Claim: A user on Twitter shared a picture of Nollywood actor Osita Iheme dressed in the colours of the Biafran flag to show support for the secessionist group.
Verdict: The photo of Mr Iheme adorned in the Biafran flag is photoshopped to suit the narrative.
Twitter user, Chris Ososa Asuelime (@OsosaChris), alleges famous Nollywood actor Osita Iheme also known as “Paw-Paw,” has shown his support for the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Biafra is a state conceived by secessionists in Southeast Nigeria after some Igbo military leaders unilaterally declared their independence from Nigeria in May 1967. It constituted a part of 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, a believer in the course of secession, to restore the independent State of Biafra.
Recently, a tweet, accompanied by a photograph of Mr Iheme adorned in the colours of the Biafran flag, purported that the celebrity actor, who is also from the region, is in support of the secessionist movement, adding that Mr Iheme still supports IPOB movement even after they had allegedly killed his brother.
“Osita Iheme, a.k.a PawPaw showed off his support for Biafra, but in the execution of the five days Sit-at-Home that started in the South East today, IPOB shot dead his elder brother! I didn’t say ANYTHING!” the post read.
The tweet generated over 291 retweets, 687 likes and over 112 quotes within hours of its appearance. While other users argued that the alleged picture is photoshopped, others felt otherwise.
@WarriWierdo commented that the image is photoshopped and was shared with the flair of hatred.
“U don go photoshop picture come post and some mumu dey believe u. This just shows how much your hatred is screaming. If dem sue u now u go say who famous dey oppress u or IPOB don pay am [sic].”
DUBAWA also finds that the picture was featured in a blog post on Abiodun BorisadeTV with more details that highlight Mr Iheme’s passion and support for the movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Similar allegations in the past have triggered some controversies and aroused diverse debates related to unhealthy political views targeted at tribalism and ethnocentrism.
A Google reverse image of the image showed that the attributed photo of Mr Iheme was doctored and initially lifted from his Instagram handle @ositaIheme.
The environment, shoes, eyeglasses, cap and even Mr Iheme’s pose are the same as the one in the original version of the image that he shared in July 2022.
Did IPOB kill Mr Iheme’s brother?
On December 10, 2022, PremiumTimes reported that gunmen invaded Orji, a community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, South-east Nigeria, where Prince Iheme, an elder brother to Nollywood actor Osita Iheme, was killed during a separate attack in Ubomiri, another community in the council area of the state.
Although the media widely reported the event, no mention of IPOB was made. The reports, however, termed the perpetrators as “gunmen”. To date, IPOB is yet to take responsibility for the attack.
Although the actor has been linked to secessionist groups, DUBAWA could not trace records of the actor showing support for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as claimed by the Twitter user.
The alleged photo of Mr Iheme adorned in a Biafran flag is photoshopped to suit the narrative. While Mr Iheme’s brother was killed in December last year, no report links it to IPOB. The claim is false.