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How true is claim Nigeria has second highest paternity fraud rate in the world?

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Claim: Nigeria has the second highest paternity fraud rate in the world at 30%

Verdict: The claim that Nigeria is a country with the second highest paternity fraud rate in the world is False as there has not been any national survey of “paternity fraud” in Nigeria in recent time. 

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In recent time, conversations around paternity and paternity fraud have been dominant in Nigerian media space following a recent incident.

An Instagram post by Goldmynetv has it that The Managing Director of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Adamu Nuru, was having an affair with a married junior staff -Moyo Thomas- who recently relocated to Canada with her two children. It was reported that she confessed to her husband, Tunde Thomas, that her FCMB boss is the biological father of their two kids while in the US. In consequence of this confession, Tunde, allegedly, lost his life.

A screenshot of Goldmynetv’s post showing pictures of Adamu Nuru, Moyo and Tunde Thomas, and their kids.

The controversy around this incident has brought the issue of paternity fraud (when a man is incorrectly identified to be the biological father of a child). 

In reaction to the story, Twitter users have circulated a post suggesting that Jamaica has the highest rate of Paternity Fraud in the world at 34.6% next to Nigeria which allegedly ranks second at 30%.

A screenshot of the claim made by @AyanfeOfGod

This particular post, published by @ayanfeOfGod, has amassed over 300 Retweets and 586 Likes but it’s just one out of the many other handles that published the claim.

Verification

To verify the claims of the widely shared presentation, Dubawa’s first point of contact was the Twitter User, @AyanfeOfGod, who published it on Saturday. While we asked how he got the image, he referred us to a July 29th, 2020 Post by Juan Pedrito who in his tweet, at the time, suggested that the image had been in circulation even before then as he mentioned that he brought back the post.

A screenshot of Juan Pedrito’s  July 29th, 2020 post

Further, Dubawa conducted a Reverse Image Search which reveals that this presentation was first published in 2017. Interestingly, on checking the profile, the source turned out to be Twitter User, Juan Pedrito, again. Dubawa quickly sent him a direct message asking him where he got the image. He replied, saying he took the picture of the presentation “during a lecture at UWI Mona” – The University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. Further questions as regarding the source the statistics sent to him have not been responded to at the time this check was published.

A screenshot of the first time Juan Pedrito published the presentation.

While waiting for Juan’s response, a keyword search on paternity fraud in Nigeria was carried out. The search produced the following results: Pulse.ng (2018), Vanguard (2019) and Thisdaylive.com (2018) and Jamaica Observer (2020). 

While Pulse Nigeria in its reports passed off the statistics as bluffs, it also suggested that the controversial statistic could have been triggered by the “infamous Durex survey that crowned Nigerian women the most unfaithful in the world.”  Recall, in 2012, Channels Tv published a  survey conducted by condom manufacturer, Durex, in which 29,000 people in 36 countries were interviewed and Nigerian women were ranked the most unfaithful in the world.

The Vanguard highlighted that a doctor, Mr Ayodele Ayodeji of Paternity Test Nigeria, a Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, test centre in Lagos, affirmed the claims of the presentation after it went viral in late 2018. Mr Ayodele purportedly said that there is one case of paternity fraud out of every four paternity test conducted at the centre.

Conversely, the publication by ThisDay claimed that 3 out of 10 children in Nigeria have non-biological fathers. This article also inferred that Nigerians don’t go for the test as there is a dearth of laboratory facilities in the country and many citizens can’t afford it. Dubawa was forced to ask, how did they arrive at the initial statistics.

“It is no longer news that paternity fraud in Nigeria is the second highest in the world with three out of 10 children said to have non-biological fathers. But what seems most worrisome is that there is typically little possibility to verify biological fatherhood with the dearth of laboratory facilities in the country for testing; and where it exists, only the few rich Nigerians can afford it.”

Jamaica Observer cited Nigeria as the African country with the most paternity fraud in the world (contrary to the second position widely attributed to the country)  and wondered if the Jamaicans culprits descended from Nigeria. It wrote: “Paternity fraud is a widespread problem in Jamaica, and one may speculate that it could be related to the ethnicity of the perpetrator, since the African country of Nigeria is said to be the world’s nation with the highest numbers of paternity fraud. While such fraud is present in all ethnicities, one may wonder if most Jamaican women who give jackets are of Nigerian descent.”

