bandits

  • Recent footage of burnt bodies from Tanzania, not Nigeria as claimed

    Claim: A WhatsApp video has a claim that bandits were roasted by lightning on their way to attack Christians in Zamfara state.

    Our findings show the video attached to the claim is from a tanker explosion that took place in Morogoro town of Tanzania, not Nigeria. The claim is therefore misleading. 

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    In recent time, Nigeria has recorded killings perpetrated by terrorists. A church at Owo, Ondo State, and the ones that left three killed in Kaduna churches, prayers against banditry are not far-fetched from religious Nigerians. 

    Posing as an answer to these prayers is a video of burnt bodies that circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook. Accompanying the video is a claim that this footage is of bandits who were struck by lightning while on their way to attack some christians in Zamfara state.

    “It happened in Zamfara State yesterday. I was told the Bandits were going to attack some Christians on their way Lightning and Thunder struck and they were roasted beyond measure. Who told you there is no GOD?,”the message read. 

    This video has been forwarded many times on WhatsApp groups alongside the caption. 

    The claim has been forwarded many times on WhatsApp

    On Facebook, this same message has been shared by several users who believed it to be true.

    These Facebook users believed it was true

    In the past, DUBAWA had found claims like this either false or misleading. Hence, the reason for this fact-check.

    Verification

    As of the time of this verification, no media platform in Nigeria has reported that bandits were struck by lightning. Usually, such an event would make headlines in newspapers. Seeing it has not been reported is the first red flag.

    DUBAWA further observed that the viral claim neither stated the exact location of such happening in Zamfara nor disclosed the name of the Christian gathering the supposed bandits were planning to attack.

    Further checks revealed that the exact video has also been used by a blog to paint a similar narrative in 2021. However, like the recent ones, it did not say where such an event happened in Zamfara State.

    Screenshot of the claim published by a blog in 2021

    After watching the video in question, DUBAWA could see an explosion scene which clearly negates the narrative of “lightning” and “thunder.”

    Following that, a YouTube keyword search was conducted and among the many explosion videos that surfaced, a 2020 report by Al Jazeera and NTV Kenya was similar to the video being circulated.

    Al Jazeera reported that 60 people were feared dead after a tanker exploded in Morogoro town, Tanzania. The tanker had earlier fallen and “people came to take what they could. But then, disaster,” it said. 

    Al Jazeera also said that despite the help of emergency workers to save those that were caught up in the flames, it was too late and many were burnt beyond recognition. The motorcycles of people who came to collect fuel were also burnt.

    Al Jazeera’s report in 2020

    A side-by-side comparison of the circulating video and Al Jazeera’s report showed three similarities. Firstly, standing before the burning tanker are trees that have also been affected by the fire. Secondly, the tanker is lying in the same position as seen in the two videos. And thirdly, the two videos showed many burnt motorcycles.

    Comparison 1: On the right is a screenshot from the circulating video and on the left is Al Jazeera’s report
    Comparison 2:  On the right is a screenshot from the circulating video and on the left is Al Jazeera’s report

    In order to determine which language was spoken by the people in the circulating video, DUBAWA reached out to Muhammad Auwal, an Hausa-speaking Nigerian to translate what the people in the video say. However, not able to comprehend what he heard, he doubted if the speakers were Hausas. 

    One of them responded, “I can’t actually understand what they are saying. Are you sure it is any of the Nigerian Languages? Is the scene Nigeria?”

    Likewise, Abba Adamu, a Hausa staff member of Daily Trust newspaper confirmed that the language spoken in the video was not Hausa.

    “It’s not Hausa,” he simply said after watching the video.

    Conclusion

    Our findings show the video attached to the claim is from a tanker explosion that took place in Morogoro town of Tanzania, not anywhere in Nigeria. The claim is therefore misleading.

  • Drone footage of bandits shot in Kenya, not Nigeria

    Claim: A Facebook user claims drone footage of bandits is from Nigeria.

    Verdict: Our findings show this video is not from Nigeria, as it first appeared as drone footage from Laikipia, Kenya.

