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  • How scammers pose as Zenith Bank’s Twitter help page to defraud unsuspecting customers

    In March this year, Mr Emmanuel Benedict, went to the ATM to withdraw the sum of N30, 000 from his Zenith bank account. Customary to the ATM’s maximum withdrawal limit of N10, 000 per transaction, he decided to make 3 separate withdrawals of N10, 000. 

    While the first 2 were successful, the third transaction was not.  The cash was not dispensed and the transaction was labelled an error.  However, minutes later, Mr Emmanuel was debited with a N10,000 transaction that was earlier confirmed an error by the ATM.

    Panicked and worried about his money, he sent an email to his bank (Zenith bank), informing it about the situation and to request for the transaction to be reversed.

    He said, “The situation in this country is hard enough and N10,000 is a lot of money that can even feed a family.”

    Thankfully, the bank replied to him and assured him of an action within 24 hours. However, 3 days later when he did not get a reply from the bank, he sent a follow up mail that was replied 2 days later. This time, the bank asked for his account number, and the details of the transaction and promised to look into the problem.  Yet again,  nothing was done days later and Mr Emmanuel,   already vexed and anxious, contacted the bank via their Twitter page.

    “I was already very worried and depressed at this juncture” he said, “I switched to sending a message via @Zenithbank official twitter handle.”

    When Mr Emmanuel dropped his complaint on the official Twitter timeline of the bank, the response he got was immediate but it was from another Twitter handle:

    (@zenlthbankllve) “Customer Care Unit a”.  Desperate for answers, he believed it was Zenith bank finally showing some concerns.  Mr Emmanuel was then given some instructions, which he enthusiastically followed, at the end, he gave them the digits on his ATM card, his ATM card pin, and the one-time password (OTP) in his possession.

    A screenshot of the “Customer care Unit a” posing as Zenith Bank help page

    However, just minutes later, after having given out his financial details and was expecting a solution, he received a debit alert of an undisclosed amount he knew nothing about. It was then that he realised that he had been defrauded and the Twitter page he thought was genuine was not, has just 0 followers, follows only 1 person, and was only created in April 2022.  

    “I unfortunately got defrauded while trying to recover money debited from my account in error on 26/03/2022. The most painful part of it is that the money has still not been reversed, despite my writing severally to Zenith Bank,” Mr Emmanuel told DUBAWA. 

    He added, “I emptied everything in the account. Transferred a huge sum to my wife’s account. I actually lost a contract because of it though. Currently, I’m not using that account for fear of being defrauded further. I think the account is compromised.”

    But it was not just Mr Emmanuel that was defrauded by the same fraudsters posing as Zenith bank customer care unit. Ms Eunice Abhulimen also admitted that the same charlatans defrauded her. 

    “I was scammed by them too, please you all should be careful,” she tweeted DUBAWA, while promising to provide details of her experience.

    Another Twitter user who was also defrauded by the similar scammers replied to DUBAWA’s tweet, adding,

    “You guys are fraudsters. You think you can debit someone of 714k for account maintenance and you keep avoiding your DMS. Reverse that money before we sue.”

    Apparently, the multiple replies and comments  by customers on this fraudulent Twitter page posing as Zenith Bank, show a good number of Zenith Bank customers still regard the page as valid and legitimate .

    A screenshot of customers’ comments highlighted in green. It seems to indicate  they regard the page as a valid one

    READ ALSO: What secrets do the BVN hold?

    The science behind the scheme

    Bank customers usually drop complaints on the official Twitter handles of their respective banks. It is on this premise that these fraudulent schemes are built. In this case, they pose as a Zenith bank customer unit and respond to the usually desperate and vulnerable customers with an additional warming message that redirects them to a WhatsApp chat.

    “A Resolution Response Has Been Provided Through Our Live Customer Assistant WhatsApp Channel Via (09049298340) Or Follow The Link (https://wa.link/0hlgzc) To  Start A Live Resolution Session With Online Representatives. Thank You.” 

    On the WhatsApp chat that is provided via the link or the provided phone number, customers are presented with options, and whichever they choose, they are asked to fill up a form via a link provided. The form is designed with Zenith bank’s logo and provides spaces for customers to fill up their account details, ATM card number, pin etc. 

    Afterwards, with customer financial details now in their grasp, they access the bank account, and carry out transactions. Nonetheless, because of the one-time password (OTP) policy, the unsuspecting customer needs to confirm the transaction by sending the received  OTP to confirm the transaction. 

