Newsletter for the Week Ending January 10, 2021

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to hit countries across the world hard, there have been efforts to put the health emergency crisis under control. There is a considerable push by world leaders, scientists to strengthen the production and administration of vaccines across over 40 countries and counting.

While no African country has joined the league of nations with vaccine approval and distribution, the progress made in other parts of the world comes with a growing spread of misinformation around the vaccine on the continent.

One thing very important to note is that the last two weeks have ushered in headlines on two new variants of COVID-19 that are spreading fast.

According to WHO, the VOC-202012/01 variant initially detected in the United Kingdom has been detected in a small number of cases in 40 other countries while the 501Y.V2 variant was initially detected in South African in six other countries.

In this part of the world where people are finding it difficult to believe that the virus truly does exist, you also find a section of Nigerians who have refused to accept the importance of a vaccine against the dreaded virus.

For some, they believe the conspiracy that the vaccine is evil – a theory that has continued to form major aspects of small community talks or teachings by renowned religious leaders.

Also, many Nigerians believe the declarations by their religious leaders that the Coronavirus vaccine is demonic and a mark of the beast that will subsequently be used for financial transactions across countries of the world.

However, for others, the vaccine alters the genetic makeup of those who have received it – a conspiracy widely shared online – and for this reason, they believe the vaccine is unsafe for them and their loved ones. These set of people will go to any length to convince anyone who cares to listen on the “dangers of the vaccine.”

Ideologies like the ones mentioned above, CDD’s analysis shows have further increased the spread of disinformation of the new COVID-19 virus vaccine, thereby raising citizens’ fear and doubt about the efficacy of the virus.

Also, CDD has received a lot of claims that fall within the category of online scams making rounds online for verification. Below is one a fact check to counter the claim of the distribution of N30,000 N-Power grant to Nigerians.

The broadcast with an accompanying link claimed beneficiaries of the will be determined from those selected.

The link provided by the suspected scammers would also require that applicants provide details such as account number among others.

The applicants are also expected to share the link to 12 other people on WhatsApp – a pattern which CDD has noticed is used by internet fraudsters to lure mostly unemployed Nigerians to their “scheme”.

Investigations carried out by CDD fact-checkers showed the claim to be false and purely another method used by online scammers to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.

Checks carried out by CDD revealed the link provided looks are fake and not from the Federal Government’s approved N-Power Programme.

Read the full report here

Another claim countered by the CDD is the report that Bayero University Kano (BUK) has cancelled its 2019/2020 academic session. The report also claimed that the university has announced a resumption for other academic activities within the institution for January 18, 2021.

The report also said that the decision to cancel the academic session was taken by the University’s Senate on Monday, January 4, 2021.

Contrary to details of the report, investigations by the CDD revealed that the 2019/2020 academic session of Bayero University has not been cancelled by the institution.

The Centre gathered that the university had announced the completion of the session which was disrupted by COVID19 pandemic.

The Director of Public Affairs for Bayero University Kano, Malam Ahmad Shehu, told our fact-checker that no session has been cancelled by the institution as widely claimed online.

Shehu said the Senate of the university, at a special meeting held on Monday, January 4, 2021, approved the completion of the 2019/2020 academic session prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full report here

Other fact-checks produced by the CDD are:

Trending Image of Ministry of Long Life and Prosperity Bus in Imo is Fake

FACT-CHECK: Kano Hospital Not Shut Down Over COVID-19 Case

WhatsApp, Facebook Not Banned by Katsina State Government

FACT-CHECK: Is Buhari’s Claim on #EndSARS Protest Coverage by CNN, BBC True?

Did FG Direct Reopening of COVID-19 Isolation Centres?