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    With recent events like the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, and the attempted attack on the Kaduna Airport,  security has remained a top priority for many Nigerians.

    On Tuesday, March 5, 2022, a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Joe Igbokwe, shared a video. He accompanied the video with the claim that it is a footage of bandits who have been kidnapping Nigerians. 

    “This is drone footage of armed bandits who have been kidnapping Nigerians. The footage shows them in their hideout in an unknown forest,” part of the post read.

    This post already has over 1,000 shares and 31 comments. 

    Screenshot of the Facebook post by Joe Igbokwe

    We have also observed that this video is being shared on WhatsApp groups with different narratives on the location.

    Verification

    We looked at the video to understand its content and context but could not because the video had no audio. However, we observed there are five men in this video and one of the men was holding what looked like an AK-47. 

    A Google reverse image search on different frames of the video did not provide any helpful leads; therefore, we did a manual search. 

    On Facebook, we found posts with this video and its claim here, here and here. We also found a post on Twitter by AF News (@AFNewsNG) with the same claim. 

    However, we found a Facebook Post with a different narrative that this video is from Kenya.

    “Bandits spotted by a super drone,” the post read.

    A Twitter post by Madoka Kibet (@Madoka_ke) also contained the video below. This Tweet was, however, deleted shortly after it was found.

    “Security Surveillance Drone ambushes Kalenjin bandits inside Baragoi forest. An Irritated bandit is seen unsuccessfully trying to shoot down the drone,” part of the Twitter post reads.

    A YouTube video by Voice Tv Nigeria on Monday April 5,2022, noted this was a video of bandits spotted by a drone in Laikipia. 

    Screenshot of YouTube video by Voice Tv Nigeria. 

    An earlier YouTube video by Trending Videos Kenya on Sunday, April 3, 2022, noted this was a video of Pikot bandits captured by a drone inside their hideout in Laikipia forest. 

    Screenshot of YouTube video by Trending Videos Kenya

    Laikipia is one of the 47 counties of Kenya located on the equator in the former rift valley province of the country.

    Screenshot of Laikipia on Google Map

    We also found a report by BBC pidgin which debunked the claim that this video was from Nigeria.

    Conclusion

    Our findings show this video is not from Nigeria; it first appeared as drone footage from Laikipia, Kenya. This makes the claim false.

  • The role of informants and implications for Nigeria’s fight against terrorism

    In July 2021, troops of Operation Hadin Kai arrested scores of Boko Haram fighters, informants and logistics suppliers in Nigeria’s north east. The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said at the time that some of the suspects had confessed to working as informants for the terrorists, by providing them information on troops’ movements, locations, deployments, strength, calibre of weapons and other activities. He said, “they also admitted to have supplied the terrorists with basic logistics for their daily survival, ranging from supply of petroleum and lubricants, drugs, mosquito nets, kola nuts, recharge cards and food stuff.”

    Nigeria is presently faced with several security challenges and experts say that informants who collaborate with these criminal gangs continue to hinder success in the fight against terrorism. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there are four types of informants: a member of the public, a victim of a crime, a member of an organized criminal group, and police officers themselves. In Nigeria currently, the word informant is used to depict collaborators of criminal gangs especially the terrorist group, Boko Haram in the north east and criminal gangs locally referred to as bandits in the north west.

    Recently, the Commissioner of Police in Katsina State, Sanusi Buba in an interview with Daily Trust described these informants as not only those who provide criminal gangs with information but also other essential commodities like motorbikes, fuel, food stuff, recharge cards, and many others. CP Buba said dealing with such people has been difficult and continues to undermine the fight against banditry in the north west. 

    Alleging that most informants reside in communities where criminal atrocities are committed, the CP said information from previously arrested suspects reveal that most, if not all the information available to bandits and terrorists before they invade villages to abduct people, are predicated on information they secure from people living within the communities.

    Suspicion between communities and law enforcement agents 

    Another major challenge in the war against insurgency in Nigeria has been hostilities and suspicions between host communities and law enforcement agencies; both of which often are casualties of criminal gangs. For instance, security agencies sometimes accuse host communities of withholding vital information that could lead to the success of their operation. They also accuse communities of shielding the insurgents. Host communities on the other hand say security agents must keep a tight noose around information shared between them to build confidence.