    A screenshot of the WhatsApp conversations presenting unsuspecting users with options, links and subsequently  requesting the OTP

    Why is it hard to track scheme?

    The fraudsters have a sophisticated chain of activity. First, their username on twitter is like that of Zenith bank but there is always an intentional alteration of the spelling. On a mild look, it looks like it is spelled as “ZenithBankplc” but on a closer look, the spelling is trickily altered (zelthbankplc), making it hard for Twitter’s algorithm to notice a duplication and flag it up.  

    A screenshot of the fraudulent Twitter page with an altered spelling of Zenith bank highlighted green

    Scammers also create multiple but similar pages and are constantly evolving. So even if Twitter blocks the other, another one is still functional. These pages are interchangeably affiliated.

    A screenshot of the fraudulent page sanctioned by Twitter as highlighted green. Also circled are results of the multiple forms this page appears on Twitter 

    Noticeably, the forms they use to collect customer data is called “my forms app,” an application that allows users to create free online forms. 

    These forms are authenticated, and every link is unique to each potential victim. The forms are immediately taken down once the victim’s financial data is collected.

    A screenshot of the form created using “forms.app” taken down after a victim’s financial data is collected

    Additionally, another reason that makes it hard to track this scheme is that the conversations with unsuspecting customers are not carried out on Twitter, but on WhatsApp, where victims are isolated, vulnerable and chats are encrypted.

    On Twitter, Zenith bank has been warning users to be wary of schemes seeking financial details, but the bank is yet to announce  a disclaimer about this particular page (Customer Care Unit a) that is posing as a part of its operations. 

    Although Twitter has also blocked some of the pages for violations, a good number of them are still functional, and are still defrauding unsuspecting members of the public. 

    Just 3 days ago, a user on Twitter shared how he was nearly defrauded by fraudsters:

    Screenshot of a user’s recent complaint over the fraudulent activity posing as Zenith bank

    When DUBAWA reached out to Zenith Bank on Twitter regarding the imposter page, the bank replied, 

    “Please disregard any message from unverified accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) as you can now reach us on our newly launched and verified ZIVA ZENITH WHATSAPP PLATFORM on this line 07040004422. Neither do we engage our customers via the platform. Also note that you might ½.”

  • Zamfara gold deposit belongs to federal government, not state

    A twitter user claimed that gold deposits in Zamfara State belong to Zamfara State while Niger Delta oil belongs to Nigeria. 

    False. All gold deposits across Nigeria belong to the Federal Government.

    Full text

    A twitter user, Terry, claimed that Zamfara gold belongs to Zamfara State.

    The claim, posted on his handle, @_terry2020, implies double standard in ownership of natural resources across the country. 

    Terry was reacting to a Daily Trust story in which Zamfara State said it would supply gold worth N5 billion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

    “Niger Delta Oil belongs to Nigeria. Zamfara gold belongs to Zamfara,” the tweet read. 

    A screenshot of the claim that Zamfara gold belongs to Zamfara.

    But how true is the claim that gold deposits in Zamfara State actually belong to the state and not the Federal Government?

    Verification

    The Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, vests the ownership of all minerals, including gold, in the Federal Government. 

    The Act vests control of all properties and minerals in Nigeria in the Federal Government and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.

    “All lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall from the commencement of the Act be acquired by the Federal Government in accordance with the Land Use Act. Property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with provisions of the Act,” a post on Mondaq explained.

    To mine gold in Zamfara or any other part of the country, a licence must be obtained from the Federal Government through the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

    Recently, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara disclosed that Zamfara had partnered some investors to mine gold in the state, displaced illegal miners and organised local miners into cooperative groups under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI).

    Note that Governor Matawalle also recently disclosed that the gold to be sold to the CBN would come from the state’s gold reserve purchased over time. 

    “For a start, we have purchased 31 kilogramme of gold, wholly mined and refined by our artisanal miners. We will subsequently continue to buy gold from our local miners so as to gradually improve the reserve. The precious metal would be deposited in a bank,” the governor said.

    This implies that it does not own the gold but actually purchased it from the market. 

    The Federal Government has also debunked the claim that gold deposits in Zamfara State belong to the state.

