Journalism in the service of society

UK agency fines Oyakhilome’s channel N65.6m over Covid-19 sermon

THE Office of Communications in the United Kingdom better known as Ofcom, has sanctioned religious channel, Loveworld, owned by Nigerian Pastor, Chris Oyakhilome.

Ofcom said in a statement that 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.”

Ofcom noted that Loveworld has been in the habit of dishing out claims that cannot stand scientific scrutiny about Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic.

It recalled that in December 1 2020, Loveworld aired a 29-hour programme called the Global Day of Prayer, during which wrong claims were made about the Covid-19.

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

The statement further read, “Ofcom stresses that legitimate debate about the  official  response t o 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. Ofcom 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.”

Oyakhilome, who heads Christ Embassy church headquartered in Lagos, has in the last one year encouraged his members to ignore Covid-19 protocols. He even asked his members not to take the vaccines.

Just two days ago, he berated his fellow pastors for turning themselves into ministers for Covid vaccine instead of being minister of the gospel.

He said the stance of most of his fellow pastors in Nigeria on Covid-19 vaccine administration smacks of faithlessness.

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