    Lado Ibrahim, a member of vigilante in one of the remote communities of Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State explained that: “At the beginning of Boko Haram, some Nigerians were patriotic enough to give information to security agents on the activities of the terrorist but at the same time, the security agents were unable to manage the information and so these terrorists return to the communities and unleash their terror.” He added that it is the same in the north west where activities of bandits have continued to leave a devastating impact on communities in the hinterlands. 

    On his part, Samaila Idris of Galadimawa in Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State said many are aware that the activities of criminals who kill and abduct people for ransom is aided by informants, adding that releasing such sensitive information could come with devastating repercussions. 

    “Many people are afraid, we don’t know who to trust even among law enforcement agencies,” said Idris who explained that many villagers are on the lookout for informants who live among the people.

    How communities can spot informants  

    While advising residents on the need to identify and report informants or accomplices of bandits, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai recently said anyone who comes to buy between 20 to 100 loaves of bread should be looked upon with suspicion.

    El-Rufai, while hinting that such a person may be an informant or accomplice, urged those in the hinterlands to render services to them but also report them to security agencies. He said: “Anyone who comes to buy between 20 to 100 loaves of bread, sell it to him but also notify security agents. Or when someone comes with about 20 phones and wants to charge them, let them charge them, but also notify security agents.”

    Giving further clarification on informants, the Kaduna State Police Command said people should look out for those who buy petrol in jerry cans or other containers in large quantities as well as observe sudden behavioural  changes among neighbours and acquaintances in rural areas. 

    Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige said: “Some of these people suddenly have money and increase their spendings. It may be that the person has married a new wife from another community or that you notice the person makes a lot of suspicious calls. You may also notice sudden changes in their movements.”

    He urged people in the rural areas to be observant and report such people to law enforcement agents for investigation. ASP Jalige however cautioned that such sensitive information must not be shared with everyone.

    “We advise that such information must be shared only with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) not with other ranks. In the case where the person does not want to be seen as going into a police station, the person can reach out to our control room lines or call the PPRO because we treat such information with utmost confidentiality,” he said.   

    The researcher produced this literacy article per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship in partnership with Daily Trust newspapers to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

  • Picture depicting bandits using drones not from Nigeria

    Claim:  A social media user claimed bandits are using drones to perfect operations as they continue their heinous attack in the northern part of the country.

    The picture shared by the Facebook user is not from Nigeria but Burkina Faso, and it dates back to April 2021. Similarly, the gadgets in the photo belonged to journalists killed in Pama Reserve in Burkina Faso, not drones by bandits in Nigeria.

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    A Facebook user, Radhiyyat Taiye, in a post on Sunday, September 26, 2021, shared a picture of some gadgets, including phones, a pouch, a power bank, and others.

     The gadgets in the picture were claimed to belong to bandits. Credit: Facebook

    Referring to the picture, the social media user claimed that bandits are now using drones as they continue to wreak havoc on vulnerable communities in the northern part of Nigeria.

    The photo post amassed 53 likes and 23 comments, with many reactions aligning with the poster’s position.

    “The bandits have and use drones. Alhamdulillah (praised be to God) for the successes of our security forces. So far, so good,” she authoritatively claimed.

    Rodhiyyat’s post came amid ongoing military operations against bandits, Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappers, and perpetrators of other sundry crimes in northwest and northeast Nigeria.

    Banditry in Nigeria

    A code name for organised crimes like kidnapping, cattle rustling, mass abduction, arson, and armed robbery, banditry is one of the biggest nightmares in northwest Nigeria, which began to expand as non-state political actors try to jeopardize the communal peace and take control of vulnerable communities.

    Current conflict situations in Nigeria showed that what is termed banditry has been in existence over the last 20 years. This is clearly manifested as a result of acute leadership failure, a break in the political chain of trust, and irresponsibility of government in safeguarding borders, protecting and providing for its citizens.

