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April 17, 2021

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UK agency fines Nigerian pastor’s channel for spreading misinformation

3 min read


Nigerian pastor, Chris Oyakhilome’s religious TV channel, Loveworld, has been sanctioned by The Office of Communications in the United Kingdom (Ofcom) for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19.

Ofcom, is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom.

Ofcom, in a statement on its official Twitter page, said the station was fined £125,000 (N65.6m) for breaching the country’s broadcasting code by disseminating misinformation on COVID-19.

The statement read in part, “Today we have fined Loveworld £125,000 for this breach of the broadcasting code. This was the second time in a year that the broadcaster breached our rules on accuracy in news and harm in its coverage of the coronavirus.”

On December 1 2020, Loveworld aired a 29-hour programme called the Global Day of Prayer, during which claims were made about the COVID-19, which has so far killed thousands across the globe.

According to the agency, “these claims included the notion that the outbreak was ‘planned’, that the ‘sinister’ vaccine can be used to implant ‘nanochips’ that can control and cause harm to members of the public and the debunked theory that the virus was somehow caused by 5G”.

The agency said it was unfortunate that the station could continue to spread such information despite previous warnings.

Mr Oyakhilome, who heads Christ Embassy church headquartered in Lagos, has in the last one year encouraged his members to ignore COVID-19 protocols.

The statement further read, “Ofcom stresses that legitimate debate about the official response to the coronavirus pandemic is fundamental to holding public authorities to account during a global health crisis - particularly when public freedoms are curtailed and complex policy decisions are being taken.

“However, the inaccurate and potentially harmful claims made during this programme were unsupported by any factual evidence and went entirely without challenge.”

Controversies

The agency added that it was particularly concerned that this breach followed previous, similar breaches in 2020 during the investigation of which, Loveworld Limited, gave Ofcom a number of assurances as to how it would improve its compliance procedures.

A year ago, the controversial preacher shot a viral video wherein he established a link between the “5G network, Coronavirus, and anti-Christ”.

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In the video, Mr Oyakhilome also stated that the lockdown was to enable the Federal Government to install 5G in Abuja and Lagos.

He told his members in a sermon that “5G was part of the new world order where some figures of authority in the world were trying to build a religion, economy, and government for the entire universe.”

But three clerics, Poju Oyemade, Sam Adeyemi and Matthew Ashimolowo, would later debunk Oyakhilome’s claims at separate fora.

He recently asked his members not to take COVID-19 vaccines and berated Nigerian pastors who complied with the government’s ban on large gatherings because of coronavirus.

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