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Catholic bishops did not hold #EndSARS prayer walk

The photo of the claimed prayer walk by catholic bishops 3 mins read

Claim: A facebook user, Chukwudi Ufondu, shared a photo claiming that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria held a prayer walk in support of #EndSARS recently.  

False. The claim is a hoax and no such prayer walk in solidarity with #EndSARS protesters by catholic bishops held. A reverse image search showed that the photo accompanying the claim was taken on March 1, 2020 when the bishops walked the streets of Abuja to protest insecurity in the country. 

Full Text

Ufondu, with a followership of 82504 on Facebook, claimed in a post accompanied with a photo, that the catholic bishops recently staged a prayer walk in solidarity with #EndSARS protesters. 

He said in his post: “In case you missed it, yesterday the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria held a Prayer walk in Support of #endsars. Even the 77 year Old Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja and Prince of the Mother Church His Eminence Cardinal John O Onaiyekan CON Participated actively.” 

A screenshot of the claim

The post has gone viral with about 279 shares already on facebook within a short time after he made the claim.

But how true is the claim?

Brief on #EndSARS protests in Nigeria

End Special Anti-Robbery Squad or #EndSARS is a youth-led movement against police brutality in Nigeria.

In 1992, the Nigerian government set up the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as a branch of the Nigerian Police with the remit of tackling armed robbery, kidnapping, and other firearms crime. However, a columnist, Ahmed Olayinka Sule, wrote that in recent years, some SARS members have been involved in extortion, rape, torture, and extra-judicial killings of innocent Nigerians. 

Most of the victims of this abuse of power have been Nigerian youths.

In response to the crimes against humanity perpetrated by SARS, the Nigerian youths formed the #EndSARS protest movement around 2017 as an online movement with the key aim of abolishing the SARS unit. Over time, the movement gained momentum, Nigerians started seeing young men and women marching on the streets to put pressure on government officials.

Did the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria hold a prayer walk in support of #EndSARS protesters?

Verification

A reverse image search showed that the photo of the protesting bishop first surfaced on the internet on March 1, 2020, contrary to the claim that it was a recent photo.

A news platform, The Sitenews,  published the photo showing that on March 1, 2020, dozens of Catholic bishops marched on the streets of Abuja against the rising wave of insecurity and killings in Nigeria.

“The march, which kicked off from the National Ecumenical Center, has a large number of Catholic Bishops among participants. Carrying different placards, the protesters are demanding for a better and safer society,” the news platform reported then.  

Similarly, a twitter page, Signal tweeted the same photo using its handle, @thesignalng, on March 3, 2020.

“Nigerian Catholic Bishops March to Protest Massacre of Christians,” the tweet read. 

A screenshot of the photo on twitter since March 3, 2020

Conclusion

The claim is false. It is a hoax and no such prayer walk in solidarity with #EndSARS protesters by catholic bishops ever took place. A reverse image search showed that the photo accompanying the claim was taken on March 1, 2020 when the bishops walked the streets of Abuja to protest insecurity in the country. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

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