    Special Assistant to the President on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, tweeted using his official twitter handle, @toluogunlesi, that 

    “Zamfara gold (like all other resources) is owned by @NigeriaGov, on behalf of Nigeria. Anyone who wants to mine it has to apply for a license, mine, & pay taxes, royalties etc. Anybody can apply for a license; Lagos or Rivers can set up a mining company & apply to mine Zamfara gold,” Ogunlesi tweeted

    A screenshot of Ogunlesi’s debunking of the claim.

    The presidential aide explained further that gold mining in Zamfara is business regulated by the Federal Government, just as the oil in the Niger Delta. 

    “If you choose to believe that Zamfara gold belongs to Zamfara (it doesn’t!), you’re doing yourself. Someone else will make a move, get a license, and go and make money. That’s why it’s always important to be sure your mindset is not blocking the opportunities available to you,” he tweeted.

    Ogunlesi explained that any state in the Niger Delta can also own a modular refinery, and the state can sell the products to the government, but that does not make the oil in the Niger Delta the property of the state. 

    “Nothing stops South South States from setting up Modular Refineries. All they need to do is set up a company and apply for a license, or invest in existing companies. @NigeriaGov invested $10m in Waltersmith Refinery in Imo, Edo State Govt invested N700m in AIPCC in Edo,” he explained

    Similarly. a twitter user, Omo Iya Bolaji, explained that Zamfara State bought the gold from miners and sold it to the CBN.

    “A state (Zamfara) is competing with public entities and buying gold from the artisanal miners and selling to the FG who want to deposit gold bars. It’s business and not resource control,” he tweeted on his handle, @Adekbolagi. 

    A screenshot of a twitter user adding context.

    Conclusion

    Evidence shows that all gold deposits across Nigeria belong to the Federal Government. Zamfara State government maintains a gold deposit which stores gold purchased from the market. In any case, the Federal Government has also debunked the claim that gold deposits in Zamfara State belong to the state. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

  • Twitter user claims Obasanjo inherited $3bn in foreign reserve but how true is this?

    A twitter user, Chijioke, claimed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo inherited $3bn and left $54bn in foreign reserves when he left office.

    False. In 1999 when Obasanjo assumed office, Nigeria’s foreign reserve was US$5.65billion and US$51.91billion in 2007 when he left office. 

    FULL TEXT

    A twitter user, Chijioke, claimed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo met  $3 billion and left  $54 billion in foreign reserve at the end of his eight years in office.

    He tweeted on his handle, @Ekwulu, that “OBJ has just stirred the hornet’s nest and the BMC will come for him. OBJ inherited a Pariah state courtesy of Abacha, foreign reserves of about $3 Billion, oil price of between $10-$11, then Billions of dollars in debt. He paid off our debts and left about $US54 Billion in reserves.”

    This comment is only one of many debates and opinions on social media triggered by President Obasanjo after saying  that the country has never been in such a bad state. In a report by the Punch Newspaper, the former President said this in Abuja at a consultative dialogue attended by various socio-cultural groups including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum,

    I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in. Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country,” he was quoted as saying.

    This twitter handle has a following of 13, 200, and the engagements on this tweet continue to rise. So far, it stands at almost 400.

    Culled from Twitter.com

    What are Foreign Exchange Reserves?

    The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) defines Foreign exchange reserves as assets held on reserve by a monetary authority, like the CBN, in foreign currencies. These reserves back liabilities and influence monetary policy. They include foreign banknotes, deposits, bonds, treasury bills and other foreign government securities. These assets serve many purposes but most significantly they ensure that a government or its agency has backup funds if their national currency rapidly devalues or to pay for imports by way of letter of credit. Foreign exchange reserves are also called international or external reserves.

    Do all countries hold foriegn reserves in the same capacity? 

    No. The capacity for holding foreign reserves, known as foreign reserve behaviour, differs across countries. For instance, developing countries hold more reserves than in developed countries. Before the 1990s developing countries could hold enough reserves to equal at least three months of imports. 

    This practice was replaced by the Guidotti-Greenspan rule after the emerging market crisis of the 1990s. The Guidotti rule pertains to reserve adequacy metric that determines that developing countries should hold enough reserves to cover all foreign short-term debt or those within one-year maturity. It served as a precautionary measure, to self-ensure against the effects of future crises such as massive withdrawals of short-term foreign capital. 

    VERIFICATION

    The official website of the Central Bank of Nigeria is the accessible monetary data bank and referral for information on the country’s financial system. This data bank serves the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other financial-economic publications. 

    Dubawa gathered information from this website as well as graphical representations on other financial publications such as DataBod, The Global Economy.com 

    Image: DataBod, Nigeria’s External Reserves monthly updates.

