The Presidency has debunked reports alleging that President Buhari is planning to visit Washington, DC, United States on Monday, September 4, 2017.
Sahara Reporters had claimed that sources within the Presidency revealed the trip was at the invitation of the US President Donald Trump who reportedly extended the invitation in February, shortly after his inauguration.
The online news medium had reported that President Buhari will leave his hometown, Daura, at 9:15 AM by helicopter to the Katsina Airport, where he will take the presidential jet to Washington, DC.
According to the report, a source within the Presidency claimed Buhari had planned to combine his trip to the US with his participation at the UN General Assembly in New York from September 21 to 25, 2017, but ultimately decided against it.
But the Presidency has promptly reacted to the report describing it as false. In a post on Twitter, Lauretta Onochie, President Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Social Media wrote:
“It’s not true that
@NGRPresident @MBuhari is Set For a USA Trip tomorrow, Monday 4/9/2017. Pres Buhari always informs Nigerians of his trips.”
Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on Nigerians to disregard the “fake news”. In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday, September 3, the Minister alleged that the news is being circulated via a parody Twitter account and an old NTA news video.
According to the Minister, one of the numerous parody Twitter accounts in his name, @MohammedLai, was used to disseminate the fake and ludicrous news that claims that President Buhari is due to leave Nigeria for the USA on Monday ”to condole with President Trump over the floods in Houston”.
Lai Mohammed also said, an old NTA News video being circulated on the Social Media claims that President Buhari has already left for the UN General Assembly in New York.
”This is a 2015 NTA News video that was repackaged to look current, and to give the impression that the President left Daura, where he is celebrating Eid-el-Kabir, directly for New York,” Lai Mohammed said.
He urged Nigerians to disregard any news credited to any account in his name, either on Twitter or Facebook, saying:
”Numerous parody accounts have been opened in my name on the two platforms, when indeed I have no Twitter or Facebook accounts.”
The Minister recalled how the same parody Twitter account used to disseminate the fake news about the President’s purported trip was employed to circulate a fake report that he sharply criticized Senator Dino Melaye for attending the Notting Hill Carnival in the UK.
He said these two instances highlight the dangers posed to the polity by the purveyors of fake news and disinformation, and vowed that the Federal Government would soon fish out those behind the shenanigans.
”Fake news, disinformation and hate speech are the antics of the naysayers, those who are pathologically opposed to this Administration. That is why we are urging Nigerians to be more discerning and to double check any information emanating from the Social Media,” Lai Mohammed said.