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Fake News: Purveyors hijack government directive on NIN-SIM registration

By Lateef Sanni

In recent time, it has been observed that fake news thrives on trending topics in the media. Hence, it was no surprise when Dubawa started receiving claims around the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) directive that telecommunications service providers should block subscribers who refuse to link their SIM cards to their National Identity Number (NIN). A two-week deadline was given for the directive to be implemented or subscribers would lose their SIM Cards. 

This directive continues to generate conversations on social media as citizens began to flood the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC) offices across the country to beat the deadline with no regard for the covid-19 guidelines. Amidst the social media rush came different forms of misinformation; the circulation of fake deadlines and wrong venues for enrollment. The emergence of a parody account of the NIMC, the introduction of a fake NIMC app and misinformation about enrollment charges. All of which have been addressed by the commission.

Dubawa also received and checked a number of claims. One of such claims is the Facebook post by Bas Yahemeka Bijleveld. The Facebook user, in his post, wrote that the government was forcing Nigerians to link their NIN with SIM cards to make tracking of social media users easier. He said the initiative would make it easy for the Federal Government to hire a company to compile a list of social media users who use some keywords to make targeted genocide easier. He further encouraged the use of hacked sims to escape the supposed plot. This post generated mixed reactions with more people supporting the claim that the government had an ulterior motive. It has been shared 432 times and has a total of 82 comments and 132 likes. However, when Dubawa checked, there was no sufficient evidence to prove the veracity of the post. According to available information, the policy as directed by the Federal Government is for security purposes and to ensure more controls over SIM ownership in Nigeria. 

As the conversation continues, another Facebook post claimed that the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) was issuing free data and airtime bonus to customers for linking their NIN to their SIM cards. This claim turned out false as the page sharing the post was found to be posing as NCC but it was a fake page. Similarly, another claim said  NIMC is conducting NIN registration online, but, this time, the information was shared on WhatsApp along with a link that leads to a fraudulent website

With time, it became important to announce that NIMC was not offering N10,000 and 5GB data to old sim users because that was the next trick fake news purveyors were using to pull traffic to their website. 

The NIN registration is still ongoing; the federal government extended the deadline to April 6 to give Nigerians and legal residents more time to integrate their NIN with the SIM. Dubawa urges all internet users to thread gently and surf with the consciousness that every information has the potential to mislead. 

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  • Has AstraZeneca Vaccine been approved for use in Nigeria?

True. On Thursday, February 18th, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, approved the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria.

  • When is the new deadline for NIN registration?

The federal government has extended the deadline for phone users to link their SIM numbers to their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to April 6 to give Nigerians and legal residents more time to integrate their NIN with the SIM.

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  • “BREAKING NEWS… BOKO HARAM has Poison 80,000 COW from the North…” – Viral Screenshot

The information contained in the image above is too sensitive and capable of inciting fears in people’s minds, hence, should be disregarded. Over time, with the help of fact checking, the rush to be the first to break news has been identified as one of the contributing factors to the spread of fake news. Many of the information discharged in a rush is not well researched. Therefore, internet users should watch out for content with the tag, ‘Breaking News’, especially one from an unidentified source, they can be misleading. 

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