    Nigeria’s external reserves are largely from the proceeds of production and sales of crude oil.

    In 1999 at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation under President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s foreign reserve stood at US$5,649,775 (approx. 5.65billion) by the end of his government by 2007 the reserve stood at US$51.907,040,000 9 (approx. 51.91billion). 

    By 2008, Nigeria’s foreign reserve hit peak growth at US$62.40 billion becoming the twenty-fourth largest reserves holder in the world. Algeria was the country with the highest reserves in Africa, according to a paper in the CBN Journal of Applied Statistics; Determinants of foreign reserves in Nigeria: An autoregressive distributed lag approach. Other important holders between 2006-2008 were Libya, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa.

    Here is a tabular representation of the data on Nigeria’s foreign reserve from 1999 – 2007 by IndexMundi, a data portal gathering facts and statistics from multiple sources and turning them into easy to use visuals. 

    1999-2007 Foreign reserve:

    1999$5,649,725,000
    2000$10,099,450,000
    2001$10,646,600,000
    2002$7,566,806,000
    2003$7,415,088,000
    2004$17,256,540,000
    2005$28,632,050,000
    2006$42,735,470,000
    2007$51,907,040,000

    Also, in 1999 the price of crude oil fluctuated continually. According to data compiled by Macrotrends, a research platform for long-term investments, crude oil cost in January 1999 US$20.17 and by September 1999 the reserve had risen to US$37.94. 

    CONCLUSION

    The claim that President Obasanjo inherited US$3bn in foreign reserves is false. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with NewsWireNGR to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

  • Spraying of Naira notes is an offence punishable by imprisonment in Nigeria

    Some Facebook users recently argued that spraying of naira notes is an offence in Nigeria. They were reacting to the footage of the wedding of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter where guests were seen spraying Naira notes.

    True: the claim that “spraying of naira notes is an offence” is true. Section 21 of the CBN Act 2007 clearly states that spraying of Naira notes is an offence punishable by six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both for offenders.

    Full Text

    President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, got married to Mohammed Sani Sha’aban, at the Presidential Villa on Friday, September 4.

    On Sunday, September 6, Sahara Reporters published footage of some moments at the wedding showing guests as they spray money on the smiling couple.

    The footage has generated over 2,000 comments and about 5,000 shares on Sahara Reporters Facebook page, as of Saturday, September 12, with Nigerians arguing on the legality, or not, of spraying of Naira notes.

    While some claimed that spraying of Naira notes is illegal, others argued that there is nothing wrong with it.

    For instance, a Facebook user, Baffa Garba wrote: “I don’t see anything wrong here it’s just Naira and of course N200 Naira notes even an ordinary marriage may have better than this,  they are both from big background they have friends and relatives who can do it”

    “Let be sincere with ourselves here,what do you expect them to spray is paper,or leaves, certainly it must be naira even if it is common Nigerian wedding ceremony naira must be sprayed.may God be with us,” another Facebook user, Semiu Adegoke, wrote.

    However, Dare Olowookere, differed in his own submission, claiming that the practice is illegal. 

    “Spraying of naira notes is an offence. CBN spent millions of naira every year for campaign against naira abuse, here the first family children disobeying the law. The CBN Governor might even be at this party. Truly Nigeria is a contradiction under this regime,” Olowokere claimed.

    Verification

    To confirm the veracity of the claim, Dubawa surfed the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s apex monetary authority, for relevant (legislative) documents.

    Section 21 of the CBN Act 2007 deals with tampering with, and trading, in Naira notes. The Act prescribes “imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment for anyone guilty of “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions”.

    The full section is reproduced below: 

    “21. ——(1) A person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on notes and coins imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment.

    (2) A coin or note shall be deemed to have been tampered with if the coin or note has been impaired, diminished or lightened otherwise than by fair wear and tear or has been defaced by stumping, engraving, mutilating, piercing, stapling, writing, tearing, soiling, squeezing or any other form of deliberate and willful abuse whether the coin or note has or has not been thereby diminished or lightened.

    (3) For the avoidance of doubt, spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section.

    (4) It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.

    (5) In this section——

    (i) “Matching” includes spreading scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent.

     (ii) “Spraying” includes adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.”

    The law became necessary in a bid by the CBN to minimize “costs in printing and minting currency.”

    Enforcement of the Act

    Though the law has been in place since 2007, there has been no report of arrests or prosecution for spraying of Naira notes at social events, despite being a prevalent practice in the country.

    The only reported cases of arrest have been about those hawking the notes, not those spraying. Few instances of the reports of such arrests can be found here, here and here

    Also, the CBN’s “Clean Notes Policy” campaign to discourage the practice has not yielded much results.

    A report by The Nation states that enforcing the law has been difficult because it “has had to contend with Nigerians’ culture of spraying money at social events”.

    Even former president Olusegun Obasanjo who signed the bill into law was caught, with pictures, a situation which led to criticisms against the central bank for failing to enforce its laws, according to a Premium Times report.

    Also, controversial former Kogi senator, Dino Melaye, was seen on video spraying notes on a singer, Yinka Ayefele, at his mother’s burial in 2019.

    In 2018, the CBN and commercial banks announced they have resolved to introduce mobile courts to arrest currency hawkers and people who spray at parties.

    “In the near future, there is going to be an introduction of mobile courts to handle such situations and those caught would be dealt with on the spot,” Hamda Ambah, managing director, FSDH Merchant Bank, said on behalf of the Bankers Committee.

    Two years later, nothing has been heard about the proposed mobile court.

    The CBN did not respond to Dubawa‘s email asking for the progress so far made in terms of the enforcement of the Act since 2007.

    Conclusion

    Spraying of Naira notes at social occasions or any other place is an offense, according to the CBN Act 2007. Section 21 of the Act prescribes a fine of N50,000 or six months imprisonment or both for anyone found culpable. 

    However, there is no evidence anyone has been arrested and prosecuted for the offence, despite its prevalence in the country.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

  • What secrets do the BVN hold?

    A WhatsApp Message claimed that an exposed BVN does not give a fraudster access to your money; they’d instead, get information such as Name, Date of Birth and Phone number.

    According to findings, the claim stating that fraudsters won’t be able to do anything with an exposed BVN is on track.

    Full Text

    BVN – Bank Verification Number – has, of late, been a subject of discussion since the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar, opened applications for the N-Power scheme. 

    While some initially embraced the initiative, others later on, who claimed to be victims of hacking, cite vast sums of money they claimed to have lost to exposure of their BVNs.

    These accounts of fraud may not be unconnected to a circulating message which claims that Power was compromised, losing a batch of BVN details. 

    However, N-power, via social media account has since then responded to the circulars, stating that the inferences were false. The agency further advised N-Power beneficiaries to disregard the information. Also, reports by Vanguard and this check by ICIR have set the record straight.

    Meanwhile, enter this WhatsApp message which suggests that leaked BVNs do no more than reveal information such as DOB and such. 

    What risks come with exposing your BVN?

    BVN, as we already established, means Bank Verification Number. The Central Bank of Nigeria introduced it to uniquely verify the identity of each Bank’s customer. The apex bank had argued that this initiative for ‘know your customer’ (KYC) purposes”,  is designed to reduce fraud activities and to increase the efficiency of banking operations. Customers accessing credit facilities would also be an added beneficiary from the CBN’s initiative.

    For a long time, the popular belief was that if a third party got hold of another person’s  BVN, such a person’s account became at risk. Bad actors could use the BVN number to obtain vital financial information from the owner for fraudulent purposes. An excerpt from an article reads, “with your BVN; fraudsters can get your account number, the phone number you use for OTP and the rest of your financial information. With these details, they can take loans on your behalf without your knowledge, use your ATM cards to purchase items online and even withdraw/transfer money from your account.

    However, the information in this article appears to be obsolete if we are to believe this WhatsApp chain message which necessitated this check. According to the claim-author, the “worst that could happen when people have access to your BVN is to know your details (Name, DOB, Phone number, etc.)…”

    Given the conflicting information surrounding the BVN, Dubawa deemed it necessary to set the records straight by reaching out to experts on digital banking.

    Expert opinions

    When we contacted Mr Erhabor Precious Esosa, an account officer in Access Bank, he said he could publish his BVN on Facebook, and nothing would happen. According to the officer, the worst-case scenario was an impostor gaining access to the information about the holder of the account: ‘The only way you can be scammed if your BVN is exposed is if you give personal details about the account. You cannot merely steal money or withdraw money from a person’s account with just the BVN. the person needs to have other personal details which can not be gotten from the BVN that is why the scammers call the account holders to get them.’

