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No, Nigerian government is not giving out N5 billion cash payouts, as claimed on Facebook

IN SHORT: Some Facebook accounts are claiming that the federal government of Nigeria is sharing a N5 billion palliative with residents of Lagos and other states. While that is true, these scam posts are engagement bait and not the way to claim the grants.

A Facebook account claims that the federal government of Nigeria is sharing N5 billion “palliatives” with Nigerians and includes a link where users can apparently register to receive these funds.

The 21 August 2023 post reads, in part: “Check now if you are among the Lagosians to receive this Palliative from the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

We found similar posts here, here and here.

In August 2023, the federal government approved a N5 billion palliative fund for each of the 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. Money will be given to the state governments as grants and loans to help them distribute food to the poor. This is to help cushion the effect of the hike in fuel prices and rising inflation.

But do these posts on social media link to a website where Nigerians can register to receive these funds directly from the federal government? We investigated.

NigeriaGovPayout_Scam

Engagement bait red flags

When we clicked on the link in the post, we reached a private website featuring a “palliative form” and a photo of the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The form asks for personal information, such as your name, email address and local government area of residence.

We found that whatever information we filled in, we were congratulated for qualifying to receive the funds and asked to share the form with five groups or 15 friends on WhatsApp.

NigeriaInsert

We were then asked to pick our “method of receiving payment” and promised that we would receive email confirmation within 24 hours. It appeared that the form had been shared 29,000 times and commented on 37,000 times.

These were all signs that the posts were examples of engagement bait, or an attempt to drive traffic to the website and gather the personal information of users, possibly in order to scam them or commit identity fraud. The reach of the form increases as more people share it, on either Facebook or WhatsApp. 

But there is no such evidence that the federal government’s palliative funds are being paid out directly to anyone who registers on this site. This is misleading at best, harmful at worst. 

Palliative aid in the form of food, not cash

On 3 September, the Lagos state governor began to distribute various food items, expected to reach 500,000 vulnerable residents in Lagos.

The state distributed bulk items, including rice, garri and beans, to groups, and food boxes to vulnerable households. No cash payments were involved.

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