FACT-CHECK: Picture Of Bedridden Ex-Footballer In Wheelchair, Not Peter Rufai

In Breaking News, Fact-Check, Reports, Sports

By Ogar Monday

Claim:  A Twitter user posted a tweet with a picture of a bedridden man in a wheelchair, claiming it is former Nigerian goalkeeper, Peter Rufai, and suggesting that he is now sick. 

Verdict: False. The tweet claiming that Peter Rufai is sick and bedridden is misleading. The image used in the narrative is of Peter Fregene, who has been in a wheelchair for a long time now.

The tweet with the initial claim

Full Text

On January 15, 2022, a Twitter user (@nasirdaniya) shared a collage of three pictures supposedly depicting a bedridden Peter Rufai, former super eagles goalkeeper in a wheelchair, languishing in sickness and poverty.

“This is disheartening! Imagine what the former @NGSuperEagles goalie Peter Rufai has been going through. The Hon Minister of @NigeriaFMYS @SundayDareSD and @thenff need to do something urgently!,” @Nasirdaniya tweeted alongside the images. 

As of the time this report was filed, the tweet already has 776 thousand views, 3,025  retweets and 5,694 likes. 

Responding to the tweet, Ibrahim Bamidel (@ibbdinnar98) wrote, “This is disheartening! Imagine what the former @NGSuperEagles goalie Peter Rufai has been going through. The Hon Minister of @NigeriaFMYS @SundayDareSD and @thenff needs to do something urgent!” 

Another Twitter user, Omono Okonkwo (@omonookonkwo), called out the tweet to be false. “This is not Peter Rufai, this is Peter Fregene, and he is 75 years old.”

The collage pictures used in the tweet are originally traced to a Facebook post by Abdulrazak Garba and have been shared here, here and even here with the same alleged narrative. 

Peter Rufai is a former Super Eagles goalkeeper. Nicknamed “Dodo Mayana.” Mr Rufai represented Nigeria at two FIFA World Cups and was part of the AFCON winning squad in Tunisia 94.  His popularity and immense contribution to Nigerian soccer don’t seem to match the current allegation, a more reason why the narrative is arousing so much attention.

Verification

CrossRiverWatch first separated images in the collage into independent copies, into “picture one”  and “picture two”. The man in a wheelchair and wearing green, and the first one with the goalkeeper wearing a yellow jersey. 

A collage of the picture; is separated for analysis.

A Google reverse image search of the image of the goalkeeper dressed in yellow (picture one) showed that he is actually Peter Rufai. Further search on the image leads to the website of Getty Images, an American stock supplier that commissions photographers to cover major sporting events.

Picture One: Peter Rufai

A search of the name Peter Rufai on Getty’s website brings up several images of the same player, in the same yellow long-sleeve, with two lines running by the side. The picture was taken during Nigeria’s opening match with Spain at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, hosted by France, where Peter Rufai featured prominently. 

Result of a reverse image search of picture 1

Picture Two: Peter Fregene

A reverse google search of the second image with the man in a wheelchair, wearing green, brings up the name Peter Fregene. 

Result of a reverse image search of picture 2

Peter Fregene is also a former Nigerian international goalkeeper who was part of the 1968  Olympic Team in Mexico. 

Nicknamed the “flying cat,” Mr. Fregene, 76, played for stationery Stores of Lagos, where he won the Nigerian FA Cup. He was the country’s first-choice goalkeeper from 1968 to 1971.

A further search of the name leads to an article written by Segun Odegbami in March 2019 and published by CompleteSports, where he revealed that Fregene has been bedridden for more than two decades. 

Another search on the name on Facebook brings back a video on Rero TV, of Pete Fregene and his wife pleading for financial assistance.

Is Peter Rufai Sick and Bedridden?

All efforts to contact Mr Rufai turned abortive; however, reports from credible sources highlight Mr. Rufai’s alleged situation. In fact, Mr Rufai was part of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign held in Kano on December 9th. A report by Punch Newspaper details Mr. Rufai’s involvement in the campaign alongside other prominent retired football players. 

A careful understudy of Mr. Rufai’s official Instagram handle shows the former footballer is active and has not posted or shared anything that portrays him ill. On New year (2023), the former short-stopper shared a picture of himself in a well and hearty condition.

Conclusion

The tweet claiming that Peter Rufai is sick and bedridden is misleading. The image used in the narrative is of Peter Fregene, who has been in a wheelchair for a long time now.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with CrossRiverWatch to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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