FACT-CHECK NEWSLETTER FOR THE WEEK ENDING August 22, 2020

It is a fact that fake news spreads faster than the truth on social media all over the world. 

Unfortunately, those who are in the business of generating fake news are trying out all forms of advanced approaches, making distinguishing real from false information difficult than ever.

Viral investment scams, fake videos and pictures and satirical contents containing misleading information are some of the new ways creators of disinformation thrive in the ecosystem. 

From calls for investment in money doubling scam to a claim on Myafricatoday that the World Health Organization sent a message to the world on a Coronavirus vaccine, some of the disinformation countered this week are:

FACT-CHECK: Can You Investment N25k and Get N50k Instantly Using winners Pay Investment Platform?

On Monday, August 17, 2020, fact-checkers at Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted on a Facebook post claiming that an investor can win N50,000 instantly from N25,000 investment.

The post which claimed the investment is an easy one said the 100 per cent benefit of investment can be received in less than one hour after payment is made.

According to the poster, the investment is legit as an investor can invest any amount of money and immediately get double the amount within 45 minutes.

The message read in part: “ I have just been credited from this platform. I invested 25k, I was paid 50,000 in not less than 45min. So I decided to share with you to join the platform and testify too. VIEW THE LINK BELOW

https://chat.whatsapp.com/Gnk0hbzwbd4GNdMAINjjQX  Contact the admin directly (09037026019) for more information.

However, investigations done by fact-checkers show that the message is an online scam as the evidence provided is very suspicious.

Checks by the CDD revealed that the mobile number of the “admin” as indicated in the message is registered as Anthony Joshua.

Further checks by the centre show that the investment company have continued to pressure their clients to make payments for the deal with a promise of the 100 per cent return in less than one hour.

Read the full report here

FACT-CHECK: No, WHO Did Not Send Message on COVID-19 Vaccine

On August 20, 2020, fact-checkers at CDD came across an article published on Myafricatoday claiming that the World Health Organization sent an important message to the world on a Coronavirus vaccine. 

The report headlined “Breaking-news world health organization sends important message to the world on coronavirus vaccines”, said WHO’s Secretary-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has revisited research on COVID-19 vaccine and its accessibility to the world.

According to the blog, WHO is working closely with various sectors and governments to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccine for all.

The report said WHO’s decision comes at a time when some countries are opting to sell the vaccine, when available, at a high fee to nations vulnerable to the pandemic.

WHO did not send messages to “the world” or leaders of countries regarding COVID-19 vaccine or its availability.

A review of the report by the blog also shows that no part of the content had the message purportedly sent to the world leaders by the WHO.

Also, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, Dr Ghebreyesus at the WHO’s briefing on COVID-19, discussed challenges of logistics involved in combatting the pandemic.

Ghebreyesus in his statement highlighted numerous logistic failures in the initial response to the disease.

He said: “Supply nationalism exacerbated the pandemic and contributed to the total failure of the global supply chain.” 

Dr Ghebreyesus said this led to the lack of key supplies for dealing with the novel coronavirus in several nations. 

The claim that WHO sent messages to the world and leaders of nations on a vaccine or its accessibility is false.

Read full report here

FACT-CHECK: Kano Governor Ganduje Did Not Sack Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs

On August 18, 2020, fact-checkers at the CDD spotted a letter circulating widely on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, particularly on groups largely dominated by Kano citizens.

The letter, supposedly from the Office of the Executive Governor of Kano state, dated August 18, 2020 and signed by Salihu Tanko Yakasai, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor, claimed the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state, Murtala Sule Garo, has been sacked. 

Part of the letter read: “His Excellency the Governor of Kano State Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR has approved the relieve of appointment of the appointment of Hon. Murtala Sule Garo as the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development of Kano State with effect from today, Tuesday 18th of August, 2020.”

“Accordingly, he is required to hand over all government property in his possession to the Permanent Secretary and Cabinet Affairs in the Office immediately,” the letter added.

Fact checks by CDD show that no press release or letter was issued by the Kano State Government or the SSA on Media to Governor Ganduje on the sack of Garo. 

When reached,  Yakasai confirmed that the letter announcing the sack of Garo is fake.

“I didn’t sign any letter sacking the Commissioner; therefore, the letter in circulation saying the Commissioner is sacked is fake,” Yakassai said.

He debunked the claim that Garo had been sacked by the Governor nor that he (Yakasai) signed the letter announcing purported sack.

Read full report here

FACT-CHECK: Can Fake Voters’ Card be used in Edo State Governorship Election?

On August 18, 2020, a report by multiple online platforms, including The Nigeran Post, which was attributed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is printing fake Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) ahead of the Edo Governorship election.

The headline, “Edo 2020: APC Printing Fake Voters Cards, PDP alleges,” the report said the PDP accused the APC of involving in such activity because the party realised it would not win the election. The PDP further alleged that the Fake PVCs are intended to be used by the APC to rig the poll.

Checks by fact-checkers at the CDD show that Only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) produce Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) that can be used in any Nigeria election. In the past, INEC had clarified such claim, the Election Management Body on countless occasions, clarified that the PVC is coded to designated polling units and configured to specific and unique Smart Card Reader with robust security features. 

It is important to note that this is not the first time Nigerian politicians will raise and make such a false claim. During the 2019 general elections, INEC National Commissioner in charge of publicity, Barrister Festus Okoye, while reacting to allegations of the use of cloned PVC said such claim is only a ploy by politicians to pressure the Commission into disclosing the kind of security the Smart Card Reader possesses.

As stated in the INEC election guideline, the Smart Card Reader is used before voter’s accreditation to validate and authenticate the identity of the voter by cross-matching their fingerprints with data already stored in an embedded chip. Evidence suggests that the use of the Smart Card Reader has enhanced electoral integrity in Nigeria. The PVC is not transferrable, and any PVC not issued by INEC cannot be validated and authenticated for the purpose of voting in Nigeria elections, including in the Edo State governorship poll, scheduled to hold on September 19, 2020.

The claim by the PDP and reported on several media outlets that fake/cloned PVC will be used to rig the Edo state election is not correlated with the guideline released by INEC and therefore cannot be substantiated.

CDD can authoritatively confirm that any PVC not issued by INEC will not authenticate and/or be used for voting during the Edo 2020 election. 

Read full report here

CDD is urging members of the public to read beyond headlines before sharing any news report. 

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

#StopFakeNews #StopDisinformation

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Center for Democracy and Development West Africa| CDD West Africa