The Federal Government has described as fake, the news alert on the audio recording being circulated on social media, that Nigeria was seeking to buy used protective gear from China. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this at a news conference in Abuja, also refuted the claim on the same platform that Nigeria was waiting for money from the World Health Organisation (WHO), before taking drastic measures.
Mohammed said it was also incorrect, claims that the country had no funds to tackle the disease because its foreign reserves had been exhausted, funds had been stolen, and that the figure of those infected by Coronavirus was understated. “This is a most irresponsible, inaccurate and definitely orchestrated job by a charlatan and should be disregarded by all Nigerians. “It is obvious that this hatchet job is aimed at distracting the hard-working health officials and misinforming Nigerians in order to create panic. The Federal Government will not be distracted in its efforts to fight this disease and keep Nigerians safe. “Therefore, we urge all Nigerians to disregard the senseless audio,” he said. Mohammed said that it was also fake and handiwork of scammers, the news being circulated on social media that government planned to pay N8,500 to each citizen to stay at home for one month starting from March 30. He urged those seeking genuine and up-to-date information on Coronavirus to log on to the website of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The minister also debunked the myth by COVID-19 pundits prescribing Chloroquine (which has not been approved for treating Coronavirus), garlic, onion, hot bath, etc, all as a cure for the disease. He also described as a farce, the claim that the disease could not affect Africans for one reason or another, or that the young were immune to it. He said from what was known so far, no one was immune to the disease, and that the WHO had warned that not even young people were safe from infection by the virus. “Perhaps one thing that is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than the virus, is fake news/disinformation. “Our efforts to tackle Coronavirus are not being helped by the spread of fake news. “We implore Nigerians to shun these charlatans and follow directives from relevant authorities,” he said. Mohammed disclosed that Facebook was cooperating with the government and had asked Nigerians to report any false or misleading report on Facebook and Instagram pages, so they could immediately bring them down. “I can report that Facebook has been bringing down flagged posts in this regard. “Facebook is also taking preemptive action to remove any false or harmful messages about this pandemic and public health in Nigeria 24/7. “Similarly, WhatsApp is working with the NCDC to strengthen capacity, and keep the public informed on Coronavirus,” the minister said.