    Mr Kent, a banker at the United Bank for Africa (UBA), threw additional light on the topic. He said the readily available information that can be accessed by anyone is the biodata- the date of birth, state address and phone number: “If you give someone your account number, the person can get your BVN through it from a personalised unified platform for banking. However, your account can only be accessed either through OTP or the debit card details linked to your account.

    The UBA banker further added: “So at the end of the day, if one has your BVN, he still needs to get in touch with you before any fraudulent transaction can occur. Either he accesses your debit card and gets details or cajoles you into giving him your OTP code in the disguise of a banker seeing he has accessed your bio-data from your BVN.”

    Similarly, the Central Bank Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor said “BVN is the customer identification number. Disclosing one’s BVN carries the same risks as revealing one’s account number. We all give our account numbers to anyone who may want to transfer money into our accounts.  This is almost the same thing as giving your BVN out.  
    The only risk with BVN is that it exposes all your banking relationships.  It tells banks and those eligible public agencies which have access to the system where you have accounts.”

    In the bid to further clear the air on this topic, Dubawa reached out to some of the applicants of N-Power, asking them if they noticed any strange activity on their bank accounts after applying for the program.

    Ms Lara Oseni, a Lagos based graduate who applied for the scheme, revealed that besides the usual charges from the bank, she has a full account of her monies. She added, “I registered, but money wasn’t deducted from my account. I don’t know where they are getting the information from, I don’t know if it is false or real but so far so good, nothing was deducted from my account. Also, no one around me has complained or said anything about that. I have not gotten any strange message so far aside from bank charges, nothing extra.”

    Mr Oladele, who also applied for the N-Power programme, said he, as well as his friends, have not experienced any unauthorised activities on their bank accounts.

    Even as uncertainty rocks many on Twitter about this topic, people were still registering. Some users have tried to douse the tension by suggesting to others that BVN alone cannot be useful to hackers in defrauding account owners.

    Conclusion 

    According to findings, the claim stating that fraudsters won’t be able to do anything with an exposed BVN is on track.

    The explanations obtained from experts from this field show that no one can withdraw or transfer money from an account with only BVN details. For this to be possible,  additional details which can only be gotten from account owners are needed. It is for this reason that banks advise customers against giving out their bank-related information to unknown callers. 

  • Can a CBN branch house more capital than the 2020 Budget?

    A blog post shared via Facebook put forward a news content in the ‘Gossip’ section of its page that the Finance Minister supposedly confessed to having lost 12.6 trillion Naira over the fire outbreak at the CBN office in Jos.

    The Finance Minister never made such a statement, and she has tagged the news as ‘fake’ in a tweet. Besides, all verification points to the claim as false.  Moreover, the amount (12.6 trillion Naira) in question is more significant than the 2020 annual budget (10.59 trillion Naira) and hence cannot be associated with a CBN branch office.   

    Full Text

    Tragic news has in the past proven to spread even faster than wildfire. Unlike good news, bad news tends to grasp the audience’s notice with so much magnetism that it sinks into their minds more easily than a pebble thrown into a pool of water. The tragic news that befell the country on Tuesday, April 21, was the fire outbreak at the CBN office in Jos. 

    The controversial piece, Saharagist published claims that Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ms Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, made a statement about the Fire outbreak at the CBN office in Jos. According to the report, the Minister confessed to having lost 12.6 trillion Naira as a result of the fire.

    The reports further stated that the Minister confessed on Tuesday, April 21, in Abuja. As quoted by the page, the Minister said: “the country is on a big mess right now, we lost 12.6 trillion Naira over fire outbreak in CBN office in Jos”. 

    This is not the first time we are fact-checking the veracity of similar issues concerning the Finance Minister and public funds. However, our previous findings showed such allegations to be false.

    Verification

    Although a fire actually broke out at the CBN office in Jos, as published by the blog site in question, the Minister of Finance, however, did not confess or make any statement about the loss of 12.6 trillion Naira to the fire. Since the fire, there’s been no report in the mainstream media of the minister’s mention of the loss of public funds to the inferno.

    Furthermore, the Minister herself debunked the news as ‘fake’ on her official verified Twitter handle, a day after it was published (23rd April 2020). She further warned the general public to be aware of fake news.

    Even more red flags!

    This point should have brought our check on the incredibility of the post to an end, but we found another point. Zainab had held a virtual meeting on the same day (April 21) the post claimed she made the statement. However, the topic of the meeting between the minister and the president of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Bandar Hajjar, neither related to the fire outbreak nor had any connection with any statement by the minister.

