Claim: Several Facebook users claim soldiers of the Nigerian Army intercepted a sand truck which concealed sophisticated weapons and ammunition allegedly billed for delivery to bandits in Birnin Gwari forest of Kaduna State.
This claim is false. Security agents have denied intercepting the truck and images of the cache of weapons that accompanied the story are recycled images that had appeared in 2013 and 2015.
On July 13, 2021, three pictures and a report appeared on Facebook with the claim that Nigerian soldiers intercepted a truck containing sand which concealed sophisticated weapons, including rocket propelled launchers and ammunition along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road. The lengthy post in Hausa and English soon gained traction and was shared several times by social media users.
The post stated that after evacuating the sand, the soldiers discovered over 6,000 ammunition, 34 AK-47 rifles, three rocket propelled launchers, six explosive vests and many other sophisticated weapons. It indicated that some very influential Nigerians were behind the transportation of the weapons.
According to the report, the vehicle driver had confessed that he was paid N200,000 to convey the weapons to a forest in Birnin Gwari and hinted that his accomplices were trailing behind in a Toyota Highlander Jeep. The soldiers were said to have arrested five people from the jeep and with the driver, the six suspects were moved to a military facility in Kaduna for further questioning.
Abatam Nwosu with 3,918 friends on Facebook posted the message which was shared 22 times. The report and images were also circulated in Hausa by a Facebook user, Dahiru Mukhtar which was also shared 58 times from his timeline. On Instagram, a popular blogger Muhammad Auwal Muazu (@hausaa_fulani), who has 560,000 followers, also posted the report and images.
In all instances, the report was circulated with three pictures including that of the alleged truck that was intercepted and the cache of sophisticated weapons seized.
Verifying Image 1
The first image was that of the alleged truck with a red head and a white body. The picture which was taken at night appeared blurry. A Yandex image search and Tineye did not provide any information on the picture but a Google reverse image search only took this reporter to the same report and images on the alleged interception as published by other platforms.
Verifying Image 2
Image two is that of a cache of sophisticated weapons including rocket propelled launchers. A Yandex reverse image search shows the image has appeared numerous times online. According to Time, the images are of weapons seized by the Nigerian forces from Islamist extremists group, Boko Haram in Borno State and displayed for the press on June 5th 2013. It credited the image to Quentine Leboucher/AFP.
Further, i24 news also credited the same image to Quentine Leboucher/AFP and attributed the weapons to the ones displayed by Nigerian forces on June 5th 2013 after it seized them from Boko Haram.
Verifying Image 3
Using Tineye, 78 results were provided for image three which first appeared online in 2018. Yandex reverse image search also shows that the image has been used by a lot of international media outfits to visualize stories on gun control.
A report by [email protected]: titled “Will ‘Red Flag’ gun laws prevent mass shootings?” Indicated that the weapons were seized by authority and shown at a news conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 9th 2018. It also credited Jae C. Hong for the picture.
This image first appeared in 2018 and is credited to Jae C. Hong/AP
The image was also used by Politico in the story: “Canada bans assault-style guns after Nova Scotia rampage,” while San Francisco Chronicle in its use of the image corroborated that they were illegally possessed firearms seized by authorities and shown at a news conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. It also corroborated that the image was shot by Jae C. Hong of the Associated Press (AP).
Security sources in Kaduna have denied the report, calling it Fake News. This reporter reached out to the spokesperson of the Nigerian Army 1 Division, Col. Ezindu Idimah, who said the report was fabricated as no such arrest was made. The Nigerian Police Command in Kaduna through the Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, also said findings show no such arrests have been made within Birnin Gwari or Kaduna State. He said the report was fabricated and planted to achieve a mischievous agenda.
The report and images posted on social media depicting soldiers intercepting a sand truck concealing sophisticated weapons is misleading as two of the images used are recycled images that first appeared in 2013 and 2015 while there is insufficient evidence to trace the picture of the truck.
This researcher produced this Fact Check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust newspapers to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.