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Sahara Reporters, an online news agency based in the New York City, has reported fake news about two prominent Nigerian personalities, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
On Friday July 4, 2020, Sahara Reporters, a news agency notable for publications of fake news, especially about Nigerian leaders, reported that the Honorable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, built three houses for his wives in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
The news reports with the caption, “Photo News: Buhari’s Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami Living Large IN Abuja, Purchases Three Houses in Wuse for His Three Wives”, drew the ire of concerned Nigerians who condemned the news agency for the fake news.
The slanderous report stated that the minister purchased three houses in Wuse for his three wives.
In a quick reaction to the campaign of calumny, the spokesperson to the minister, Mrs Nwa Suleiman, issued a disclaimer to condemn the report.
According to Mrs Suleiman, Dr Pantami did not purchase a single house anywhere in the world since assumption of office.
“Our attention has been drawn to the grave falsehood published by controversial online media, Sahara Reporters, against the person of Honourable Minister, Dr Isa Ali Pantami.
“The online media, has falsely accused him of procuring three houses within the period of his assumption of office,” she said.
She further clarified that one of the apartments in the images published is one which the minister has occupied since January 2017, more than two years before becoming a minister, while the other one is a house he rented since 17th December 2019.
“It is worthy of note that as a serving minister, Dr Pantami’s salaries and allowances fall below his earnings as a Professor at the International University Madinah Saudi Arabia, where he still holds the record of being the first Nigerian to lecture at that level.
“He only returned to Nigeria out of the zeal to contribute his quota to national development,” she stated.
Dr Pantami is one of the few Nigerians who are driven by nothing, but an unequalled sense of patriotism and selfless service as demonstrated in his act of sacrifice, to answer the call to serve his country as a sign of his patriotism and selfless service.
As a successful businessman in his own right who has been comfortable in life, he has carved a niche for himself in his character, deep sense of responsibility and successful feats.
Pantami’s integrity and credibility precede him, and his fight against corruption in both official and personal capacities have become a reference point not only nationally, but globally.
Suleiman therefore urged the general public to ignore all attempts to slander the name and image of the minister.
She also pleaded with the Nigerian media to deploy “the strategies of investigative journalism and avoid false sensationalism in order to uphold the tenets of the noble pen profession.”
In another fake news report aimed at ruining the pristine personality of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, Sahara Reporters reported that Mr Magu was arrested and driven to Abuja by the Department of State Service.
On Monday July 6, 2020, the fake news agency published a defamatory fabrication under the headline, “BREAKING: DSS Arrests EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu”.
Sahara Reporters, however, did not succeed in its desperate attempt to tarnish the image of the EFCC boss.
According Dele Oyewale, the Head, Media & Publicity to the anti-corruption agency, Mr Magu was never arrested.
He stated that the EFCC’s boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation.
“A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel,” Oyewale said.