It’s been 11 days since Premium Times broke the news that Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, did not participate in the mandatory one-year national youth service scheme.
Since then, the internet has been filled with false information and speculations as to the veracity of that claim.
Last week, a badly photoshopped image was trending. The image showed Kemi Adeosun dressed as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member with an accompanying message allegedly from Mrs. Adeosun: “@Wailers! Will you keep quiet! I did my NYSC.” We have long verified that the image is fake.
Since yesterday, a fake news report purporting that the Minister was unaware her NYSC exemption certificate was forged is currently being circulated on the internet.
Our checks reveal that the article, headlined: ‘I don’t know my NYSC exemption certificate was forged. Someone did it for me’ was published yesterday on Newsfield Magazine, a Facebook platform.
Without providing a verifiable context or timeline for Mrs. Adeosun’s alleged rebuttal, the report narrates that the Minister did not apply for exemption from the NYSC herself and had no prior knowledge that the certificate issued by her agent was fake.
It quotes the Minister thus: “I was born in London and also had all my education there. I graduated at 22 and started working immediately. When I returned to Nigeria in 19XX, I knew about the national labour law requirements, including NYSC participation or exemption, but didn’t know how to go about it.
“I relied on 3rd parties to assist and it looks like they took inappropriate steps. I am shocked and equally embarrassed to learn about this. I should have checked before now and I accept the blame for their wrongdoing because they acted on my behalf.
“I accept full responsibility for this incident and regret that it even happened in the first place. I am prepared to do whatever that is required to redeem these grave errors.
“I regret any inconvenience that this may have caused the government which I currently serve and the good people of Nigeria.”
We reached out to the Newsfield Magazine Publisher, Mr. Finian Chuks, who cited the blog Hope for Nigeria as his primary news source. We were unable to find any such article on the Hope for Nigeria website, but a variant of the fake report headlined ‘I am very sorry for the forged certificate – Kemi Adeosun’ was posted on its Facebook page with an accompanying photo-shopped image of the Minister in NYSC gear. The fake news has also been republished without a byline on NGhubs.com, a news portal without a physical contact address at our last check.
Meanwhile, Premium Times has debunked the news story. It said over a week following the expose, the Finance Minister and the Federal Government have yet to respond to the allegations.
Francis Jakpor is the Programme Manager (Election Fact-Checking Project), Paradigm Initiative.