Nigeria imposed a curfew to slow the spread of COVID-19 and has not yet set up 5G networks

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A post shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims that the Nigerian presidency imposed a curfew to allow Chinese companies to build 5G masts. This is false; the curfew is aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Authorities say 5G licences have not been issued to any firms in Nigeria -- Chinese or otherwise. 

The post, shared hundreds of times and archived here, claims “Nigeria presidency impose curfew to allow China mount their 5G athena (sic)”, asking readers to “share widely”.

A screenshot taken on May 20, 2020, showing the false post

Picture shows 5G mast in UK

AFP Fact Check ran multiple reverse image searches to find the original picture of a 5G mast seen in the post. We traced the image to the archives of Getty Images, which state that the picture was taken in Cardiff, UK by photographer Matthew Horwood. s

“A 5G mobile phone mast on April 04, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. There have been isolated cases of 5G phone masts being vandalised following claims online that the masts are responsible for coronavirus,” the caption reads.

Online conspiracy theories blaming 5G networks for the pandemic fuelled attacks on 5G towers last month in some European countries, including Britain and Cyprus. Experts sharply rejected the theory, as AFP Fact Check reported.

A screenshot taken on May 20, 2020, showing the source of the picture

Nigeria has not approved the use of 5G

Following the spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and 5G, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) explained that 5G licences have not been issued to any telecommunication network in the country. 

“There is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment,” the NCC said on its website in April. “The NCC back in November 2019 approved trial test for 5G for a period of three (3) months, and the trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned”.

As AFP reported, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a lockdown of two states -- Lagos, Ogun -- and the Federal Capital Territory at the end of March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The president eased the lockdown on May 4 but imposed a night-time curfew. The move fuelled new rounds of misinformation like this misleading post about 5G installation.

NCC spokesman Henry Nkemadu released another statement on May 10 reiterating that there was currently no 5G rollout in the country.

The NCC “has unequivocally stated that there is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment”, he said, adding that claims suggesting the opposite "cannot be further from the truth". 

AFP journalists in Lagos also confirm that there have been no signs of 5G mast installations in the state.