NIGERIAN televangelist Pastor Chris Oyakhilome has been sanctioned by British media regulator Ofcom after his TV channel Loveworld News broadcast a programme in which he linked the 5G telecommunications technology with the coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent broadcast, Pastor Oyakhilome, the founder of Christ Embassy Church, called coronavirus a ruse, saying it was all created by the 5G technology. He failed to provide any evidence to back up his claim, so Ofcom has ordered Loveworld News to air findings from its investigation given the channel’s serious failings to protect its viewers from misinformation during the programme.
Pastor Oyakhilome had questioned the need for the lockdown, in effect saying there was no such thing as coronavirus. Ofcom has subsequently castigated the church, saying while it does not oppose broadcasts airing controversial views or those challenging health authorities, the claims in a sermon aired by Loveworld News calling the pandemic a global cover-up, posed serious health consequences to viewers.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “Loveworld News featured potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and adequate protection was not provided to viewers. Additionally, statements were not presented with due accuracy.”
Ofcom said Loveworld, which is broadcast on satellite in the UK, would be required to show a statement of the watchdog’s findings, and that it was considering imposing further sanctions. Loveworld News also touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19, without making clear the malaria drug’s efficacy regarding coronavirus is unproven.
In a news show filmed in South Africa and broadcast in Britain on April 7, Ofcom said Loveworld aired the 5G conspiracy and claimed there was a global cover-up of the issue. In a later programme the same day, Pastor Oyakhilome touted a bizarre conspiracy theory linking coronavirus to a Satanic plot to create a new breed of cyborgs.
Nigeria’s information agency also debunked the popular pastor’s claim that the government imposed movement restrictions to allow for the installation of the new generation wireless technology. Pastor Oyakhilome presides over one of the largest Christian congregations in Africa and the church boasts of having branches in countries and university campuses across five continents.