• Are Classrooms Filled With Cows in UNIJOS? #NO

    A not-so popular news media organisation, ScanNews, is on Facebook claiming that senior citizens (cows) have taken over the classrooms of the University of Jos.

    The post on ScanNews via Facebook reads: “This is University of Jos where senior citizens attend classes instead of students.” A picture showing a herd of cows inside a classroom accompany the post.
    However, the school management of UNIJOS have denied the allegation.


    Ordinarily, the term “senior citizens” refer to the aged, retirees or pensioners; people who have attained a certain age on earth. In Nigeria and with reference to the recent happenings, a particular family of animals are referred to as “senior citizens”. They are COWS!


    The attention of management of the University of Jos has been drawn to the post which shows cows in a classroom in the University of Jos. Abdullahi Abdullahi, Principal Assistant Registrar (Information and Publications) of the University of Jos who spoke on behalf of the school management said in a few words “the post is not true. It is just lies”.


    The incident which was posted on July 23 has been refuted by students of the University of Jos. Enoga Aje Oitu, a 400 level student of History and International Studies said “it is a lie please. I was in school that very day around 10am and I left by 1:30pm and I didn’t see cows in any classroom or heard about it”.

    Uche Francis Emmanuel, a 400 level student of Accounting said “I was in school from 7am to 11:30am. Though I saw some cows grazing in the school premises that very day, the issue of cows in the classroom is not true”.


    A genuine picture speaks a thousand words but a fake picture creates confusion and a frenzied atmosphere. Our research team, using Google Reverse Image Search, discovered that the picture was taken in 2017 and used to narrate an incident that occurred in Edo state.

    The story behind the photo, which was reported by various news agencies, alleges that cows invaded Ohovbe Primary school in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo state. The cows disrupted classes and generally sacked pupils and teachers. It was gathered then that the herdsmen have turned the school to a grazing ground and the cows hide inside the classrooms whenever it rains.


    The post is FALSE both in words and in picture! The classrooms at the University of Jos have not been overturned by cows. Although cows were in classrooms in Edo in 2017, cows have not been sighted in the classrooms of the University of Jos as the post alleges.

  • The pendulum between fact-checkers and the rest of us

    Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has flagged off a nationwide campaign against fake news ahead of the 2019 polls. Launched in Abuja on Wednesday, the initiative is aimed at sensitizing Nigerians on how such news can threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria. Earlier this year, fact-checking site Dubawa was also launched in the FCT as a repository for verified information sourced from the social media and other platforms. Several existing advocacy groups are aligned with this effort, contributing their two cents’ worth to fact-checking the news we consume on a daily basis.

    These efforts are laudable. In fact, they are best practice in much of the developed world, where fact-checking has become the norm. In the United States, for instance, Politifact, FactCheck.org and Snopes have evolved to become reference websites for fact-checking. But truth is, there is only so much that such programmes can achieve without our individual and collective support. Statista projects that by 2019, the number of internet users in Nigeria will hit 93 million. This forecast demands a high level of responsibility on our part because it can potentially cause a spike in the proliferation of fake news.

    At times like this, the social media becomes a veritable tool for crowd-sourcing and propaganda. Examples are not far-fetched. Earlier this week, Premium Times broke a news story alleging that Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun did not participate in the mandatory NYSC scheme, but forged her exemption certificate to avoid the national service. Before long, a photo-shopped image of the Minister dressed as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member went viral on the web. The photo was accompanied by a rebuttal which read: “@Wailers! Will you keep quiet! I did my NYSC.”

    A reverse Google image search traced the original share to a Twitter user @iSlimfit and hinnews.com, an unverified news site with no physical contact address. Its publisher Matthew Uzokwe did not respond to repeated phone calls for verification. Long story short? This effort was geared towards misinforming the public on a matter of such national importance. It was an attempt to gain cheap website and Twitter traffic at the expense of millions of Nigerians who could not distinguish between genuine and photo-shopped images. Some talking heads even lost no time defending Mrs Adeosun’s integrity with the photo-shopped image. They failed to realize she could not have been exempt from and completed the NYSC programme at the same time. Alternatively, they did not confirm the veracity of the alleged refutation from Premium Times which still awaits the Minister’s response as we speak.

    Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige was next in the pipeline this week. His goof at Monday’s APC mega rally in Ekiti presented another viable outlet for the spread of fake news. We woke up to screaming headlines such as ‘Chris Ngige urges Ekiti residents to vote massively for Fayose’ which fed off his substitution of the name ‘Fayemi’ for ‘Fayose’ in the heat of his clarion call to the crowds during the rally.

    Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose latched on to this. On Twitter, he profusely thanked Dr Ngige for campaigning on his behalf during the rally. He said: “I thank my good friend, Dr Chris Ngige for campaigning for me at the APC rally in Ado Ekiti yesterday. Dr Ngige is a man who is not always afraid to say the truth and that’s what he demonstrated yesterday even in the presence of the President and other APC leaders.”

    Meantime, most bloggers only referenced a short Channels TV clip which showed Dr Ngige’s blunder for their reportage. They did not take the time to search for a much longer footage of the Minister apologizing, with the emphasis that he meant to say “Fayemi, JKF” and not Fayose.

    In the final analysis, we are all fact-checkers in our own right who can help curb the spread of misinformation. The choice is ours to be part of the fake news problem or solution in the run-up to 2019 and after.

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