    Furthermore, the blunders in the text of the post raise eyebrows. The piece displayed ignorance of basic journalistic writing style.

    ”The Nigerian finance minister Mrs Zainab Ahmed has announced the loss of the national fund that was losses due to the Fire outbreak in Jos.”

    The statement above is quoted from the post in question, and the manner it is written evidently shows the fabricated nature of the report. 

    For example, the post mentioned an amount of money that is larger than the country’s 2020 budget of 10.59 trillion Naira, giving the impression that such a huge amount of money could have been kept in cash in one building in any country, let alone in a branch of Nigeria’s central bank.  Also, the blog post exaggerated the fire incident. A factual report by Punch states that the fire affected only one room and that no record was destroyed during the incident. Hence, the assertion that 12.6 trillion Naira was lost via the fire incident is false.

  • President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech

    President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, 29th May 2018 addressed the nation in commemoration of the 19th year of Nigeria’s democracy and the 3rd Anniversary of his administration. In his speech, he made a number of claims which may or may not be true, false or just plain exaggeration.

    CLAIM 1: N200 BILLION HAS BEEN SAVED FROM ELIMINATION OF GHOST WORKERS

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “The Treasury Single Account (TSA) has realized Billions of Naira being saved from maintenance fee payable to banks. N200 Billion has also been saved from elimination of ghost workers in public service.”

    FACTS!

    This claim has been made severally by the government, even though there is no publicly available documentation to support the claim. As a result, we have already sent Freedom of Information letters to the Ministry of Finance to demand details of the amount of money that have been saved from the elimination of ghost workers in the public service.

    Until we are able to get the official figures from the Ministry of Finance, this claim remains UNPROVEN.

    CLAIM 2: 30% OF THE 2016 BUDGET WAS ALLOCATED FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURE FOR THE FIRST TIME

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “In 2016, Government executed an expansionary budget and developed the Strategic Implementation Plan. For the first time, 30% of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure which represents an upward review when compared with the 2015 budget. The SIP was followed by the development of a comprehensive medium-term plan – the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 – 2020.”

    FACTS!

    It is worthy of note that this is not the first time the president will make this claim. In 2015 while he was presenting the 2016 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, President Buhari said “for the first time in many years, capital expenditure will represent 30% of our total budget”.

    However, according to the Budget Office of the Federation, in at least three years since 2008, there had been more than 30% budgetary allocation for capital projects in Nigeria.

    In 2008, under Umaru Musa Yaradua’s government, capital project allocation was actually 35% of the total budget size, a figure which is 7% higher than the 2016 capital expenditure budget.

    Also in 2013, the capital project allocation of the budget was 31.7%.

    It is also worth reiterating that the 2016 budget, as approved by President Buhari has an aggregate expenditure of N6,060,677,358,227 (N6 trillion) and the total release for capital projects, according to the Accountant General, was N1,219,471,747,443 (N1.2 trillion) which then translates to only 20% actually spent on Capital Projects.

    To remove any element of doubt as to the clarity of the President’s statement, we also checked to see if he meant “the first time in his administration” which would refer to 2015-2018. If that is the case, the statement would still be FALSE as even though the 2018 budget was passed by the National Assembly with a total expenditure of N9.1 trillion out of which N2.8 trillion (30%) would be set aside for capital projects, there had actually been an instance of 30% allocation during his administration.

    In 2017, a total expenditure of N7.44 trillion was passed by the National Assembly, out of which N2.99 trillion was for non-debt recurrent spending, while N2.36 trillion was budgeted for capital expenditure, the figure which represents 31% of the entire budget.

    Therefore, the claim that the 2016 or even 2018 capital expenditure is the highest is not only FALSE but also misleading. More so, although 30% was allocated, the government did not actually spend up to that amount on capital projects.

    CLAIM 3: THE ECONOMY GREW BY 1.95% IN 2018

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the economy grew by 1.95% in 1st quarter 2018, which is a good performance when viewed against -0.91 in 1st quarter 2017 and -0.67% in 1st quarter 2016 respectively.”

    FACTS!

    According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.95% (Year-on-Year) in real terms in the First Quarter of 2018. This shows a stronger growth when compared with the First Quarter of 2017 which recorded a growth of -0.91%, indicating an increase of 2.87% points. Compared to the preceding Quarter, there was a decline of -0.16% points from 2.11%.