    Before metamorphosing from farmer-herder crisis into what appears to be terrorism– banditry was treated as a local affair as past governments in states like Zamfara negotiated with aggrieved youths who are carrying guns against the unarmed civilians.

    Although largely unconnected with the Boko Haram carnage, bandits have shown higher resilience in their operation climaxed by the shooting of a military fighter jet.

    According to ACAPS, a non-profit, non-governmental project providing international, independent humanitarian analysis, between March 2020–June 2021, over 1,400 students and staff have been kidnapped in several school abductions reported in northwest Nigeria. 

    These abductions took place in Kankara and Mahuta (Katsina state), Kagara and Tegina (Niger state), Jangebe and Maradun (Zamfara state), Mando, Afaka, and Kasarami (Kaduna state), and Birnin Yauri (Kebbi state).

    In its report, the American Security Project Report (2021) stated that over 200,000 people had fled their communities in northern Nigeria this year, while 77,000 of them crossed the border in search of safer abodes outside the country.

    In his article titled “Banditry: Residents of North-west states reluctantly embrace stringent measures as governors unite,” a security expert and public affairs analyst, Mohammed Babangida, stated that the activities of bandits have reawakened a new strategy by the government in the fight against the evil perpetrators.

    In the collective fight against bandits’ activities, governments in some affected states have shut down schools. In September, Kaduna cut the communication lines in 13 local government areas.

    This followed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)’s directives for the immediate shutdown of telecommunication networks in Zamfara state.  

    Many Nigerians, including the Nigerian Senate, have called on the government to classify bandits as terrorists due to their constant attacks.

    Verification

    Using Yandex, a reverse image search, Dubawa found that the picture first appeared on the internet specifically on April 27, 2021 not in Nigeria but Burkina Faso.

    In a tweet written in French which was posted by Wassim Nasr, a famous analyst and journalist with FRANCE24, the tweep, Nasir, uploaded the picture and stated that “the material” in the photo belonged to 3 journalists (1 Irish and 2 Spanish)  “killed on the N18 near the reserve of #Pama” in Burkina Faso.

    The translation of the tweet from French to English reads “#BurkinaFaso the material of the 3 (2 #Espagne 1 #Irlande ) journalists killed on the N18 near the reserve of #Pama . Photos of the 3 remains, including one of one of the two Spanish nationals, is clearly identifiable.” The journalist wrote in a tweet that has 45 retweets and 57 likes.

    A further search by Dubawa showed that another Twitter handle,  Atlas Times, also shared the same picture posted on April 27, confirming that the journalists might have been killed.

    “#Alert: Flag of Burkina FasoFlag of SpainFlag of Ireland 4 journalists (2 Spanish, 1 Irish and 1 a Burkinabe) were kidnapped by an armed group in south eastern Flag of Burkina Faso while travelling to a natural reserve. Sources indicate that they maybe killed.#BurkinaFaso #Spain #Ireland.”

       Screenshot of the tweet by France24 journalist Wassim Nasr. Credit: Twitter.

    Using the same picture, further findings through Yandex and Google led to a publication with the headline, “Two Spanish journalists who filmed a documentary on poaching murdered in Burkina Faso” published by La Razón, a Spanish daily newspaper.

    Corroborating the position contained in Wassim’s tweet, the Madrid-based news outlet identified the murdered Spanish journalists as David Beriáin and Roberto Fraile

    It reported that they were killed “after being assaulted by an armed group while working on a documentary about poaching on the Burkina Faso border with Benin.”

    The dare-devil journalists were kidnapped some days before they were gruesomely executed while traveling through a “dangerous area because it is a field of operations.”

    An Irish journalist also lost his life in the ambush and three other people were injured; a Burkinabe citizen is still missing. No armed group has yet claimed responsibility for the crime, but the modus operandi points to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS),” part of the report also read.

    UNESCO says murdered journalists deserved protection

    In a statement issued by its director-general Audrey Azoulay, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) described the murder as condemnable.

    The global agency’s boss said the murdered journalist deserved protection.

