CLAIM: On January 11, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a report on TrueTellsNigeria” with the headline: BREAKING NEWS: 200 ECWA Church Members Die Of COVID-19.
The claim also published by a blog – Akpraise – with the headline: Popular Nigerian Church Mourns As 200 Members Are Allegedly killed By COVID-19 said that the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) had on Saturday, January 9, 2021, announced the death of 200 of its mission supporters from complications of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the report, the announcement was made by ECWA’s President, Reverend Dr. Stephen Baba, while officiating the funeral service of one of the church’s members, Yakubu Kadiya, at Kent Academy Miango, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Checks by CDD fact-checkers showed that the reports published by the blogs are false.
While debunking the claim, the public relations officer of ECWA Headquarters in Jos, Plateau State, Reverend Romanus Ebenwokodi, said the report is completely false.
Speaking to CDD fact-checker on phone, Ebenwokodi said Reverend Baba’s comments at the funeral in Plateau were taken out of context and used to misinform the general public.
He said Baba had at the funeral mentioned that 200 ECWA Mission’s supporters were affected by the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The clarification made by ECWA’s PRO in Jos was also reiterated in a statement subsequently released by the church and signed by Ebenwkodi.
The statement said that 200 ECWA Mission’s supporters did not die of COVID-19 as reported by some blogs.
In the statement, Ebenkwodi added that the Reverend Baba while speaking at the funeral of Yakubu had mentioned that over 200 Mission’s supporters of Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) of ECWA were affected by the economic hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statement also said that pandemic, in turn, affected the church’s ability to continue with the Mission’s support in ECWA.
CDD can confirm that the claim that 200 ECWA members died of COVID-19 is false.
A comment made by ECWA’s Reverend that the COVID-19 pandemic affected over 200 Mission’s supporters of the church was taken out of context by some blogs.
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
Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa