Foreign Affairs Ministry dismisses doctored press release on travel advisory

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied issuing a press release that advised Nigerians against travelling to countries surrounding Ukraine. 

In a disclaimer shared on its official Twitter handle, the ministry tagged the press release as fake as it did not originate from them.  

The ministry urged the public to disregard the content of this press release and shared its official handles on social media for the public to visit for trusted content. 

“The attention of the ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a fake press release in circulation, dated 18th February, 2022, on a supposed travel advisory,” part of the disclaimer read. 

Screenshot to the disclaimer Twitter post by MFA. 

The fear of invasion has been on the rise in recent months as Russian troops were found around Ukraine’s border. Although Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, described these troops as peacemakers, the west believes this is only the first step to an invasion. 

In line with this, the United States (U.S) had warned its citizens to evacuate Ukraine. 

Recently, Putin deployed these troops into Eastern Ukraine to ‘maintain peace’ in two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

Amidst this unrest, a press release allegedly from the Nigerian ministry of foreign affairs advised Nigerians against travelling to countries neighbouring Ukraine. 

Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Russia to the east, Moldova and Romania to the southwest, and Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hereby advised that all intending Nigerian nationals wishing to travel to Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova should be on hold until the month ending May 2022 as their embassy and the consulate have stopped issuance of visa with immediate effect,” part of the fake press release read.  

The press release which had the logo of the ministry with reference number MFA/PR/2022/18 and date of 18/02/2022 was signed by Esther Sunsuwa. 

This press release claimed this advisory is necessary due to the war alert from the world power to its citizens to leave those countries within 48 hours. 

Screenshot of the Press release accredited to the MFA.

A Twitter user Emmanuel (@ubonhabsi) who had earlier shared this press release condemning the poorly written release had to update his post. 

Screenshot of initial Twitter post by Emmanuel. 
Screenshot of update shared. 

Aside from the glaring grammatical errors found in the fake press release, comparing both press releases and others shared by the ministry in the past, it is easy to identify this as a doctored document.

Although the website of the ministry was not accessible to examine its press releases, we went through the releases shared on its Twitter page. 

We observed that the fake press release had the logo of the ministry while other press releases by the ministry had the Nigerian coat of arms on it. 

Also, while the fake release had a reference number and date at the top right, the ministry’s release had a number at the top left, then the date comes after the signature at the bottom of the press release. 

Also, original press releases usually carry a title but the fake one did not. There is also a difference in the font size, type and text colour used. 

Both press releases compared with observations highlighted. 

The increasing rate of doctored documents calls for vigilance and the need to double check content with trusted sources.

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