The ‘US Department of State Prosecutor’ did not ask Nigerians to report Human Rights’ Abuses
By Mohammed Dahiru Lawal
Verdict: There is no office of the ‘State Prosecutor’ in the U.S. Department of States. In fact, the given contact is not linked to any official website related to the US Government or any credible news release or press conference as a matter of fact. Additionally, the Office of Press Relations, US Department of State has denied any involvement or association to the message.
A viral social media message, shared widely on WhatsApp, has urged Nigerians to submit verifiable claims of human rights abuses committed by the Nigerian Government in the Southern part of the country.
Prominent Nigerians and WhatsApp platforms of notable organisations and even media practitioners shared the post which was attributed to the U.S. Department of State and reads:
“The U.S. Department of State prosecutor has requested that all verifiable human Rights abuses committed by the Nigerian Government in the Southern Nigeria should be reported immediately. Below is his WhatsApp number +1 (202) 975-9195. Kindly distribute,” it said.
The WhatsApp account associated with the number was found out to have been created on February 26, 2020, with a French bio which reads: “recompense pour la justice du gouvernment American” translated by Google to “American Government Justice Award,” along with a display picture bearing the logo of the U.S. Department of State.
However, A general keyword Google and other search engine check of the term “US Department of State Prosecutor,” did not turn up any related result, meaning that no such office or person exist, rather, the top result on Google search engine reveals the US Department of State official website https://www.state.gov
A surf through the website reveals that only the “Office of the Legal Adviser” under Bureaus and Offices, Secretary of State existed. Other Departments/Offices in the U.S. Department of State are include:
Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Office of Assistant Legal Adviser for Ethics and Financial Disclosure
Office of Assistant Legal Adviser for International Claims and Investment Disputes
Office of Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law
Office of Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence
Office of Treaty Affairs
Other Legal Adviser Offices
Furthermore, online search of the given contact (+1 (202) 975-9195) did not turn up any result on any website officially linked to the US Government or its allies except for results on Social Media sites like Twitter where the same message is being propagated.
Additional check by clicking on the “news” header of Google search engine window shows that the search did not match ‘any news result,’ which means there was no credibly linked press release or press conference that authenticates the message.
Similarly, clicking the ‘images’ header of Google search engine window any associated result in picture format as the same goes with videos.
Rather, checks have revealed that the same contact number has been linked to a previous claim in 2020 that the U.S. Department of Justice is offering N2.2bn Bounty for Information on Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shakau.
Also, a Facebook search of the contact or name revealed no profile or page linked to the contact but another post which claimed it was the International Criminal Court that was requesting for submission of human rights abuse as follows:
“The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has requested that all verifiable Human Rights abuses committed by the Nigerian Government in Southern Nigeria should be reported immediately.
Below is his WhatsApp number +1 (202) 975-9195.
Please kindly share.”
Similarly, a search of the contact on LinkedIn and Instagram showed no result of any account associated with it.
When contacted via the contact form of the U.S. Department of States, an email response urged this writer to contact the Office of Press Relations.
The Office of Press Relations, when contacted, denies that the U.S. Department of State either sanctioned or involved itself in the message in any way.
Based on findings through the U.S. Department of State did not call for reports on verifiable claims of human rights abuse by the Nigerian Government in the Southern part of the country. The message is therefore false and should be ignored.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with PRNigeria to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country