Fact CheckSecurity

Image from Tanzania falsely used to depict Boko Haram attack

Claim:  Twitter user claims that God struck Boko Haram with lightning while on their way to Niger (Nigeria) to destroy “Biafrans.”

The claim that God has struck Boko Haram forces with lightning while on their way to Nigeria to destroy “Biafrans” is false. The alleged image used to depict the narrative was taken from a fire incident that took place in Tanzania back in 2019. 

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A Twitter user, Dr Ken (@DrKen43273749), claims that God has struck Boko Haram insurgents with lightning whilst on their way to Nigeria to attack Biafrans. The user attached the narrative with a horrifying image showing a considerable number of charred bodies lying on the ground and made visible to onlookers. 

Screenshot of the claim

“The God of our land will always destroy them. Boko Haram terrorist trying to enter Niger to come and destroy Biafrans, but God strike them with lightning,” the user stated.  

Biafra and Boko Haram

Biafra was a state constructed by secessionists in Southeast Nigeria after some Igbo military leaders unilaterally declared their independence from Nigeria in May 1967. It constituted the former Eastern Region of Nigeria and was inhabited principally by Igbo people. 

Biafra ceased to exist as an independent state in January 1970. However, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was founded in 2012 by Nnamdi Kanu, to restore the independent state of Biafra.

Boko Haram  is also popularly known in Nigerian and Western media as “Boko Haram,” which means “Western education is forbidden.” Since its inception in 2009, the group has wreaked havoc on the country, causing the deaths and displacement of many civilians, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.

The alleged claim has garnered some traction on social media, particularly on Twitter, insinuating that Boko Haram’s plan to attack Biafra (Igbos in the south-east) was intercepted by God.  

One user, Taffy Ebuka (@Taffyebuka), even commented that a similar incident had happened before but was equally intercepted. 

“It’s always happening to them anytime they try to invade our land, last time it was an accident, today it was on fire 😂 Boko Fulani you can’t win us and your time is up, 2023 is our turn.”

Nigeria is currently facing problems of insecurity and with diverse news of tension around the country,  such claims are capable of inciting unrest and fear amongst the populace. 


A Google reverse image search conducted on the image traced it to a Reddit post in 2019 about a tanker explosion incident in Tanzania that killed over 70 persons. 

The earliest version of the alleged image shared on Reddit to depict the incident in Tanzania

Similarly, the image was also featured on Media Brest and Spy Uganda, when a crashed tanker exploded and killed at least 62 people who were trying to syphon off the fuel in the Tanzanian town of Morogoro. 

In a news report by CNN and other news media outlets, the incident was confirmed to have taken place. In fact,  The Tanzanian police described the unfortunate circumstance as one of the worst tragedies of its kind to befall the East African country.

Aside from victims that lost their lives in the incident, the Tanzanian state broadcaster KBC, citing police figures, said at least 70 other people were injured during the explosion in the town of Morogoro, about 120 miles west of the economic hub of Dar es Salaam, the capital.

Furthermore, in one report by Daily Express on the incident, a picture was featured that captured a Tanzanian policeman standing at the scene of the accident. Concurrently, the same policeman also appeared in the alleged image, confirming the fact that the incident took place in Tanzania and not anywhere in Nigeria. See details in images 1 and 2 below: 

Image 1: a screenshot of the alleged image

Image 1 is the alleged picture shared by the claimant. Apparently, a Tanzanian police officer is seen in the background (circled in red) putting on a blue shirt and khaki trousers. Image 2 (below) is the picture used by Daily Express to report on the incident. Noticeably, the same policeman is seen in the background.  

Image 2: a screenshot of a Daily Express news report on the issue

Evidently, the alleged picture has been used in different contexts to spread false narratives.  In India, the same picture was used to spread disinformation about a fire outbreak but fortunately, it was debunked in this fact-check. 

This is also not the first time DUBAWA is debunking false claims related to this same fire incident in Tanzania.  In June this year, a video from the incident was falsely shared on WhatsApp alleging that bandits were roasted by lightning on their way to attack Christians in Zamfara State.


The picture used to spread the information of a Boko Haram planned attack on Biafra and, by extension, the southeastern parts of Nigeria is false. The picture was originally taken in Tanzania, when a fuel tanker exploded, killing many people.

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