Can the Body Language of a Subject Define Truth in Communication?

The Military revealed that Boko Haram leader, Shekau says he’s ready to surrender- The Daily Times reports.

Can the Body Language of a Subject Define Truth in Communication?

As it is, this claim is no more than a rumour; it projects a case of a sensational headline in which the message in the caption differs from what the body of the text conveys. This is a classic definition of fake news. 

Full Text 

On April 21, under the banner headlines, “Boko Haram leader Shekau says he’s ready to surrender-Military,”   The Daily Times reported of Abubakar Shekau, leader of the notorious Islamic sect – Boko Hara’s – alleged willingness to surrender. The report credits Major General John Enenche of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), as the source of its story. 

Boko Haram is responsible for many attacks in Nigeria, especially in the north.  Recently, on the 21st of April, the Defence Headquarters informed the public of an airstrike on the terrorist group at their base in Borno state. Lafiya Dole, the frontline operational theatre in the campaign against the insurgents, reportedly destroyed the compound housing the terrorists in Sambisa Forest, Borno.

Before the operation, there has been news of surrender from some members of the sect. According to the military, ‘Abubakar has been making frantic efforts to seek a soft landing as he prepares to surrender.’  Nigerians have also been speaking loudly, advising the military on how to manage the presumed surrender. Fani Kayode, an opposition politician and one-time Minister of Aviation, is one of those who have so advised the federal government on what to do if he surrenders.

Since the Daily Times published the report on the same day of the ambush; it lends basis to believe that it was the event that inspired the publication. The critical question, however, is whether Shekau made those comments about his readiness to surrender.  Let’s find out.

Apparent Disconnect

The first striking thing about the story is the organisational structure and the apparent disconnect. While the headline of the publication suggests a statement made by Shekau- ‘he is ready to surrender’, the body of the text made inferences riddled with speculations- ‘Shekau May soon surrender’. Therefore, Dubawa recognises a case of a misleading headline, one of the strategies employed by fake-news purveyors.

The disconnect between headlines and body text is an essential strategy of purveyors of misinformation who struggle to cover their trails by omitting dates, regardless of the importance of periods to ascertain a story’s authenticity.  Case in point, this author mentioned a press briefing at Abuja, without giving the date of the conference.

Convoluted Headlining Amid Zero Corroboration

Further research revealed a similar report in the Daily Post which rests its claims also on speculation. In this instance, however, it elucidates the phrase, “may surrender soon”. The news platform claimed that the General made the statement upon reading the terrorist’s ‘body language’ and from any verbal statement he made. In other words, the report resorted to an assumption as a basis for authenticating a report. 

Also, the total absence of resonance from any credible news platform adds further scepticism to this claim; especially when you consider that this was to be a major story. If it were factual, it would capture the imagination of Nigerians, the sub-region and the international community. The fight against Boko Haram which entered its second decade this year is considered one of the most important security challenges in Africa today.

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