    “I condemn the murders of Spanish journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile as well as that of Irish anti-poaching activist Rory Young. Journalists must be able to carry out their work collecting and sharing information, an essential public good. They deserve protection, like rangers and environmental workers who safeguard other common goods, biodiversity and the natural environment.” part of the statement read.

    A Google search brought multiple and credible sources confirming the death of the journalists. Credit: Google Web Search.

    Conclusion

    The picture, though not too old, was used in a misleading context. The incident behind the image happened in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. And contrary to the claim, the materials in the picture belonged to murdered documentary journalists, not drones used by bandits.

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Soldiers did not kill Farakwai youth as widely claimed by Nigerian media

    Claim: Nigeria’s Guardian Newspaper, Sahara Reporters, Opera News and other local media claim that soldiers killed and injured Farakwai youths who were chasing bandits from their community on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.  

    The published stories are false and misleading. There is no evidence such incident happened in Kwanar Farakwai Village, Igabi Local Government in Kaduna State.

    Full Text

    Banditry has now reached an all time high in Nigeria, with constant reports of school kidnappings, murders and attacks on villages. The Nigerian government, as well as the international community are concerned, and rightfully so, as banditry is threatening food security, national mobility, foreign trade and is further discouraging more parents in Northern Nigeria from sending their children to school.

    It is, therefore, not surprising that local communities have created vigilante and hunter groups to protect and defend themselves against bandits as the federal government has not succeeded in exterminating the dreaded groups.

    Therefore,this situation can explain the dismay of citizens when a reputable media organisation like The Guardian Newspaper, along with other online media and blogs like Sahara Reporters, Opera News, Lindaikeji Blog, Tori.ng, Olorisupergal and Naijalumia report that Nigerian soldiers attacked youths who were chasing bandits from their community, killing three and leaving about 10 others hospitalised. The incident reportedly occurred on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Kwanar Farakwai village, Igabi Local Council of Kaduna State.

    But, what actually happened? Would Nigerian soldiers kill and harm youths trying to protect their people and community? 

    Dubawa read all the news stories about the event published on The Guardian Newspaper, Sahara Reporters, Opera News, Lindaikeji Blog, Tori.ng, olorisupergal, as well as Naijalumia, and the narratives were all the same. Youths from Kwanar Farakwai village in Igabi Local Council of Kaduna State, which happens to be some kilometres away from Zaria were chasing away kidnappers from their village when the kidnappers entered a cave. The youths were said to have beseeched the cave and it was alleged that a company around the area thought the youths were the criminals, they called security operatives to the scene and the soldiers on arrival killed three youths and injured about 10 others.

    Screenshot of Guardian’s Tweet on the story

    Verification

    An indigene and resident of Kwanar Farakwai village, Dr. Bashir Mijinyawa, told Dubawa that the incident did not happen at Farakwai, a town about 15 kilometres to Zaria. Dr. Mijinyawa said that the narration in the media is far from reality, noting that about 23:00 hours on July 23rd, 2021, some bandits attacked the Maraban Jos Division Police Headquarters in Kaduna, storming the station in three Sharon buses to override the divisional armoury but they were resisted by operatives. And that bandits did not attack Farakwai Village on that date and no youths were killed by soldiers.

    Dubawa also received a press statement by the Kaduna State Police Command dated July 24th, 2021 stating that the state’s police command on Maraban Jos was attacked but that the force fought them off. The press release was signed by ASP Muhammad Jalige, the Police Force Public Relations Officer for the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command. There was no mention of Kwanar Farakwai youths nor of report of any encounter with them.

    Conclusion

    The news stories on the killing of youths in Kaduna state are false and misleading. There is no evidence that youths in Kwanar Farakwai were killed and injured by soldiers. The only recorded incident that happened in Kaduna State between Wednesday 21st and Friday 23rd, 2021 was an attack on the Maraban Jos Divisional Police Station in Kaduna State.

  • How Misinformation Aggravates Farmers-Herders Conflict In Nigeria

    The crisis between farmers and herders, which has claimed thousands of lives, has become one of Nigeria’s gravest security challenges in recent years. The conflict, which is fundamentally a resource control problem between farmers and herders across the country, is fast sharpening ethnic, regional, and religious polarisation. 

