When News Media Houses have a direct quote for the story they are telling everyone believes such story to be the truth. But Vanguard, Punch and Daily Post sold the Nigerian public a story about the burial of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, included a quote from a government Minister, and it was still fake News.
On January 29th, Vanguard reported a story titled: “FG has spent 1 billion on Ekwueme’s burial – Ngige”, wherein the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, asserted that the Federal Government will be spending the sum of 1 billion on construction of internal roads in Oko and its environs. It quoted the Minister,
“So the insinuation in some quarters that government has not done much is not true. What Buhari has committed into the burial is nothing less than N1 Billion. The family can also not say that it is not carried along because they are represented in all the burial committees.”
It also added that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other Government officials would grace the occasion (as they did), as President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to give Ekwueme a befitting burial.
DailyPost did the story a day earlier titled: “Buhari has spent N1bn on Ekwueme – Ngige”, which also revealed the Minister saying 1 billion Naira was being expended on the burial.
“The cost of hiring an air ambulance is not a joke. So, Buhari has honoured this Igbo son in all ramifications.
“He has committed not less than a billion naira in this project because he is passionate about it”.
It added that rehabilitation works are on-going in Amawbia/Ekwulobia road, up to Uga and Akokwa, in Imo State and another road rehabilitation, on Oko/Umunze road up to Ibinta in Abia State which the Minister claimed would cost nothing less than N480m.
“The Federal Government is building the mausoleum, which will contain a modern library and other facilities and I also know the cost of that too.”
The twist to the story came when Vanguard again published another story on 30th January titled: “Ekwueme: Ngige Denies N1 billion Figure”, in which the Minister debunked the statement attributed to him as being false.
In a Statement released by his Media Aide, Nwachukwu Obidiwe, Ngige said he did not attach a figure when he was announcing what the Government had spent in giving Ekwueme a decent burial.
“For the avoidance of doubt, what he did as a member of the Burial Planning Committee was to give the details of the road rehabilitation projects from the Awka end of the State and from Abia and Imo State axis, all leading to Ekwueme’s home town of Oko, as well as the medical services, the Mausoleum and others. But at no time did the Minister attach a figure of One Billion Naira!”
He added that the Igbo hold sacred the burial rites and attendant expenses and disapprove display of expenditure figures.
Vanguard covered this rebuttal as a fresh news, got traffic and cash for it, yet never explained how it came about its own story and quote.
Though some other Media outlets reported the first story, only Vanguard, Punch and Dailypost infused the direct quote of the Minister, which he has now denied.
Many now wonder where Vanguard got the quote from, as the video of the interview is yet to be made available to the public.