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COVID-19: Tackling Misinformation, Conspiracy Theories And Occult Imputations In Nigeria By Leo Igwe

April 3, 2020

Nigerians should be critical of alternative medical propositions especially the claim that sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and other herbs/local concoctions can be used to treat the coronavirus.


The Advocacy for Alleged Witches(AFAW) commends all health workers in Nigeria for the great work that they have been doing following the outbreak of the pandemic. The Nigerian public owes health workers a huge debt of gratitude for the selfless service and sacrifice. AFAW appreciates the risks and dangers that health workers are facing daily especially at a time that the country is grappling with a deadly virus.

Meanwhile, AFAW wishes to draw the attention of health authorities and the Nigerian public to the spread of misinformation about the cause, spread, and treatment of the coronavirus. The outbreak of COVID-19 has spurned so much false and misleading information. Misinformation is capable of endangering lives and undermining efforts to combat the pandemic. AFAW urges all Nigerians to be cautious and critical of whatever they read or are told, and only defer to the facts and to what is based on evidence in making sense of the pandemic.

Nigerians should be wary of the propaganda that certain sections of the world invented the coronavirus to kill and decimate persons of a particular religion, region or race. This claim has been used to instill hatred in the minds of people. It has been weaponized to get members of the public to disregard the ban on religious gatherings and not observe social distancing and other WHO guidelines for the management of the pandemic. 

Nigerians should be critical of alternative medical propositions especially the claim that sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and other herbs/local concoctions can be used to treat the coronavirus. The WHO has warned against using this piece of misinformation and disinformation in managing the pandemic

In addition, AFAW is asking Nigerians not to be swayed by the pervasive apocalyptic impression of the pandemic. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, some self-styled spiritualists have designated COVID-19 as a sign of the end times or some evil and divine punishment for human beings. Those who market this falsehood have, contrary to the directives from the WHO, urged Nigerians to fast and pray against the pandemic. Incidentally, there is no evidence that fasting and praying are effective in the treatment of COVID-19. So Nigerians should disregard such directives and rather focus on measures that have proven to be effective such as social distancing, washing of hands and wearing face masks in managing the pandemic.

At a time of so much fear, uncertainty and anxiety, many people are desperate, vulnerable and gullible. Many persons are easily deceived, exploited and manipulated by charlatans and peddlers of bogus cures and remedies. This pandemic is likely to get many Nigerians to consult prophets and diviners, mallams and marabouts, traditional, Christian and Islamic faith healers for spiritual assistance. Many Nigerians are likely to engage in witch/demon hunting rituals and processes. AFAW urges all Nigerians to desist from making witchcraft imputations or accusations of demonic possession. At a time like this, the corona virus pandemic provides a cover for persecution and scapegoating of women, children and elderly persons in the name of witchcraft. Based on the WHO guidelines, witch/demon hunting has no connection with the spread, containment, and treatment of the coronavirus. Instead Nigerians should consult relevant health authorities for reliable information on how to manage the pandemic.

AFAW enjoins all health agencies and other state authorities in Nigeria to use facts and evidence-based information, not fear and propaganda in guiding Nigerians during these difficult and perilous times.

AFAW works and campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa in 2030.