On Sunday, May 17, 2020, fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) spotted a WhatsApp broadcast informing Nigerians of plans in place by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to distribute Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funds to the public.
According to the message, distribution of the relief funds follows a directive by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to the Central Bank of Nigeria to release the money to the NCDC for further transfer to Nigerians through their Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The message also advised Nigerians to stay at home and check their eligibility status for the fund by calling a specific mobile number provided.
“General Information, Due to the LOCKDOWN, the FGN has asked the CBN through NCDC to release some relief Amount to citizens who have valid ACT, BVN & ATM to enable everyone to stay at home. Check your eligibility status by callinig__07043196929. Best Regards,” the message read.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown announced by the FGN and various state governments, fraudsters have taken to different means of defrauding Nigerians.
Some of their antics include a claim that the FGN made plans for Nigerians to register on a dedicated website by providing vital personal information including bank details to the platform, a claim which CDD fact-checkers had countered in the past.
However, reacting to this recent claim, the NCDC has said that it is aware of the rumour shared on social media that the centre will provide COVID-19 palliative to Nigerians during the lockdown.
Warning that the claim is false,” the NCDC advised the general public to disregard this rumour and discourage further spread.
The statement said: “NCDC’s mandate is to lead in the preparedness, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.”
Also, a check on the activities of the government confirms that the FGN and CBN have not released any funds to the NCDC for the distribution of any money to Nigerians as COVID-19 relief.
The NCDC is not distributing COVID-19 relief funds to Nigerians as a palliative for the lockdown across the country.
The mandate of the centre does not include the distribution of palliative to Nigerians during the time of crisis.
The CDD urges members of the public to always verify all information before sharing, especially on WhatsApp, as not all information shared online is genuine.
You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter: @CDDWestAfrica.