What really happened to Flutterwave #EndSARS Fund donation link?

The Flutterwave #EndSARS Fund donation link was deactivated on Tuesday, reportedly due to pressure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But Flutterwave says it was routine maintenance.

What really happened to Flutterwave #EndSARS Fund donation link?

The Flutterwave #EndSARS Fund donation link was deactivated on Tuesday afternoon, reportedly due to pressure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But Flutterwave says it was routine maintenance.

Flutterwave, one of the leading payment processing companies in Nigeria, had set up an #EndSARS Fund to support the nationwide protest against police brutality on October 9, 2020. Three days later, the donation link, which has been used to raise over ₦25 million at the time, was deactivated.

As the donation link became unavailable Tuesday afternoon, the ensuing report was that the "Federal Government has summoned Flutterwave through the CBN for handling money for these protests". This report further enraged Nigerian youths who had been protesting for six days. And #iStandWithFlutterwave began to trend on Twitter.

But it turned out not to be true.

Some hours later at 3:58 PM, Japheth Omojuwa revealed a contrary information. "I have now been informed that government isn’t shutting Flutterwave down", Omojuwa said. "So we are clear on that. No one is shutting Flutterwave down. They will reset the donation link and get things going again. We are good".

But the deed was done. The misinformation had spread like wildfire.

The People Gazette (PG), which first reported the broken donation link, used the headline: "Under CBN pressure, Flutterwave deactivates #EndSARS fund-raiser account". This is despite sources telling PG that Flutterwave had "issued a warning to the account administrators on Monday evening about an update that would be carried out on the platform".

Similarly, ThisDay published a report without byline on the broken donation link. The report claimed Tunde Lemo, Flutterwave's Board Chairman, ordered the deactivation of the #EndSARS Fund donation link. Lemo, being a former Deputy Governor of CBN - Operations Directorate, fit the CBN summoned Flutterwave misinformation.

"I was the one that instructed them to shut down their system yesterday when the bad guys were moving money through them", ThisDay claimed Lemo said.

But in a statement released on Wednesday, Flutterwave said its board chairman never spoke to ThisDay.

Speaking with sources familiar with the Feminist Coalition and Flutterwave #EndSARS Fund, the maintenance on the infrastructure powering the donation link was confirmed. While the donation links went down for maintenance purpose, the Providus bank account of Feminist Coalition was blocked for two hours without any reason, according to sources.

Before the clarification by Omojuwa, however, a tweet by the Feminist Coalition — the social advocacy group prominently crowdfunding and providing support for the protest against police brutality — had made an ambiguous tweet which fuelled the misinformation.  

In the deleted tweet, Feminist Coalition said: "For demanding an end to police brutality we are now under attack! Our bank account has been deactivated and so has the Flutterwave donation link. Our members’ lives are also being threatened".

The misinformation regarding the shutdown or summon of Flutterwave by the CBN could be alluded to the poorly composed tweet and the amplification provided by Ero Senin. Because, if sources in the Feminist Coalition confirms that Flutterwave informed them Monday evening, then the broken link is a routine maintenance.

Following the barrage of misinformation —  Nairametrics and The Guardian rehashed ThisDay report, Flutterwave released a statement on Wednesday. Flutterwave said the interview ThisDay alluded to never happened, adding that its payment platforms are up and running efficiently.

Our attention has been drawn to false quotes by Thisday, Nairametrics and Arise TV which have been erroneously attributed to our Board Chairman, Tunde Lemo.

Contrary to these reports, this interview never happened. Our payment platforms are up and running efficiently, as usual. Merchant payouts and collections are running seamlessly. Our consumer product, Barter by Flutterwave, is also completely operational.

We are overwhelmed by the love and support Flutterwave has received over the last few days as we continue to simplify payments for endless possibilities for you.

—The Flutterwave Team

According to sources, the volume of donations being received through the Flutterwave donation link were astronomical. Hence, the need to move it to a dedicated infrastructure.

Indeed, no infrastructure is immune to buckling under pressure. Following a tweet by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, the Feminist Coalition's Notion link was broken too.

The scheduled maintenance is still ongoing, according to Flutterwave Support.

Thus, the donation link for the #EndSARS Fund is still down at 10:30 AM, Thursday.

Flutterwave EndSARS Fund
Flutterwave EndSARS Fund

In the meantime, the Feminist Coalition has been making use of other donation links, including bitcoin address, since the #EndSARS Fund donation link was deactivated.

EndSARS raise over one million within minutes with BTC address
EndSARS raise over one million within minutes with BTC address

Within minutes of setting up a bitcoin address, the group reportedly received over one million naira.

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa