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Saudi Arabia’s flag was hoisted in NEMA office but it had nothing to do with Islamisation

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Claim: A screenshot of Nigeria’s National Flag and NEMA flag alongside the Saudi Arabian Flag is making the rounds on social media platforms. It suggests that it is part of plans to Islamize Nigeria.   

The screenshot making the rounds on various social medical platforms depicting the flag of Nigeria, NEMA, and that of Saudi Arabia is the norm at any official event between two countries. In this case, it was an event hosted by NEMA at their headquarters in Abuja to commission the newly upgraded ‘Emergency Call Centre’ Supported by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Thus, the alleged narrative tied to the picture is false. 

Full Story    

A picture surfaced on different social media platforms showcasing the flag of Nigeria, that of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) alongside the flag of Saudi Arabia. The flags were arranged in a building that appears to be an office in which the claimant alleged was the NEMA Headquarters in Abuja. 

The National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria was established via Act 12 as amended by Act 50 of 1999, to manage disasters in Nigeria. Therefore, from inception, NEMA has been tackling disaster related issues through the establishment of concrete structures and measures.

In the acclaimed picture, frames of President Buhari, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, and the NEMA boss, Mustapha Habib Ahmed, were hung above the flags. 

The claimant implied that the presence of the Saudi Arabian Flag signals plans to ‘Islamize’ Nigeria. “This is what I saw today in NEMA Office Abuja, they have brought out their flag. We must continue our prayer for the nation in more serious ways. Are we still wondering what the agenda is all about?”  

On Twitter, the same claim resurfaced, with the heading: “This is Nigeria National Emergency Management Agency Office, Abuja. #Taliban”. The post attracted over 2,000 interactions. One user, Roboticanimation (@newbreed1914), even commented that “This confirmed my understanding that Nigeria is stylishly under Saudi Arabia influence.”  Another user, Badman Khaliberry (@Iam_khaliberry) added that “That’s because buhari is a religionist, him time go finish soon ,,, we will return back to a progressing Nigeria.” 

The post attracted similar comments that suggested users’ ‘believability’ about the claim. It was also shared by a Facebook user,  Dr. Josh Onyekwelu Chuckuemeka, who implied that  “it is evidence that plans to islamize Nigeria are on course with the hoisting of this flag.”

This claim,  emerged days after killings in Jos unfolded along religious lines. A sensitive topic in the Nigerian public sphere that, if ignored, could trigger discord and sow a seed of distrust among the populace. DUBAWA ventures to uncover the truth in the matter. 

Verification  

Preliminary investigations carried out by DUBAWA  revealed that the Saudi Arabian flag was actually hoisted at the NEMA office, Abuja. However, the primary reason behind this act was merely for symbolic courtesy.   On Friday the 13th of August 2021, the National Emergency   Management Agency held an event to commission a newly upgraded ‘Emergency Call Centre’ Supported by King Salman of  Saudi Arabia.

NEMA MD, Mustapha Habib Ahmed and the Saudi Arabian representatives while at the event in full glare of the flags behind them
The NEMA MD, delivering a speech at the event

As such, the flags were placed there during the event to showcase the ongoing mutuality between the two nations–Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. 

The event was covered by National Dailies alongside  the actual narrative that brought about the Saudi Arabian Flag in the NEMA office. 

Still at the event.

DUBWA further reached out to NEMA via a phone call regarding  the claim. In response,  NEMA’S Head of Media and Public Relations, Manzo Ezekiel  explained that:  “the event was an official engagement and it was normal to hoist Flags of countries involved. He acknowledged that he was aware of the heralding claims and clarified that “the allegation is false as the Agency has not hoisted any strange flag. The Nigerian National Flag and that of NEMA are the only flags in the offices of the Agency.

“It is unfortunate that the picture in circulation was taken by suspected mischief makers on Friday 13th August 2021, at the commissioning of NEMA’s newly upgraded Emergency Call Centre.

“The Centre was upgraded with support from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, which has also provided food assistance to persons affected by insurgency in the North East and banditry in the North West in 2018 and this year.” 

He added that  “Flags are very important national symbols. Therefore, it was normal to have flags of Nigeria and that of Saudi Arabia placed behind representatives of the two nations at a bilateral function such as the commissioning of the upgraded Call Centre that was funded by an agency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the benefits of Nigerians.

“It should be noted that present at the function were representatives of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia and a team from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre. Afterwards, the Saudi Flag was immediately removed.

“This clarification has become imperative to correct the false alarm raised by purveyors of fake news with mischievous intention to misinform the public and create wrong impressions about the Agency.

“The General Public is therefore advised to disregard the false alarm and failed campaign of calumny.” Mr. Ezekiel clarifies. 

Dubawa went further to examine the image, using an image forensics tool. Results show that the image was NOT altered in any way and also did not emerge anywhere on the internet before Friday 13th, 2021 but after (the day of the event at NEMA). 

Results of the acclaimed image subjected to forensics. Results show the image was not altered and most have been taken on the day of the event.

Conclusion

The Narrative attached to the acclaimed picture making the rounds is false. The Saudi Arabian flag, though hoisted at   NEMA office,  was only because of an event held to commission  the Emergency call centre supported by King Salman of Saudi Arabia. This claim is false.

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