The House of Representatives has debunked reports that 50 of its members have tested positive for COVID-19.
The House spokesperson, Benjamin Okezie Kalu (APC, Abia), in a statement, said the report was baseless and unfounded.
The statement reads: “The attention of the House of Representatives has been drawn to a news publication by Sahara Reporters on July 7, 2020, sensationally titled ‘Panic at National Assembly As Over 50 Lawmakers Allegedly Test Positive For COVID-19’.
“The House of Representatives is, therefore, constrained to release this refutation of the gross misinformation,” he said.
He said the reaction became necessary to prevent undue panic in the society because of the publication, adding that there had not been any panic at the National Assembly as alleged in the publication.
Kalu said it was absolutely untrue that 50 lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19. “The House is certain that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) remain the most credible sources of data with regards to this pandemic and should be referred to for fact verification before misinforming the public,” he added.
Kalu stated that the House also recalled the previous publication of a video of parked vehicles falsely reported as belonging to the National Assembly.
“It is no longer news that of all arms of government, the National Assembly remains the favourite target of sensational journalism by media houses.
“However, there should be a limit to the spread of deceitful information aimed at aggravating the already existing tension around the pandemic.
“This is not fair to the public, as true journalism owes the debt of truth to the unassuming public,” Kalu said.
‘Disregard the report’ He enjoined the public to disregard the information stressing that the National Assembly has been at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic and that its members could fall prey to the infection just like other people.
“The public is hereby enjoined to disregard and consign to the trash bin, this misinformation.
“Sahara Reporters and other harbingers of fake news will do well to observe the ethics of professional journalism and investigate their news as the continued bias for sensational journalism only lends credence to the case for the regulation of social media.
“The National Assembly and our leadership have been at the fore of the battle to reduce the impact of this pandemic on the people of Nigeria.
“At the battlefront, occasional casualties are inevitable, especially when the warriors are not superhuman. “Members of the National Assembly could fall prey to COVID-19, just like any other person.
“It is also instructive to note that although the House of Representatives still works 5 days a week at the committee level, it has been sitting only once a week since the pandemic broke and today’s adjournment until next week, is consistent with its COVID-19 safety precaution.
“This pattern will continue until the commencement of our summer break on 23rd July,” he added.