    While most of the herders can be said to be Muslim-Fulani, who are traditionally nomadics, the farmers are often found across Christian denominations of various ethnic groups. Some of the problems identified are related to land and water use, obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft, and crop damage. 

    A 2017 report by the International Crisis Group said “drought and desertification have degraded pastures, dried up many natural water sources across Nigeria’s far-northern Sahelian belt and forced large numbers of herders to migrate south in search of grassland and water for their herds. Insecurity in many northern states also prompts increasing numbers of herdsmen to migrate south…” 

    Amnesty International in a report published in 2018 said about 3,641 persons were killed in various farmers-herders clashes between Jan. 2016 and Oct. 2018. The report also revealed that no fewer than 406 people were injured and 182,530 persons displaced following the destruction of 5,000 houses in various states across Nigeria.

     

    Image used to illustrate a herder with cattles. Photo: The Conversation

    In its research published in May, France 24, a French state-owned international news television network based in Paris, said clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria have killed more than 10,000 people in the past decade and displaced 300,000.

    HumAngle understands that truly, killings persist in many states of the country but the conflict has been laced with weaving destructive conspiracy narratives and fake news on social media. When wrong information is shared on social media, it inflames tensions because online users, on their part, accept any information that goes in line with their beliefs without even reading beyond the headlines. Sometimes, sharers of fake stories are simply not ignorant, but their bias shapes their conclusion.

    Trends 

    Earlier this year, Igangan community in Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria, was propelled to national attention  following the death of Fatai Aborede, a large-scale farmer and politician in the area in late Dec. 2020. The widely circulated report on his death was that he was killed by Fulani herdsmen while returning from his farm. 

    Image of Doctor Fatai Aborode, a large-scale farmer whose death generated controversy in Igangan. Photo: Living Times

    While there have been cases of killings and kidnappings in the axis before then, Aborede’s case stood out; it led to the unlawful intervention of separatist agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho. He visited the Igangan community in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State to evict Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Salihu Abdulkadir, an action that was condemned by the state and federal governments.

    Igboho claimed that Abdulkadir was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of farmers and residents of the community. Even after his denial, the Fulani leader and his subjects were forcefully sent out from the community they had lived in for decades. For the authorities, Igboho went above the roof because “no citizen has the right to eject others from wherever they wish to reside in the country.” However, many argued that he was filling the vacuum the government failed to fix. 

     

    Seriki Fulani in Igangan and Sunday Igboho when the latter served the Fulanis eviction notice. Photo: Koiki Media

    Igboho later proceeded to neighbouring Ogun State to purportedly evict herders residing there. Months later, there was a reprisal attack. While the police claimed that 11 people died in the attack, residents said over 20 people lost their lives in the battle. 

    Picture of burnt palace in Igangan community. Photo: Adejumo Kabir/HumAngle.

    In solidarity with the people of Igangan, Nigeria’s former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode in June, attached a picture of a man holding a burnt child to his tweet and he described the picture as a casualty from the Igangan crisis in Oyo State. Before the end of the day, the controversial post with a misleading picture, had garnered over 1,800 likes and 1,100 retweets. 

    A fact check on the post showed that the picture was not from Nigeria but from the Southern Cameroon crisis in Feb. Interestingly, an independent investigation into the deaths of Aborede months after revealed that his death had nothing to do with farmers-herders crisis as painted by a section of the media.

    Femi Fani-Kayode, ex-minister who shared a fake picture on the Igangan crisis. Photo: Femi Fani-Kayode/Facebook.

    While Aborede’s death was a focal point to justify the eviction of head of Fulani in the community, investigation by Neusroom, an online newspaper quoted the deceased’s father to have said his son’s death was a political assassination, disguised as herdsmen murder. The police later said his death was sponsored by his political opponents and a suspect has been remanded.

    Other misinformation

    The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in a report published in 2018 said its research showed that fake news in the social media fuels the farmers-herders crisis in Nigeria.