Dubawa reached out to the author of this article, Dudley McLean. When Dudley was asked to identify his source, he referred to a publication on thenigerialawyer.com which has the same reference as this report from PulseNG. The two reports made reference to the statement made by Mr Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Co-founder of Stack Diagnostics during an interview with Pulse.

While Pulse had asked Mr Abasi if the statistics which puts Nigeria as the country with the second-highest paternity fraud rate in the world can be considered as fake news, he said: “it isn’t fake news but at the same time, the only way we can know for sure is if an independent study is done that seeks to eliminate sampling biases. In other words, the only study we have about this phenomenon puts it at 3 out of 10, so to a large extent that is factual. An independent study that shows us less or more will also be factual and will dispel the 30% number.”

Also, in the same interview, Mr Abasi gave reasons why the data can not be passed as a ‘gospel truth’. He said,  “As with most health-based statistics in Nigeria, they are either under-reported or exaggerated because the problem typically lies in how the sample is collected. It is possible that there was some sampling bias to this 30% number but even for sampling biases, that number is quite high.”

Similarities in the publications

While all these reports have referred directly and indirectly to the 30% statistics, they all failed to give details (who, where and when the survey was carried out) about the survey that arrived at the conclusion.

Stating the fact

A fact check conducted by Africa Check revealed that there has not been any national survey on “paternity fraud” in Nigeria. This explains why many reports that have quoted the popular statistics have failed to reference a source.

The check featured comments from Chris Olashunde, the Nigeria representative for UK-based DNA testing firm EasyDNA UK. He said there wasn’t data on paternity fraud in Nigeria because it was “a personal thing”.  By personal, he meant most of the paternity tests carried out in the country are done due to mistrust or to resolve conflict, or for immigration purposes. 

He concluded that there was no data to prove the claim that paternity fraud in Nigeria is 30%. “I cannot say whether or not it’s up to 30% because there is no data to prove that in Nigeria. The best you can find is the rate of failure of paternity tests at DNA testing centres.”

This fact check also featured comments from Mr Ayodele Adeniyi who said the “claim that three out of 10 Nigerian men are not the father of their children is correct if we are considering only those who have done paternity testing

This takes us back to a 2012  interview where the statistics is likely to have originated from. In 2012 Daily Post published an interview with an unidentified doctor who said, without reference to any particular study, that available statistics show “that 3 out of every 10 men are not the fathers of their babies. Similarly, 3 out of every 10 children are not fathered by men they have seen as their biological fathers. He also gave the global statistics: “The general statistics by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)/ is that globally, 100, 000 out of 300, 000 men are not the actual fathers of their presumed children.”

Dubawa sent an email to AABB, asking them to confirm the claim but they are yet to respond. However, we found a publication on childsupportanalysis.co.uk speaking to paternity issues. The article, when referring to paternity tests says they don’t show paternity frauds. Why? The website stated that paternity tests don’t show paternity fraud because ‘they were not designed for that purpose and statistics typically have to be designed for a purpose in order to be reliable for that purpose.’

The website also shows where AABB had announced misinterpretations of its data, hence, published a note on the MISCONCEPTIONS IN PARENTAGE TESTING in its 2004 annual reports. The American Association of Blood Banks annually publishes consolidated statistics from many accredited paternity testing services. However. The body has announced that its data has been misinterpreted in the past, hence, conveyed the essence of the exclusion rate. 

“It is important to understand the significance of the exclusion rate, especially since the statistic has been misinterpreted in the past. For example, several organizations have used the exclusion rate to suggest improperly that 30% of men are misled into believing they are biological fathers of children. This suggestion is incorrect. The exclusion rate includes a number of factors….”

CONCLUSION

The claim that Nigeria is a country with the second highest paternity fraud rate in the world is False as there has not been any national survey of “paternity fraud” in Nigeria. Besides this, there are other red flags to suggest the statistics were baseless. First, the presentation conveying these statistics fails to attribute his claims to any credible source, so as news and articles using the same  reference, hence, it is safe to say the content of the presentation was made up.  It is also important to state that the statistics given in many reports were based on results of paternity tests carried out in individual paternity testing labs (results may vary from lab to lab). They are usually representations of the tested samples and not of the general population of Nigeria.

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