Coronavirus: FG disowns November resumption for schools

Coronavirus: FG disowns November resumption for schools

As the Nigerian government battles coronavirus, it has also been faced with another task of combatting the deluge of fake news arising from the pandemic.

Weeks ago, the federal and state governments shut down tertiary, secondary and primary schools in a bid to contain the COVID-19 spread.

President Muhammadu Buhari also recently said the lockdown and other restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic will be reviewed in line with recommendations by health experts.

However, a viral social media post claims that the federal government has announced through a press release that primary and secondary schools nationwide would be resuming by November 2020 as a result of the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

FACT CHECK: Did FG order closure of schools till November?
Fake press release claiming FG has announced schools will reopen in November. Source: Tolu Ogunlesi
Source: UGC

The social media post claims a press release purportedly signed by "Adamu Mallam" on behalf of the Ministry of Education and dated Tuesday, April 21, indicates that the schools will be resuming by November.

Federal Government reacts

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The federal government has disowned the viral social media post.

A statement by the director of press, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, urged Nigerians to disregard the fake notice, saying that the author was believed to be mentally unstable.

Goong further explained that the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, could not have signed a press release where the permanent secretary of the ministry, Sonny Echono, granted an interview to a reporter from an online medium, as stated in the fake release.

The ministry’s spokesman reiterated the release calling for schools to resume by November 2020 as a result of the pandemic spread was fake and should be disregarded, a report by The Nation states.

He added that a manhunt had been declared for the author of the fake press release.

“The ministry is asking parents, students and the general public to disregard the release in its entirety, adding that there is no iota of truth about the release. Efforts are on to track the author, and he or she will be prosecuted.

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“We could have ignored the release but for the massive calls from our education correspondents, parents and other stakeholders expressing concerns," the statement reads.

How the fake news was concocted - Presidential aide

Tolu Ogunlesi, President Buhari's aide on digital and new media finds out that the fake press release was taken from a story by Premium Times in March while some fabrications (“November 2020” etc) were added to distort the original story.

"These guys took a Premium Times story from March 2020, added some fabrications (“November 2020” etc), and turned it into a fake press statement," Ogunlesi tweeted, adding screenshot from the original story by Premium Times.

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In another related report, the presidential task force on COVID-19 has debunked the reports claiming that one of the Chinese doctors recently brought into Nigeria had tested positive for the virus.

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The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is also a member of the task force, debunked the claim on Wednesday, April 15, during the daily media briefing in Abuja.

The minister said the task force had been having to devote as much energy devoted to the fight against COVID-19 to debunking fake news being regularly spun against the efforts of government in fighting the pandemic. ( -> We have upgraded to serve you better

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