ON October 21, 2020, at about 8:26 pm an online publication, Eastern Telegraph shared a controversial quote attributed to the Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The claim says it costs the Federal Government so much to bring the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu to court for prosecution.
An extension of the claim was the Department of State Services (DSS) demanded over N500 million for each court session.
“The FG might need to still borrow a little more from China to prosecute this case to a logical conclusion,” the claim stressed further.
The assertion ended with the hashtag CashOutScheme, with the minister’s photograph.
That Lai Mohammed said the Federal Government might borrow from China to prosecute IPOB leader.
The FactCheckHub found the claim is False.
No less than 279 people have reacted to the claim with 265 comments and 391 shares.
“This is the comedy of the century. N500 million naira to bring Nnamdi Kanu to the court for a single court sitting! So, the Fulani government of the north (FGN) will have to borrow to prosecute him! But they can’t borrow to fix our roads, power, refineries, hospitals, schools, etc.
“Too bad for Nigeria,” Boluwaji Tosin-Chris Adegasoye commented.
Maxwell Ndabo, another social media user wondered why the FG was still holding the secessionist leader if he was costing them that much. He said “If holding his is costing you that much, why not cut the cost by setting him free then? This government is trying, by all means, to cover their traces of corruption by making us believe that everything with them has a monetary value attached to it.
These and many more comments showed that a part of the public the quotation attributed to the minister.
Nnami Kanu is the IPOB leader, and supporter of the popular demand for secession of the southeast people. He has been on the government watch list following his agitations and was eventually arrested in 2021.
But a careful look at the claim shows, the quote was an extraction from what appeared to be a speech. Nevertheless, the public event or source from which the quote was extracted was not included in the post.
The DSS is an agency of the state, annually funded through the national budget. As such, that the DSS was demanding money from the federal government to prosecute an accused person is most unlikely.
Findings also show the platform has an agenda to either push for “Restructuring or Referendum.” This is contained in the ‘about’ section.
The FactCheckHub reached out on Thursday, October 28 to the publication – Eastern Telegraph through a direct channel on its Facebook page to verify the news. It was acknowledged but no feedback as of the time of this verification.
The same message was sent to the phone number found on the website but no feedback came. The phone number was later contacted and the publisher debunked it. He categorised the quote as fake and untrue.
Though, he identified himself as Emeka, TrueCaller recognises him as Chikezie Kizito. He said most of those who post on the platform were Biafrans and they are at liberty to post anything. “Anyone who reads it will know it does not make any sense. So, it is not true. In fact, I don’t manage the page.”
However, contrary to what he said, the post in question was made by the medium and not a commenter.
The FactCheckHub queried why he does not manage the page, yet his phone number was on the report. He said he had many of the platforms. Eventually, he told The FactCheckHub the post would be taken down.
Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media) in the Office of the Minister of Information and Culture also debunked the claim. He described it as false when the FactCheckHub reached out to him.
“This is fake news!”. Adeyemi responded.
Based on the findings, there is no evidence to support the claim that the federal government is seeking a Chinese loan to fund the prosecution of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Therefore the claim is FALSE.