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MISLEADING: Viral video of money bags not found in Bongo’s residence

Claim: A viral video on Facebook showing men arrested with bags of money was said to be money stashed away in the house of the ousted Gabon president, Ali Bongo.

Verdict: MISLEADING. Though the recovered money was truly connected to the president, as his eldest son was at the arrest scene, it wasn’t found at his residence.

Full Text

After the military takeover that ended Ali Bongo’s 14-year reign as president of Gabon, his supporters are doing all they can to keep track of his belongings from being seized by the military leadership.

As found in videos shared widely on Facebook, some wads of cash were discovered in different travelling bags at a residential house. Two men had forlorn expressions, depicting their precarious situation as they were videoed. Men in a Gabonese military outfit were observed at the scene, whose presence in the video indicated that they intended to arrest the men seen with the money.

It was discovered that the man seen with the money was Iann Ngoulou, the Chief of staff to the president’s son. Noureddine Bongo, the General Coordinator of Presidential Affairs, was the other man apprehended at the scene.

However, some posters claimed that the video was made at the president’s residence, who has been under house arrest since the successful coup. An instance is Mc Dave D Comedian, a Nigerian comedian and social media influencer, who urged Africans to watch the nefarious actions of their corrupt leaders while narrating the video.

In his caption, he wrote, “[Update:] see the amount of money that was found in [Ali Bongo]’s house.”

As of September 1, the post had gained more than 16,000 reactions, 893 comments, and 5,000 reshares. 

Another page, ZimDaily, said the video supports some analysts’ points about the good side of a coup. The caption reads, 

“Huge amounts of money were found hidden in the residence of the ousted dictator, Ali Bongo, illustrating why some analysts say coups may be more effective as they catch such corrupt leaders off guard.”

The post garnered 99 reactions, 40 comments, and 12 reshares.

However, available reports indicate that the president is placed on house arrest, which throws previous speculations into doubt, hence the need for a fact-check.

Verification

DUBAWA confirmed Ali Bongo’s house arrest via a report published on Sahara Reporters, where he pleaded with loved ones to “make noise” and secure his safety. 

In the report, he said that his son and wife are somewhere else, although without freedom. We discovered that the son he’s referring to is Noureddin Bongo, his close adviser and a political stalwart.

Ali and his son, Noureddine. Source: X/ (@NoureddinBV).

We easily identified the president’s son, Mr Bongo, in the viral video. This means he’s truly not with his father.

Noureddin Bongo (Left) with Ian Ngoulou (right)  in the video.

We ran keyword searches and found a 2-minute, 25-second multimedia report on Larry Madowo’s verified Instagram page. Mr Madowo, a CNN international correspondent, indicated that the amount in the bags of money was up to 4 billion CFA Francs (about $6.6 million).

He also revealed that the location was Ian Ngoulou’s house, not the president’s.

Conclusion

The money displayed in the video is connected to the president, but it wasn’t found at his residence. Therefore, the claim is misleading.

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