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Old video about bandits threatening Nigerian churches recirculated on WhatsApp

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Claim: A WhatsApp user has circulated a post claiming that bandits have recently circulated a letter threatening churches in Nigeria to close down. 

Old video about bandits threatening Nigerian churches recirculated on WhatsApp

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One of the challenges facing the Northwest has been insecurity from bandits’ attacks on churches, mosques, motor packs, communities, and schools.

A WhatsApp user posted a video on May 14, 2024, with the inscription, “Bandits have sent threat letters to churches in Nigeria to close down, that they own Nigeria and they want to take over their country back. Let’s be careful and security conscious.”

In the video, the former Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, confirmed the receipt of a threatening letter from suspected bandits instructing Christians to close down churches for three months in Zamfara.

In the video, Mr Elkana said that the letter was brought to the headquarters and opened by him.

Old video about bandits threatening Nigerian churches recirculated on WhatsApp
Screenshot of viral WhatsApp post

The virality of the post on WhatsApp groups and the sensitive nature of the claim prompted DUBAWA to verify it.


We conducted a Google Reverse Image Search on the video and discovered that the footage has been in circulation since 2021.

We found the original video on YouTube, where the commissioner spoke about the letter received.

The video was filmed in Zamfara when Mr Elkanah briefed the press on November 30, 2021. During the press briefing in Gusau, the state capital, Mr Elkanah confirmed receiving a threatening letter sent by suspected bandits instructing churches in Zamfara to close down for three years or risk being attacked.

“The letter was dropped at the entrance gate of the state’s police command by unidentified persons,” the police commissioner had said.

While rolling out strategies put in place by security agencies to avert security breaches, the police chief clarified that the threat letter listed some churches on the outskirts of the state’s capital slated for attack during church activities before the end of 2021.

The report was also published by Vanguard newspaper on Dec 1, 2021.


Our findings show that the video of threat letters from bandits to churches in Zamfara state is not recent and has been circulating since 2021. The video recirculating on WhatsApp is misleading.

The researcher produced this fact-check for the DUBAWA 2024 Kwame KariKari Fellowship, in partnership with Olufisoye Adenitan, FRCN positive fm Akure Ondo state Nigeria, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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