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No evidence Obasanjo said there was no coronavirus in Nigeria

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo has said there are no cases of coronavirus in the country, claims an article shared on Facebook. A screenshot of the article has also been posted on WhatsApp. 

Its headline reads: “There is no coronavirus in Nigeria, The minister of health cooks the story to defraud the Government, I want to see the Italian man, I wan get the virus too - Obasanjo.” The article was published on the site 9JAVARIETY on 4 March 2020.

The coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. By 10 March 2020 there were at least 114,000 confirmed cases of the disease worldwide, with 4,000 deaths recorded. 

Nigeria recorded its first case of Covid-19 on 27 February 2020.

Obasanjo was president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. He is known to regularly air his views on current events and politics. His opinions are usually widely covered in the media. 

But did he say this about Covid-19?

Obasanjo’s birthday plans hit by coronavirus

The two-paragraph article, which includes a photo of Obasanjo, is badly written and full of grammatical errors – often a sign of misinformation. 

There have been no reports in the mainstream media of Obasanjo disputing Nigeria’s first case of coronavirus, or saying anything negative about the minister of health. Such a statement would have been reported by credible news organisations.

But there have been a number of news reports from 5 March that the former president had to change plans for his 83rd birthday celebrations because of the virus. According to one report, which included photos, all guests attending the event were screened for Covid-19 on entry. 

And the photo in the 9JAVARIETY article is not recent and does not show Obasanjo discussing Covid-19. It has been used in many news stories about him, from as early as February 2019. – Motunrayo Joel


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