Vanguard

  • Sponsored “BBC News Nigeria’’ page asking people to invest for higher returns is fraudulent, fake

    Claim: A sponsored page on Facebook with the name “BBC News Nigeria” is seeking Nigerians’ audience and asking them to invest their money for a double return on their investment.

    The page is not owned by BBC or Vanguard as its owner wants the social media audience to believe. Besides, there is nothing like “BBC News Nigeria” whether as an existing entity or  as a media house in Nigeria. The “BBC New Nigeria” page is fake.

    Full story

    A fraudulent group which identified itself as “CROWD 1” has been calling on Nigerians to “register and invest” their money, promising higher Return on Investment (ROI).

    The group, which claimed it was created to provide support “both for the rich and poor” in order to help them “financially” is running its fraudulent activities with a sponsored Facebook page identified as “BBC News Nigeria.

    While assuring that investment is “100% money secured”, the page is directing interested users to join a Whatsapp group or call the admin of the “investment scheme.”

    “WELCOME TO CROWD 1. To Register And Invest Click The WHATSAPP BUTTON To message CROWD 1 OR Click on the link below to message them on WhatsApp👇👇 https://wa.me/2347069309314?text=Hello!%20Please%20how%20does%20this%20platform%20Works Call/WhatsApp The Admin (07069309314).

    “They are 100% money secured!!! It was created to support financially is both for the rich and poor,” the post of the group read accompanied with the video showing John Okafor, a Nigerian comic thespian, popularly known as Mr Ibu.


    Screenshot of the sponsored Facebook page: Credit: Facebook.

    Verification 

    Dubawa conducted an overall check on the page and discovered that contrary to its name “BBC News Nigeria”, it is not an original BBC News page or a media company.

    Besides, there is no single report except two videos — one of them showing a Nollywood actor, Kelvin Ikeduba, explaining why people should invest their money.

    Screenshot of the video section of the page page. Credit: Facebook

    The actor, arguably, is serving as an ambassador of the ponze group identified as “Crowd 1 investment.”

    This is a known culture in Nigeria whereby celebrities and social media influencers are used to sell a product, promote brands or project or change people’s orientation towards an opinion, idea and ideology. 

    Using popular media’s name as clickbait

    When Dubawa checked the photo section of the page, three pictures bearing “Breaking News” were found. One of them has a striking resemblance to BBC News, a global digital news and broadcasting agency.

    While it is apparently clear that the page does not belong to the real BBC, its owner, Crowd 1, uses the media organisation’s image and logo brand to serve as a clickbait. This, it is assumed, will draw the attention of targeted social media audiences to the page.

    Similarly, the fraudulent attempt is to give the ponzi scheme’s page a credibility boost, make people believe that it is owned by BBC News and lure them to the videos which, perhaps, may convince them to join the investment group.

    Dubawa notes there is no media agency in Nigeria with the name “BBC News Nigeria.” There, however, is BBC Africa, a subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which has its tentacles in African continent.

    In Nigeria, four languages are available on the BBC platform, namely: BBC Pidgin, BBC Hausa, BBC Igbo and BBC Yoruba. There is nothing like “BBC News Nigeria.”

    This suggests that the page is bogus and a clickbait.

    The name and logo of the original BBC News. Credit: Wikipedia/Google search

    Further research unravels more!

    A further search by Dubawa showed that the Crowd 1 investment also runs another sponsored Facebook page to promote its activities, promising “double” profit of investment in two hours.

    Although it uses the name “Ibitomi, the page uses the logo/favicon of Vanguard newspaper, a Nigerian news publication, for the same clickbait reason.

       Screenshot showing the page using Vanguard logo. Credit: Facebook

    V letter with a deep colour-touch of red is the logo of Vanguard newspaper as shown below.

    Logo of Vanguard newspaper. Credit: Google play store.

    On the page is another video of actor, Kelvin Ikeduba, assuring prospective investors of high ROI after investment.

    Part of caption under the video reads: 

    “We are 100% money secure. It is an approved platform that gives you double of your investment within 2hours time. Invest now and thank me later.”

    Without any iota of doubt, this is a desperate ploy to lure people into the investment scheme using all possibly available baits.

    Conclusion

    Apart from promising higher ROI, Ponzi or investment schemes are deploying different methods to convince social media users to join them. In the case of the one discussed above, there is a desperate attempt to mislead the social media audience using the name, image and reputation of notable media organisations.