    The international media outfit stated then that “fake pictures circulating on social media which users are falsely claiming depict inter-communal violence are inflaming already high tensions in Nigeria” but a fact check revealed that the picture first appeared on the internet in 2011 in a story about domestic violence. Unfortunately, it surfaced online as a picture of farmers/herders crisis seven years after. 

    A herder standing beside his cattle. Photo: AFP

    “Another image appears to show half a dozen people who were killed in the attacks. On closer inspection it becomes clear that the picture was not taken in Nigeria, and is actually the scene of a 2015 traffic accident in the Dominican Republic. They are both too graphic for us to display and were accompanied by highly inflammatory comments,” BBC explained.

    In Sept. 2018, Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer to U.S. ex-President Donald Trump wrote on Facebook that 60,000 Christians have been killed by “Fulani Herdsmen” in Nigeria, since 2001, in a “jihad” against Christian ethnic groups. Interestingly, a fact check by AFP proved him wrong.

    At a point in Nigeria, there was a widely circulated doctored image of President Muhammadu Buhari justifying herders attack in Benue which angered the public. The presidency debunked this but it was after it had traveled wide. 

    A short video report by Root TV in late Jan., claimed that “Nigerian Government was offering Herdsmen N100 Billion so they can stop criminal activities.” The video was shared by many social media users including Dele Momodu, the publisher of Ovation magazine. Momodu tweeted saying, “Incredible things happen in this country” Alas! Africa Check ran a quick check on this and its findings revealed that the video was first recorded in 2019 and was even debunked then.

    HumAngle in a fact check published in Feb. exposed how prominent media outfits published a picture of a bare-chested herder posing with an assault rifle for a report on the bitter tales of residents of communities in Niger and Kaduna states. This newspaper did a reverse image search and our findings showed that the picture originated from CBS News in a 2014 photo gallery about the crisis in South Sudan.

    The danger 

    The danger in posting or reposting information online without verifying is that even if retracted or fact checked, the message has already been sent; opinions have been shaped and violence may occur. 

    Speaking with HumAngle on these ugly developments, Taiwo Adebulu, winner of African Check Awards in 2020, told our correspondent that the media is the only saviour that can make things right.

    “The farmer-herder crisis in Nigeria has been there for a long time and the advent of new media has aggravated the issue. People now post all sorts of things online to make the situation worse and I think the best way newsrooms or journalism can help is to continue to put out fact checks on radio, television and social media.”

    “People need to know that certain videos and pictures are not true. People easily believe what they see, people with an agenda go a long way to convince people that what they are pushing out is real. The fake news surrounding the farmer-herder crisis is so massive. When issues like that are aggravated, they lead to violence and at the end of the day, you realise that the cause of the crisis is a bunch of fake stories, pictures and videos that were pushed online,” Adebulu said. 

    Speaking on the way forward, the media expert urged “the media to continue to fact check stories and sort fact from fiction. We need to do that with the speed of light.  Whenever something is going viral, the media needs to verify and let people know the actual truth. The issue of the farmer-herder crisis may not end for now until the government lays the perfect template but we can reduce the crisis that comes out of it through responsible reporting from the media and fact checking some of the viral stuff online.”

    This article is a republished article from HumAngle.

  • Hooves padded sandals worn by poachers, not bandits as claimed in this viral message

    Claim: A WhatsApp message (with attached images) claims Nigerian bandits now wear cow hooves padded sandals to deceive soldiers about their movement.

    This message is misleading. The pictures were originally shared by ‘Speak out for Animals’, an organisation that advocates for the protection of animals, and the footwear were antelope hooves padded sandals used by poachers to deter ranchers from tracking them in Kruger, South Africa.

    Full Text

    The security situation in Nigeria is dire, with various armed groups like the Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappers and bandits wreaking havoc on citizens, particularly in the Northern part of the country. Sadly, The activities of bandits have currently reached an all time high, with incessant kidnappings of students and politically exposed individuals for ransom and the destruction of lives and properties of helpless villagers. It is therefore not out of place for Nigerians to be interested in their tricks and activities.

