Fact CheckSecurity

Photos of unmarked helicopters purportedly flying over Maiduguri forests from the US, not Nigeria

Claim: A twitter user shared photos of unmarked helicopters allegedly seen by villagers, flying over and airdropping packages in forests in Maiduguri.

Photos of unmarked helicopters allegedly flying over and dropping packages in Maiduguri forests are FAKE. The photos were lifted from incidents in the United States of America.

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Insecurity in Nigeria has continued to be heightened by activities of insurgents across the country, especially in the North-East region. There have been allegations of foreign interest and sponsorship of Boko Haram and other insurgent groups responsible for attacks in the region.

On Tuesday 11th May 2021, a twitter user Defense News Nigeria shared a thread alleging the French government of sponsoring African militant and rebel groups. It also linked France to the recent upsurge of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. A thread on Twitter is a series of connected Tweets from one user.

In the opening tweet, Defense News Nigeria shared three photos of unmarked helicopters purportedly flying over forests in Maiduguri and dropping packages.

The tweet reads: “Residents in several villages talk about unmarked helicopters flying over forests in Maiduguri air dropping packages. Especially at night. In one incident they watched the helicopter crashes. Villagers ran to the scene to rescue the occupants and were stunned to see two Caucasian men burning briefcases of hundred dollar bills before running away from the crash site.”

The post, which claimed the incident happened in 2015, generated 3,743 retweets, 411 quote tweets and 4,471 likes.

Screenshot of the tweet


Dubawa analyzed the photos and a reverse image search showed that the photos of the helicopters were lifted from old publications on incidents in the United States of America.

The first photo was traced to an incident in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is of a low-flying helicopter which drew curious looks from residents in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood in early June 2017. Findings later revealed it was a Philadelphia Energy Company helicopter on patrol of transmission lines.

The photo of the second helicopter in the tweet is a snapshot from a video in Medina County, Ohio. The video was made by landowners who heard gunshots coming from a helicopter flying over their property on April 15, 2016. Shooters in the helicopter were hunting feral hogs in the area.

Dubawa also found that the last photo in the tweet is of “an FBI helicopter above the Charleston area on Wednesday, May 22, 2019”, according to this publication. It explained that the incident was part of an FBI joint training with local police in Charleston County, South Carolina.


The post about unmarked helicopters flying over forests in Maiduguri and airdropping packages, used photos from Pennsylvania, Ohio and South Carolina in the US.

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