    The “BBC New Nigeria” page is fake.

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

  • Did Bill Gates offer a $10million bribe to the House of Representatives?

    The Coalition of Political Parties claimed that Bill Gates offered a bribe to the House of Representatives to hasten the passage of a pending bill on compulsory vaccination for everybody in Nigeria. 

    The claim remains unproven. Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the House of Representative have disclaimed the accusation but the committee investigating the claim in the House of Representative is still continuing its work. 

    Full Text

    The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) claimed in a Monday, May 4th statement published in the DailyPost and credited to CUPP’s spokesperson –  Barrister Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, of a purported transaction between American philanthropist, businessman and software developer, Bill Gates and the leadership of the Nigerian House of Representatives. 

    According to the statement published by DailyPost, Bill Gates had offered a 10 million dollars bribe to the House of Representatives to favour the acceleration of enactment of a compulsory vaccination bill, despite health authorities’ stand that there is no cure for COVID-19 yet. 

    “Opposition Coalition (CUPP) has intercepted very credible intelligence and hereby alerts Nigerians of plans by the leadership of the House of Representatives led by Femi Gbajabiamila to forcefully and without adherence to the rules of lawmaking to pass the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 otherwise known as the Compulsory Vaccination Bill which is proposing a compulsory vaccination of all Nigerians even when the vaccines have not been discovered”   

    This claim has also been published by other news sites: today.ng, Premium News24 and REXNEWS TV

    Infectious Diseases Bill

    Since the government introduced the Infectious Disease Bill to replace the Quarantine Act, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has enthusiastically supported the proposed Bill which has also become a subject of controversy. The bill seeks to strengthen the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and make it more proactive and “not just reactive and function when there is an outbreak.”

    It empowers the President, the Minister of Health as well as the Director-General of NCDC, and the institutions they head, to make regulations on quarantining, vaccination and prevention of infectious diseases in Nigeria. The bill also makes it mandatory for travellers to be vaccinated against any infectious disease before entering or leaving the country. 

    Nigerians have reacted to this new bill (also referred to as the NCDC Bill) and are against replacing it with the quarantine act. Some civil society groups see this law as a threat to human rights. Similarly, a handful of citizens were also concerned at the speedy passage the bill has received from the lower chamber. 

    However, Femi Gbajabiamila has defended the bill, stating that its content and timing were appropriate. He made it known that the legislation is in the best interest of Nigerians and that citizens would be allowed to contribute to the draft law during a public hearing.

    Again, the Nigeria Governors Forum has criticised the bill and asked for it to be stepped down, but the lower parliament remains adamant.

    Verification 

    The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, in response, refuted the claims, in this report which Dubawa found also mirrors the views of lawmakers to the CUPP’s allegation, including that of the speaker, Femi Gbajbiamila, who characterises the claims as ridiculous. 

    In the bid to set the record straight, the House of Representatives has set up an ad-hoc staff committee to investigate the allegations of the CUPP.  While the claim is still under investigation, the committee, as part of the proceeding, summoned the parties involved, including the media that published the information. 

    DailyPost which originated the publication has apologised for publishing the story. In the same vein, Vanguard Newspaper has taken it down from its online platforms and has also apologised.

    Further, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation denied the widely circulated statement during the hearing. PREMIUM TIMES quoted the representative of the foundation, Paulin Basinga as saying, 

    “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently been made aware of an allegation circulating in certain elements of the Nigerian media that the Foundation was involved in a payment purportedly made to the Nigeria House of Representatives. Any such allegations are entirely false and without merit”

    However, the CUPP spokesperson – Imo Ugochinyere – who made the allegation, was absent at the hearing. He sent a representative, Tochukwu Uhazurike (legal counsel to CUPP), who the committee told to produce his principal at the next sitting.

    Conclusion

    The claim remains unproven. Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the House of Representative have disclaimed the accusation but the committee investigating the claim in the House of Representative is still continuing its work. Importantly, the main accuser,  Mr Ugochinyere- author of the claim- has so far failed to provide proof in support of his claims, rendering them baseless. The fact-check will be updated as soon as new evidence is available.

  • Bloggers weave deft circles around news reports to spread Misinformation

    Several blogs are claiming that the United Nations doubts the presence of any active COVID-19 case in Nigeria. 

    The blogs promoting this claim, upon scrutiny, merely republished a twisted version of what was initially reported by Vanguard newspapers. Also, their headlines do not match the content of the reports.

