Claim: A viral video resurfaced on Friday, 18th June 2021 claiming the Nigerian Army had dealt a heavy blow on bandits who abducted students of FGC Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State, northwest Nigeria. The video showed men of the Nigerian Army dragging and piling dozens of corpses, allegedly of bandits.
The viral video is misleading as it is a 2016 video which resurfaced and is being circulated to sell a narrative that the Nigerian Army dealt a heavy blow to bandits who abducted students of FGC Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State.
Gunmen on Thursday, 17th June 2021 raided the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State, northwest Nigeria and abducted dozens of students and teachers in broad daylight. The Police command in Kebbi State, through its spokesperson, Nafiu Abubakar had said the gunmen killed a Police officer and shot one student who was receiving treatment. The number of students abducted is uncertain as some of the teachers said as many as 80 students were abducted.
By the next day, the Nigerian Army spokesperson , Onyema Nwachukwu, said in a statement that troops tracking the kidnappers had found one female student dead in the forest but rescued five students and two teachers. He said the Nigerian Army troops operating under the auspices of ‘Operation Hadarin Daji’ who had been in pursuit of the bandits had rescued the students and teachers after a fierce exchange of fire with the criminals.
“The rescue followed an initial encounter with the abductors in the early hours of today (Friday) June 18th, 2021 after trailing the kidnappers from Yauri through Riyao to Sombo community, where the abductors who had split into two groups fled, with one group conveying the abducted children, while the second group conveyed rustled cattle,” he said.
A BBC Hausa report of 18th June had quoted residents of Sakaba in Birnin Kebbi saying Nigerian security forces killed at least 80 bandits during an ambush around Makoko village and the corpses were being piled near a primary school. The revelation prompted many Nigerians to take to social media to link the army’s alleged success against the bandits with a video showing what appeared to be Nigeria’s security forces piling corpses.
Social media users further linked the video to a statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari during a live media chat with Arise TV on June 10th where he said he had given the military and police the order to be ruthless against bandits terrorizing the northwest. The president had stressed that: “We are going to treat them in the language they understand. We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be a difference.”
Flex Dino Kempes with 2,157 friends on Facebook posted the video on his page with the caption: “When the president said that we will soon start getting the results of his speaking to those causing problems in the country in a language they will understand very fast in the coming weeks, he wasn’t joking, results has started flying in from the northern part of the country.”
“Over 200 Bandits have been killed within the week and the count keeps on increasing with each passing day. Kebbi and Niger are becoming too hot for the Bandits to operate in. Fire on Nigeria Army, we are solidly behind you.” He stated while posting a video that showed men of the Nigerian Army piling corpses,” he wrote.
Bello Aliyu Wamako also posted the same video on his Facebook page with the caption: “83 suspected bandits were killed by the Nigerian Army.”
A user on Twitter, Mubarak Umar (@Mubarack_Umar) posted the video with the tweet: “Nigerian troops vs bandits.” while other users such as Abimbola King (@Harbimborlar) and EL.Farouq Sarkinoma (@ESarkinoma) retweeted the videos.
The viral video
This reporter observed that the video that has gone viral on social media appeared in two lengths. One was a 2 minutes 50 seconds video while a second version of the same video was shortened to 59 seconds. The video showed soldiers who appeared to be men of the Nigerian Army scattered around an arid area dragging and piling corpses.
Twenty-five seconds into the video, a voice in the background could be heard saying, “yes I can see you guys working,” while other soldiers made small talks in Hausa and English languages as they dragged corpses scattered around the vicinity to a spot. At about one minute eight seconds into the video, the man making the recordings said to his colleague: “Nna, enh, I fear yesterday. I swear to God, wetin fear me be say suicide bomber dey pass…” Nna is an Igbo originated word meaning man.
At one minute 33 seconds into the video, while the corpses were being piled up, the man behind the camera said in Hausa: “asa wani bisa wani (pile them on top of each other) while another soldier said: “Taya za musa” (We’ll use tires). The person recording the video could be heard saying: “ina tayoyin ne yallaboi” (where are the tires sir?).
The soldiers continued with talks on how to get firewood to burn the corpses and at two minutes 46 seconds, one of the soldiers who attempted to fire shots at a corpse was reprimanded by a senior officer who told him not to waste his bullet on a corpse.
This reporter first observed that the video appeared to have been shot in an arid area with soldiers appearing in the Nigerian Army desert camouflage used for combat operation in the northern part of the country.
The Nigerian Army had in 2016 launched the harmonized military desert and woodland camouflage uniform with all arms of the military wearing the same camouflage uniform. While the desert camouflage is designed to blend with the terrain in the northern part of the country, the woodland camouflage is adopted for the terrain in the south.
This reporter also conducted a keyframe analysis of the video using various reverse image search engines such as TinEye, Google reverse image search and Yandex. While TinEye did not produce any useful result, Google reverse image search showed that the video had been retweeted several times in the last few days.
Using Yandex reverse image search, this reporter found that the same video had appeared in 2020 and was posted by EngHausa24 with the caption: “Wannan videon ance shine abunda ya faru yau a dajin Rugu dajke karamar hukumar Danmusa a jihar Katsina.” (This video is said to be what happened today in Rugu forest in Danmusa local government area of Katsina State).
A screenshot of the video posted by EngHausa24 in 2020
Still using Yandex, an earlier version of the same video was posted by Samba Galaxy in 2016 with the caption: “You need to watch and share this. What our soldiers encounter and go through to protect our lands. Viral it goes.”
A keyword search also led to the video which was posted but now deleted on tori.ng in 2016 with the caption: “Dead bodies everywhere! See what soldiers did to Boko Haram members.” Further explanation about the video had stated that: “A video footage from the northeast shows Nigerian Military men dragging bodies of slain Boko Haram fighters. The Nigerian forces seem to be winning the war.
This Fact check concludes that the viral video of men of the Nigerian Army seen dragging and piling corpses of alleged bandits who kidnapped students of FGC Birnin Yauri is misleading as the video first appeared online in 2016. Therefore, the video could not have been connected to the latest alleged onslaught on bandits in the northwest.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.