as none of such directive has been given. The source was quoted by reporters as saying:
“The US government refuses to be drawn into any attempt to malign the INEC over the 2019 elections as issues arising from the election are still in court’’
CDD fact checkers also contacted, Barrister Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner in charge Publicity, who said the story is completely false, but added that the Commission will not dignify the story with a statement. He however said the Commission was not aware that Mutiu Olaleke Agboke the REC in Oyo state was denied visa. Barrister Okoye said
If he was denied visa to the United States, it is not in connection with his work at the Commission as visa are granted on individual bases.
CDD confirmed from sources within Commission that two INEC National Commissioner including Amina Zakary were granted Visas to the United States within the period claimed by the report. This was also confirmed by Mr Okoye who said one of the Commissioners is still in the US on official assignment.
The claim that the United States has extended its visa ban to the leadership of INEC is FALSE! This is a fake news deliberately aimed to disinform and misinform Nigerians about the United States and the Election Management Board (EMB). Peddling fake news is not in the interest of our hard earn democracy.