FACT CHECK: Was Taliban Flag Hoisted In NEMA Office?

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THE Taliban, removed from power in Afghanistan by US-led forces in 2001, has been making major news headlines recently. The group has been on the offensive in the last few months and has now taken control of Afghan capital, Kabul.

President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as the Islamist militants entered the capital virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, while hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave flooded Kabul airport.

The Taliban militants, who have now taken over the government, on Monday, also declared the war over after seizing the capital, while Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens from an increasingly chaotic Kabul airport.

Following the recent trend, amid fears of a possible scenario in Nigeria following rising attacks in the country by bandits and Boko Haram terrorists, a picture surfaced online on Monday alleging that the Taliban’s flag was hoisted at the office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in solidarity with the Islamist group.

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But the agency has described the viral image as the handiwork of mischief makers with the intent of dragging the agency’s name in the mud.

According to NEMA’s spokesman, Manzo Ezekiel, “I don’t know what their flag looks like but whatever picture you’re talking about, I want to tell you that last week Friday, we had a meeting in our office, which was a bilateral engagement with representatives of the government of Saudi Arabia.

“In that programme, there was a flag of Saudia Arabia, which was placed behind the representative of the Saudi Arabian government in which they came to commission a grant facility that was given to NEMA for the upgrading of the emergency call centre, where Nigerians that are in distress could call and receive necessary referral or support.”

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He continued: “So whatever flag you’re talking about, if it is the flag of the government of Saudi Arabia, it is the flag of a country, not a flag of any religious organisation or sectionalists. In fact, the flag was used for only few minutes during the occasion and was removed immediately.

“It was just to show appreciation to the government of Saudi Arabia because of the high profile representation of the government, because the Deputy Ambassador of Saudi Arabia and a representative of King Salman of Saudi Arabia Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre came to officially hand over and witness the commissioning of the upgraded call centre.

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“So if that’s the picture you’re talking about, I think some people are just out for mischief,” the NEMA spokesman noted.

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