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Misleading Facebook posts falsely claim Nigeria’s Rivers state governor is wanted by financial crimes commission

IN SHORT: A message circulating on Facebook in May 2024 claims that Siminalayi Fubara is wanted by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency. This is misleading because the EFCC had a warrant out for Fubara in 2018 and 2022, but Fubara only became governor of Rivers state in 2024.

Several posts on Facebook claim that the governor of Nigeria’s River state Siminalayi Fubara is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for fraud.

One post, dated 14 May 2024, reads: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared the Rivers State Accountant-General, Fubara Siminayi, and 58 others wanted for N435 billion fraud. Wikes camp shared this last night after Sim announced officially that Wikes administration will be probed.”

The EFCC is responsible for investigating and prosecuting economic and financial crimes such as fraud, money laundering and corruption. 

Nyesom Wike is the minister of the federal capital territory, Abuja. He served as Rivers state governor from 2015 to 2023.

Wike and Fubara are embroiled in a rift that has been widely reported in the Nigerian media, with some suggesting it is over control of state affairs.

In May 2024, Wike said he had made a mistake by endorsing Fubara to succeed him as governor of Rivers. 

Fubara then announced that he would set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the management of the state's resources and affairs under past governors, including Wike.

The same claim can also be found here and here. (Note: See more instances of the claim at the end of the report.)

But is Fubara wanted by the EFCC in 2024, as the posts suggest? We checked.

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It’s old news

The posts refer to Fubara as “Rivers State Accountant-General”. He held the position under the Wike administration. Fubara was responsible for overseeing the financial operations and accounts of the state.

The graphic in the posts shows Fubara and three others. A reverse image search of the graphic revealed that it was published on the official Facebook page of the EFCC in 2018. The commission said they were wanted for misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N117 billion.

In 2022, the EFCC declared Fubara and 58 others wanted for N435 billion fraud. The news was reported by several media outlets in Nigeria.

Despite the EFCC announcements, the former accountant-general won the governorship primary elections in 2022 and eventually became the governor of the state in 2023.

Fubara reportedly escaped arrest by the EFCC in June 2022 with the help of some young people believed to be his supporters.

Fubara was not convicted of the charges against him. Under the Nigerian constitution, if he had been convicted of corruption, he would have been disqualified from running for governor.

We found no reports in any credible media outlet that Fubara was wanted as a sitting governor in 2024.

The false claim was also posted here, here, here and here.

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