FACT CHECK: Did 50 Nigerian Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19?

VERDICT: Unproven

CLAIM: On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, several news blogs in Nigeria reported a claim that over 50 lawmakers at the National Assembly allegedly tested positive for Coronavirus.

The report claimed the development was responsible for the adjournment of plenary by the leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The blog also quoted an anonymous lawmaker who claimed that about 50 of his colleagues had tested positive to the virus.

It said that most of the affected lawmakers were seriously ill and some isolated.

This claim has also been published by these news sites including Newsflash, Opera News and many others.

FACT:

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ajibola Basiru, in response, questioned the validity of the claim.

Basiru in his response on his official Twitter page said: “Who conducted the test? Who did the counting? And who are these 50 lawmakers and what is the distribution per each Chambers? Fake news is corruption!!!!’’

Also, when CDD fact-checkers contacted Basiru on the matter, he simply replied: “Fake news” through a text message.

In his reaction, the spokesperson to the House of Representative, Benjamin Kalu, said the claim was false.

A statement released by the lower chamber, which was sent to our fact-checker when contacted read in part: ‘’We wish to state that there has not been any panic at the National Assembly as alleged in the publication and that to the best of our knowledge, it is absolutely untrue that 50 lawmakers tested positive to Covid-19.”

The House is certain that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force remain the most credible sources of data with regards to this pandemic and should be referred to for fact verification before misinforming the public,” the statement added.

The statement further urged the public to disregard the news and consign it to the trash bin, this misinformation.

Further checks with the Assistant Epidemiologist of the Federal Capital Territory, Dr Nwachukwu, showed that the claim is unproven.

Dr Nwachukwu told CDD fact-checkers that she is not aware of such an incident.

“I am not aware of such,” Dr Nwachukwu said.

 CONCLUSION

The claim remains unproven. Both Chambers of the National Assembly have debunked the report that 50 lawmakers have tested positive to COVID-19.

CDD, therefore, urges members of the public to always verify all information before disseminating them.

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter: @CDDWestAfrica.

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation