By Jude MBAKU, AFF Cohort 9
News on the resignation of Cameroonian Soccer forward, Clinton Njie is Fake, unfounded and not traceable. The fake news went wild and viral after the squad lost its second group game at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nation 2023 in Cote D’Ivoire against current champion Senegal on Friday 19th January 2024.
The animosity by Cameroonians for losing this game continued with every disgruntled social media user tackling the team either for comic sake or to totally rubbish the team that has performed poorly. Some who have published this information across several social media apps and on Facebook are Linda Tayu (a User), the page called “Buea got Talent” with thousands of Followers and Ambazonian US based activist, Tapang Ivo Tanku. Our investigations shall explain why the activist played this role.
When this fake news first broke out, the first person we tried to contact was the footballer himself but to no avail. We then resulted in getting someone close, his Public Relations Officer who is Ace Sport Reporter for the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Rene Katche. He runs radio commentaries and special reports with the CRTV Team in Cote D’Ivoire. When we got to Katche on Sunday January 21st 2024 on his private WhatsApp number, he said it was all fake. “I’m with Clinton on a daily basis and we talked about it. He says it is fake. He trained last evening separately with the team’s physiotherapist just like the team captain, Abubakar Vincent who is also injured”
Earlier, the P.R.O, Rene Katche had posted this message on his Facebook wall:
“There is fake News making turns on the social media that the player has announced his retirement from the national team. This is fake News. Clinton says he will reply to his detractors on the pitch. Let him Breath”
Another angle of our finding was to verify the official Communication channels of the 30 year old Cameroonian born Sivasspor striker. We realized that, there is no document on any credible site even on BBC Sport where the Fake news is said to come from. We also realized that, Njie Clinton is not on Facebook. His only official outings are on Instagram and with the account “Njie Clinton14” having over 64 thousand followers.
At the time of this investigation, the last post made by Njie was at a training session, about a week earlier. Nothing about his resignation.
Moreover, when we checked the official site of Fecafoot (Fecafoot-officiel.com), no official documents had been released from the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT on any of such resignations. The communication unit of FECAFOOT would have done so given that they had a similar case with goalkeeper Andrew Onana when he left the camp in the Quarter 2021 World cup competition.
To further bring our investigation to an end, we linked up with the Reporter of Douala Based “My Media Prime TV” who is in Cote D’Ivoire covering the game. Derick Jato sent us a video taken on Tuesday 22nd January 2024 of Clinton Njie refuting the claims to the Press. When asked if the news of his resignation is true, he laughed and said “I don’t know where this News is coming from, but I’m still here. I’m still going to give my best in this team because I know I still have a lot to give. With time I will tell you guys more, but for the moment, I’m still here and will give my best”.
We also identified a possible source to this fake story.
In the cause of our investigation, we struggled to analyze the content to have a clue on the possible origin of this fake news. The write-up purporting Njie’s resignation cites issues far from sports. It picks on Governance issues. In the first paragraph, it says that he is leaving the national team due to CORRUPTION and FAVORITISM. The next paragraph raises the issue of him being an ANGLOPHONE, accounting for his seclusion from the pitch despite having been called to Cote D’Ivoire. The last paragraph says his talents are not recognized due to TRIBALISM. These are recurrent Words of Marginalization that the Ambazonian Activists have been advancing for their course of separation with the French part of Cameroon since 2016
From our findings, we also notice the time these posts were dropped online. Probably the earliest being that of a certain Facebook account belonging to Tapang Ivo. Tapang is a well known USA based activist for Ambazonia whose primary aim has been to destabilize the current government of Cameroon. He and his team have done several of such fake stories especially with faking of English Language Newspapers to suit their agenda. These separatists earlier had called out several English speaking musicians such as Magasco and Tzy Panchak to boycott any event in the French Speaking regions of Cameroon.
We therefore notice that it is the same way they are using Njie Clinton to cause more harm to the current unity of the country. We also discovered that there is a sentiment towards the neglect of footballers who are from the English part of the country given that, of the 27 of them called up, only Clinton Njie is from there. The separatists have used this as a strong point to wimp out sentiments from a larger gullible Anglophone community.
The indomitable Lions of Cameroon play their last group game on January 23rd 2024. Any anti fake news person will be observing the line-up of the coach to see if Clinton Njie has resigned or not. We therefore end up to say, the information announcing the Resignation of Njie Clinton from the National team at the AFCON 2023 in Cote D’Ivoire is either emotionally charged, for comic purposes or to spread the anti-Unity agenda of the Ambazonian movement in Cameroon. It is FAKE NEWS.