Claim: A viral WhatsApp message claims that the LASTMA has advised users of public transports to beware of drivers mentioning lace and ankara during a phone call.
Dubawa’s findings show that the message has been in circulation since 2019 and did not originate from LASTMA as confirmed by its Public Relations Officer.
Overtime, terms like ‘Incessant killings’, ‘kidnapping’, ‘Gunmen’, etc have become prominent in the Nigerian media space and this is owing to the increasing rate of Insecurity across the country. Accompanying these trends is the influx of false claims around the topics, many of which Dubawa has fact-checked. (See here.)
This became a trigger for verification when a recent WhatsApp message with the indication ‘Forwarded many times’ claims that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has warned the public to look out for suspicious phone calls by drivers when using the public transportation systems.
The viral message purports that kidnappers have adopted the words ‘Lace and Ankara’ and translated them to mean ‘male and female’ respectively, hence, when a driver mentions any of these words, passengers should ‘quietly alight immediately.’ How do you quietly alight from a moving vehicle?
The last few words from the message advise readers to share the information further and identify the announcer of the message to be the LASTMA protectorate unit. Is there such unit in the agency?
In the bid to check this claim, Dubawa’s first point of contact was the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) which allegedly initiated the Broadcast Message. In response to enquiry by DUBAWA, LASTMA’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Olumide FILADE, said the message did not originate from LASTMA, adding that there is no ‘protectorate unit’ in the agency.
Further, Dubawa performed a keyword search which led to other sources of this information. Results show that asides WhatsApp, this message has been shared several times on Facebook; the earliest result was from 2019. The post has garnered over 2000 interactions across the social media platform.
However, while the results provided by CrowdTangle show this message, none of them attributed it to the LASTMA.
While many may see this post as providing important security information, it proves baseless as there’s no sufficient evidence to back its claims. Besides this, the information is not new; it has been in circulation since 2019 and findings have shown that it has falsely attributed its claims to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority.