On Saturday, September 5, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a letter shared widely on WhatsApp stating that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had issued a security alert to residents of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory and its environs.
The statement which was shared in a PDF format titled; ‘Intelligence on National Security’ said information reaching the Comptroller General of the Service reveals the existence of Boko Haram terrorists camps in and around the FCT.
The letter written on a NCS’s letterhead said reports have it that the terrorists are planning to attack some selected targets within the FCT.
Copied to all NCS controllers and coordinators, the letter claimed that the terrorists have set up camps in five different locations across FCT, Nasarawa, and Kogi States.
Checks by CDD fact-checkers show that the NCS did not send a security alert to Nigerian or residents of FCT.
Speaking to CDD fact-checker on Monday, September 7, 2020, the spokesperson for NCS, Joseph Attah, said the service does not know the source of the letter being circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.
Attah said: “We don’t know the source of that document.” Continuing, he said: “A security alert as sensitive and of such magnitude could not have been sent in that manner.”
Also, in a swift reaction to the claim, the Defence Headquarters released a statement signed by the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Eneche, ensuring residents of the FCT of their safety.
Eneche said the DHQ in collaboration with other security agencies have been on red alert to ensure the safety of all residents and citizens.
He also said that the Nigerian Armed Forces has intensified effective surveillance of the FCT and other states to checkmate activities of the criminals.
“The Armed Forces in conjunction with other security and response agencies particularly the core intelligence agencies hereby assure the public that preventive and preemptive intelligence are ongoing,” Eneche said.
The Nigeria Customs Service did not issue a security alert to all residents of the FCT and its environs. The spokesperson for NCS told CDD that the document being shared across all social media platform did not emanate from the Customs.
CDD urges members of the public to remain vigilant and always verify all information before disseminating them.
You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica
Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa