Katsina Students: BMC, media outlets circulate fake news claiming EU commended Buhari
The European Union’s purported felicitation of the Buhari administration’s heroics in ensuring the swift release of 344 pupils seized by bandits in Katsina, has been found to be a sham.
A letter of commendation from the ‘European Union Human Rights Forum (EUHRF)’ — claimed to have been authored by ‘Joseph Cullen, Special Rapporteur, Lake Chad, West Africa’ — gained massive traction amongst Nigerian media outlets on Sunday, two days after officials announced the release of the pupils.
The spoof group also purportedly excoriated former President Goodluck Jonathan for his poor handling of the abducted Chibok girls in 2014.
Checks by Peoples Gazette, however, showed that both the purported EUHRF and Mr. Cullen’s designation do not exist and definitely have no affiliation to the European Union.
An excerpt from the falsified congratulatory message, which appeared to have triggered its circulation was first tweeted by Babangida Buharist (@jarmari01) — a handle linked to President Buhari’s support group BMC, before it was reposted the same day by presidential aide Bashir Ahmad.
The deliberate falsehood perpetuated by the Buhari administration has been severely censured by a cross-section of Nigerians, who cringe at how low the government could stoop in adulating itself with propaganda.
Information minister Lai Mohammed had strongly denounced claims that the abduction was choreographed in a bid to score political points over the preceding administration.
Mr. Mohammed argued that the president, whom he said suffered “many sleepless nights” until the kids were freed, could not have staged their kidnap to deepen the military’s woes.
But the circulation of fake news, which Mr. Mohammed has spent the last few years railing against, has become prevalent amongst members of the administration.
Last week alone, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu was forced to apologise for distributing fake news claiming only 10 schoolboys were abducted in Katsina, apparently in a bid to control information and downplay the crisis to make his principal look good.
A few days later, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a top official at foreign affairs also distributed fake news about the boys’ release. She failed to apologise, claiming a breach of her Twitter account. The boys were later released by their abductors, but it was after Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa’s false announcement.
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