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Igbo passengers not attacked in Plateau. Viral photos from Zimbabwe and elsewhere

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Claim: Photos widely shared on social media claim to be from a deadly attack on Igbo passengers in Plateau State by the Fulani.

The photos in circulation are from unrelated events in Zimbabwe and Umuahia, NOT from Plateau.

Full Text

Still grappling with insurgency in the North-East, there has been an upsurge of violence in states across Nigeria, with a recurring bloodbath in Plateau State dominating the news in the past weeks.

Scores of people including university students have been killed, with many others displaced in violent attacks by armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. Along with banditry and kidnapping, the herdsmen’s attack is one of triggers of current insecurity in Nigeria.

The recent sordid development has forced governments of states (especially those in Nigeria’s south) to evacuate their indigenes from Plateau State, amidst suspicions of increased/reprisal attacks.

This has aroused concerns amongst many Nigerians about some photos that went viral on Sunday 29th August 2021, with claims that they depicted a deadly attack by the Fulani on about 230 Igbo passengers in Jos, Plateau State.

Screenshot of the message repeatedly shared on WhatsApp

“Breaking News Jos Crisis: Fulani men intersected on 2 luxurious bus (sic) conveying Igbo’s home and set it on fire killing 230 Igbo’s. Every Igbo man in Jos right now should avoid Jos express road and stay indoors, if possible, run to a church or Army barrack,” the message read.

“There is an ongoing meeting in Enugu right now by Ohanaeze on how to convey you people back home as soon as possible.”

The claim was shared repeatedly on social media including WhatsApp and Facebook, apparently raising concerns for the safety of non-indigenes in Jos, Plateau State, particularly those of Igbo extraction, with a propensity for inter-ethnic clashes.

Verification

Using the image reverse search, Dubawa identified the source of each of the four photos in circulation.

This photo of a red bus in flames is from an incident that reportedly happened in Umuahia in 2019

A Bing reverse image search revealed that the photo of the red bus was from a fire incident in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, involving a bus belonging to the Young Shall Grow Motors.

Dubawa found from a Google reverse image search that the photo of the white bus in circulation originated from a road accident in Zimbabwe which claimed the lives of 29 passengers.

Screenshot showing a report of the bus fire in Zimbabwe, from where the photo was lifted

The source of the other photo was traced using the Google reverse image, to the 2015 report of a riot in Ajaoukuta, Kogi State.

Screenshot of the 2015 report

Meanwhile, the Plateau state government has described as fake the news of the incident.

A statement by the governor’s spokesperson, Makut Macham, said members of the public should ignore a social media post purportedly showing luxurious buses on fire with the caption “Plateau crises and genocide worsens as 2 luxurious buses conveying Igbos down East were set on fire with 156 passengers inside.”

“This is purely the handiwork of crisis merchants and mischief makers who want to create panic and instigate violence and fear among the people,” it stated.

Similarly, the police in Plateau state have also asked the public to disregard the news, as there is no record of such an incident anywhere in the state.

“We urge members of the public to disregard and stop the spread of such fake news capable of inspiring unwarranted panic, hatred, negativity, chaos and tribal conflict among the well-spirited residents of Plateau and Nigeria in general,” said police spokesperson, Ubah Ogaba.

“We enjoin all citizens to cooperate with the Police and other security agencies by providing prompt and useful information that will help to enhance the security of the state rather than spreading unverified information capable of heating up the polity.”

Conclusion

The claim that 230 Igbos commuters were attacked and killed by Fulani in Jos, Plateau State, is fake. Photos widely shared on social media purportedly from the incident are also fake. Dubawa found that all four photos were lifted from unrelated and past events in Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

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