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Did Bill Gates offer a $10million bribe to the House of Representatives?

Image Credit: Naija News 4 mins read

The Coalition of Political Parties claimed that Bill Gates offered a bribe to the House of Representatives to hasten the passage of a pending bill on compulsory vaccination for everybody in Nigeria. 

The claim remains unproven. Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the House of Representative have disclaimed the accusation but the committee investigating the claim in the House of Representative is still continuing its work. 

Full Text

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) claimed in a Monday, May 4th statement published in the DailyPost and credited to CUPP’s spokesperson –  Barrister Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, of a purported transaction between American philanthropist, businessman and software developer, Bill Gates and the leadership of the Nigerian House of Representatives. 

According to the statement published by DailyPost, Bill Gates had offered a 10 million dollars bribe to the House of Representatives to favour the acceleration of enactment of a compulsory vaccination bill, despite health authorities’ stand that there is no cure for COVID-19 yet. 

“Opposition Coalition (CUPP) has intercepted very credible intelligence and hereby alerts Nigerians of plans by the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Femi Gbajabiamila to forcefully and without adherence to the rules of lawmaking to pass the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 otherwise known as the Compulsory Vaccination Bill which is proposing a compulsory vaccination of all Nigerians even when the vaccines have not been discovered”   

This claim has also been published by other news sites: today.ng, Premium News24 and REXNEWS TV

Infectious Diseases Bill

Since the government introduced the Infectious Disease Bill to replace the Quarantine Act, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has enthusiastically supported the proposed Bill which has also become a subject of controversy. The bill seeks to strengthen the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and make it more proactive and “not just reactive and function when there is an outbreak.”

It empowers the President, the Minister of Health as well as the Director-General of NCDC, and the institutions they head, to make regulations on quarantining, vaccination and prevention of infectious diseases in Nigeria. The bill also makes it mandatory for travellers to be vaccinated against any infectious disease before entering or leaving the country. 

Nigerians have reacted to this new bill (also referred to as the NCDC Bill) and are against replacing it with the quarantine act. Some civil society groups see this law as a threat to human rights. Similarly, a handful of citizens were also concerned at the speedy passage the bill has received from the lower chamber. 

However, Femi Gbajabiamila has defended the bill, stating that its content and timing were appropriate. He made it known that the legislation is in the best interest of Nigerians and that citizens would be allowed to contribute to the draft law during a public hearing.

Again, the Nigeria Governors Forum has criticised the bill and asked for it to be stepped down, but the lower parliament remains adamant.

Verification 

The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, in response, refuted the claims, in this report which Dubawa found also mirrors the views of lawmakers to the CUPP’s allegation, including that of the speaker, Femi Gbajbiamila, who characterises the claims as ridiculous. 

In the bid to set the record straight, the House of Representatives has set up an ad-hoc staff committee to investigate the allegations of the CUPP.  While the claim is still under investigation, the committee, as part of the proceeding, summoned the parties involved, including the media that published the information. 

DailyPost which originated the publication has apologised for publishing the story. In the same vein, Vanguard Newspaper has taken it down from its online platforms and has also apologised.

Further, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation denied the widely circulated statement during the hearing. PREMIUM TIMES quoted the representative of the foundation, Paulin Basinga as saying, 

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently been made aware of an allegation circulating in certain elements of the Nigerian media that the Foundation was involved in a payment purportedly made to the Nigeria House of Representatives. Any such allegations are entirely false and without merit”

However, the CUPP spokesperson – Imo Ugochinyere – who made the allegation, was absent at the hearing. He sent a representative, Tochukwu Uhazurike (legal counsel to CUPP), who the committee told to produce his principal at the next sitting.

Conclusion

The claim remains unproven. Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the House of Representative have disclaimed the accusation but the committee investigating the claim in the House of Representative is still continuing its work. Importantly, the main accuser,  Mr Ugochinyere- author of the claim- has so far failed to provide proof in support of his claims, rendering them baseless. The fact-check will be updated as soon as new evidence is available.

Lateef Sanni is a graduate of mass communication from Lagos state university. Before joining Dubawa, he belonged to the association of campus journalists where he was trained on the basics of fact-checking, a tool for combating misinformation in Nigeria. He joined the Dubawa team as a researcher and content developer for Dubawa's social media platforms. He consistently works to improve the dissemination of fact-checks through pictures [fact cards] and videos.

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