    Full Text

    In early April, there were reports from some blogs suggesting that the United Nations through her Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Mr Edward Kallon, noted that she was unsure of the footprints of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Nigeria.

    These blogs further added that the UN Representative reportedly made the statement at the Covid-19 Basket Fund launch- a joint initiative of the UN and the Nigeria government held on April 6. Further, two different Facebook groups continue to amplify the report; namely, Friends of Punch Newspaper and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu Disciples that have shared the same post on their platform, drawing 6,300 and 402 shares respectively with the daily increase in comments on the platforms.

    Verification

    Consistent with fake news reports, the headlines do not match the contents of the stories. The caption illustrates this: “We are not even sure if there’s any case of COVID-19 in Nigeria – UN,” which in effect seeks to discredit the work of a major UN body, the WHO, that leads the global work in eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, using the authority of the UN itself.

    Closer scrutiny of the report shows that it is a mangled interpretation of the Vanguard Newspaper report on the launching of the Nigeria/UN Basket Fund. While many bloggers took only the last paragraph of the UN’s representative speech, the Vanguard newspaper did not fail to mention the other dignitaries who attended the event.

    Original Premise

    Whereas most of the quotes used by the blogs and by the Vanguard newspaper drew comments from the statement issued by UN Secretary-General António Guterres titled: “The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy”. 
    Here, for example, is how the Eagle Eye framed its report when compared to the original from the Vanguard version below it.


    From Vanguard

    The comment below, which is the original from the UN shows that the basis of the Secretary-General’s statement centred on the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 across the world; not peculiar to Nigeria.


    Original UN report

    The concerns expressed over the rising case count, the spread and the effect of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria bear no relationship to doubts about the existence of active cases of the pandemic in Nigeria; instead, the issues have mostly been on the numerical testing capacity, the communal spread of the virus, health facilities stress among others.

  • Was Buhari a Pepertrator of Hate Speech Prior to Presidency?

    Sahara Reporters claimed that some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments prior to presidency can be deemed as hate speech. 

    Consequent on the broad umbrella of the hate speech bill, we deem this claim as TRUE. Findings reveal inciting comments by the retired General Buhari mid-2012; and although the particular comment cited was metaphorical, it passes the criteria used in the bill- inciting and threatening

    Full Text

    A recent opinion feature by SaharaReporters gave its two cents on the Hate Crime Bill. The publication accompanied a supplementary tweet which has already amassed 1,281 retweets and 2,104 likes. 

    It has been a battle of words in the media space since the re-introduction of the hate speech bill by the National Assembly. Said bill apparently imposes the death penalty on hate speech offenders. This bill has elicited mixed reactions from several people. Among them, was Senator Sani who believes the bill promotes tyranny and is a threat to freedom of speech. Femi Falana SAN explained that the National Assembly has no power to make such law as Hate Speech is neither on the Exclusive Legislative List nor the Concurrent Legislative List. And well, Sahara reporters joined the conversation with their opinion piece.

    The premise

    The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill was sponsored by the deputy chief whip, Aliyu Abdullahi. The proposed commission is expected to enforce hate speech laws in the country and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

    A report by Premium Times gave an insight into what the bill is all about. The bill was premised on ethnic or racial prejudice and harassment; earning a punishment of not less than N10 million fine and/or five-year jail time. Direct “hate speech” was not the only medium of distribution; but also included other literary materials such as publications or plays.

    Verification: 

    Dubawa’s findings revealed that there were so many reports- at different times- about President Buhari’s “hate” speeches. These occurred during his failed attempts to become Nigeria’s president- as far back as 2012

    A Vanguard report quoted Buhari, the then Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) using a not so subtle metaphor- albeit in Hausa. This was after he had identified “three types of Boko Haram” in the country, with the Federal Government topping the list.

    “They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”

    General Muhammadu Buhari (retired)

    But was it “hate speech”?

    Excerpt from the Bill

    A succinct detail to note is the vagueness of the bill. It envelopes speech that stirs up ethnic hatred or is threatening, abusive or insulting. That is a whole lot of grey area, and several forms of media fall under it. Even propaganda- such as the likes of Buhari in 2012- can consequently be seen as hate speech; as it certainly was inciting and connoted violence. 

    While we usually do not fact-check opinions, the exception made was predicated on the nature and importance of the assertion.
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