    By the First Quarter of 2018, Aggregate GDP stood at N28,464,322.01 (28.4 million) in nominal terms. This performance is higher when compared to the First Quarter of 2017 which recorded a Nominal GDP Aggregate of N26,028,356.03 (26 million), thus, presenting a positive Year-on-Year nominal growth rate of 9.36%.

    As documented by the National Bureau of Statistics, the president’s claim that the economy grew by 1.95% in First Quarter 2018 is TRUE.

    CLAIM 4: THE SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND HAS INCREASED BY ADDITIONAL US$650 MILLION

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “The Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio has been expanded with an injection of US$650 million so as to strengthen its investment in local infrastructure, power, health, re-construction of Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, East-West Road (Section V) and the Mambilla Hydro-electric Power project as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.”

    FACTS!

    The Sovereign Wealth Fund, set up in 2012 to save and manage excess money made from the sale of crude oil, is managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority. The funds are separated into three namely: the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund which has 40%, Future Generations Fund, also 40% and the Stabilisation Fund which is 20%.

    Last week, the Managing Director/CEO of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr Uche Orji confirmed that the transfer of $650 million to the NSIA as seed funding for Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) had been approved.

    Therefore, the claim by president Buhari that the Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio has been expanded with an injection of US$650 million is TRUE. Nevertheless, we cannot confirm whether the money will be used for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge or other projects as disclosed by the President.

    CLAIM 5: FOREIGN RESERVE HAS SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED AS OF MAY 2018 AND INFLATIONARY RATE HAS DECLINED SINCE JANUARY 2017

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “Our foreign reserve has improved significantly to 47.5 billion USD as of May 2018 as against 29.6 billion USD in 2015. The inflationary rate has consistently declined every month since January 2017.”

    FACTS!

    According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s external reserves (which consists of official public sector foreign assets used for financing payment imbalances and exchange rate regulation) is steadily growing and currently amounts to US$47.5 billion.

    Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria also shows that the inflation rate in Q1 of 2017 was 18.72%, the highest in Buhari’s administration since May 2015 when the inflation rate was recorded at 9%. Prior to 2015, the inflation rate hovered around 7 to 8.6% for 4 Quarters. In February 2017, the rate fell to 17.78% and ever since the inflation rate has been decreasing and in Q1 2018, it dropped to 13.34%.

    Both claims are therefore TRUE!

    CLAIM 6: RICE IMPORTATION HAS BEEN REDUCED BY 90%

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “Under agriculture, Nigeria continues to pursue a strategic food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimization of import dependency. As a result, rice importation from other countries has been cut down by 90% which has a direct impact on foreign reserves.”

    FACTS!

    There is no documented evidence to back up the president’s claim that Nigeria’s rice import has reduced by 90%. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria consumes more rice than any African country and is one of the biggest producers and importers of the grain on the continent.

    In 2015, the Nigerian government through the Central Bank of Nigeria imposed import restrictions on rice and introduced a borrowing programme to stimulate local rice production while reducing the country’s food import bills, available data from Index Mundi and the United States Department of Agriculture states that rice imports increased from 2.1 million tonnes in 2015 to an estimated 2.5 million tonnes of rice in 2016, 2.6 million tonnes in 2017 and 3.0 million tonnes in 2018.

    Also, according to the International Grain Council, rice imports in 2016 was estimated to be 2.1 million tonnes and 2.7million tonnes in 2017. It is estimated that Nigeria’s rice import will be 2.8 million tonnes in 2018.

    Therefore, the president’s claim that Nigeria’s rice import has reduced by 90% remains UNPROVEN.

    CLAIM 7: THE SOCIAL INVESTMENT PROGRAMMES (SIP) HAS RECORDED WINS

    BUHARI’S WORDS:

    “The Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has been created as a means to graduating our citizens from poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support…The SIP programmes and projects include: Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 Catering Staff engaged under the programme, the Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states… N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths…”

    FACTS!

    Due to the unavailability of information, DUBAWA has sent a letter to the presidency to request for details of the implementation of the Social Investment Programme. This report will be updated once we obtain sufficient details. However, we have verified the claim that the government is engaging 200,000 youths under its NPOWER programme. Information available on the website of the scheme states that only 200,000 Nigerians have been enrolled so far in the scheme.

    So while other claims are unproven, the president’s claim on NPower engaging 200,000 youths is TRUE.

    (This report will be updated as new information arises)

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