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Viral Claim on President Bio’s Arrival Package False!

HomeNewsBreaking NewsViral Claim on President Bio’s Arrival Package False!

Viral Claim on President Bio’s Arrival Package False!

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By Antonia Howard

President Bio departs London for Turkey

Credit: State House Media & Communications Unit

Claim: A viral message on WhatsApp purporting to be from the Sierra Leone People’s Party’s (SLPP) spokesperson claims Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio will arrive backin the country from his London trip with a ship carrying tons of rice branded in his politicalparty symbol among other things.

Verdict: False! Both the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the Sierra Leone People’sParty (SLPP), Rtd. Lt. LahaiLeema, and Adviser to the President and Head of StrategicCommunications at Office of the President, Dr Patrick Muana, have debunked a messagewhich has gone viral on WhatsApp claiming a list of things President Julius Maada hasnegotiated on his travels.

Full Text

President Bio departed Sierra Leone on 25th July 2020 for London, United Kingdom, to

attend the Global Education Summit, Financing GPE 2021-2025, which was scheduled for28th – 29th July. The summit is said to be the world’s biggest education conference and thistime it was co-hosted by both Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and HisExcellency Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.

After the summit, President Bio extended his stay in London till 9 August and departed onTuesday 10 August for a private visit to the Republic of Turkey.

Prior to his return to Sierra Leone on Sunday 22nd August 2021, a message went viral onWhatsApp claiming President Bio will arrive with a special package and a number of thingsare to take effect upon his arrival including the lifting of a toll gate fee and the reduction ofprice of rice, fuel, fish, electricity bills, and all imported commodities.

Verification

The Sierra Leone People’s Party’s (SLPP) mouthpiece, Rtd. Lt. Leema, says he is not theauthor of the viral message nor does he have any knowledge about the contents even thoughthe message is purported to be written by the “SLPP Spokesman.”

Commenting on the issue, the Communications Head at State House, DrMuana, said theOffice of the President does not release such information via WhatsApp. He clarified that allcorrespondences from State House will be passed through a formal press release with theofficial letterhead and/or announced by the President himself or a government ministryassigned to do so.

“Most of the timelines may be speculative but His Excellency has worked on most of the

stated initiatives. He has worked on making the investment environment more friendly andengaged investors at every opportunity,” DrMuana said, commenting on some of the specificissues raised in the viral text.

Conclusion

President Bio returned to Sierra Leone with First Lady Fatima Bio on 22nd August 2021. TheState House Communications lead confirmed that the President did not arrive with any seavessel nor did he bring tons of rice carrying the Sierra Leone People’s Party symbol as theviral message claims. Dr. Muana concludes that any details of the President’s trip which aremeant to be public will be disclosed in due time and through the normal official means.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership withAfrica Young Voices Media Empire to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism andenhance media literacy in the country.

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