    Recently, a message has gone viral on the social media in Nigeria, claiming bandits now wear cow-hooves padded sandals to deceive soldiers about their movements. The same pictures were shared without various captions by different individuals on social media.

    Screenshot of a version of the message (Let’s call this Version A)
    Screenshot of another image
    Screenshot of Version C

    Verification

    Dubawa did a reverse image search on Google and got a link to a message posted by ‘Speak out for Animals’, an organisation dedicated to the protection of wildlife and animals in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. The organisation is a group of “animal lawyers committed to combating wildlife crime, using the legal system”.

    ‘Speak out for Animals’  posted the images on Twitter on July 5, 2021 while a Twitter user, Kevin Piertersen posted a similar message, also on Twitter on July 3, 2021. Both messages indicate that the images were antelope hooves padded sandals wore by poachers to evade rangers, while Mr. Piertersen was particular about the fact that the sandals were worn by poachers caught in Kruger. Kruger is a town in South Africa.

    Screenshot of Kevin Pietersen’s Twitter post

    Screenshot of the message by ‘Speak out for Animals’

    Conclusion

    The animal hooves padded sandals shown in the social media messages are not those of cows, but antelopes, and the sandals are worn by poachers, not bandits operating in Nigeria’s Northern region.

  • How Rogue Photography is Used to Keep Southern Kaduna Tragedy Alive

    A Twitter user, Samson Adeyemi, recently posted four pictures purportedly depicting the victims of the latest attacks in Southern Kaduna and their aggressors.

    A screenshot of the tweet depicting purported photos of victims of the latest attacks in southern Kaduna. Source: Twitter/SAMSON ADEYEMI (@minesam_)

    Checks by Legit.ng through reverse image search show that two of the four photos posted have nothing to do with the Southern Kaduna killings. One of the other two photos appeared online earlier and does not show the latest killings.

    Full Text

    As emotions run high on social media over the latest killings in Southern Kaduna, a Twitter user, Samson Adeyemi, posted four pictures purportedly depicting the aggressors and victims of the attacks.

    Adeyemi with the Twitter handle @minesam_ on Saturday, July 25, posted the pictures with the caption, “Governor @elrufai  innocent souls are wasted in southern kaduna on a continuous basis and yet nothing is done.

    “I’m wondering how you are able to live in that state and conveniently call yourself a governor with all that is happening. End southern Kaduna killings.”

    Despite various efforts to restore peace, including deployment of military teams and regular imposition of curfew, killings in Kaduna State have continued unabated.

    On Sunday, July 19, armed men stormed communities in Kaura Local Government Area, one of the local councils in the state, and killed at least 16 people, according to Premium Times.

    Four days after, On July 23rd, The Punch reported that gunmen suspected to be Fulani militia invaded Agwala Magayaki of Doka Avong in Kajuru Local Government Area and killed seven persons, including an 85-year-old man. 

    Some residents were declared missing while several houses were razed during the attack, the newspaper notes.

    The latest spate of killings led to outrage on social media as “END SOUTHERN KADUNA KILLINGS” trend on Twitter on Saturday, July 25.

    The Twitter trend has generated over 3,000 tweets with several gory photos purportedly depicting the killings in the state as of Saturday, July 25.

    Four of such pictures were posted by Adeyemi on Twitter. As of Wednesday, August 5, when the tweet was seen, it has been shared over 400 times, with over 400 likes and several comments.

    Sharing old (gory) pictures/videos to represent the latest (violent) incident readily sets a stage for reprisal attacks, hence the need for a verification. 

    Verification

    Reverse image searches show that two of the photos posted by Adeyemi have nothing to do with the Southern Kaduna killings.

    The first picture shows fighters of the Islamist group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) sitting in the courtyard of the Islamist police station in Gao, Mali.

    The picture was taken on July 16, 2012 for AFP/GhettyImages by Issouf Sanogo and can be found in this 2012 BBC report and other places.

    The second picture shows villagers “look(ing) at bodies of victims of religious attacks lying in a mass grave in the Dogo Nahawa village, about 15 km (9 miles) to the capital city of Jos in central Nigeria, March 8, 2010.”

    It was taken by a REUTERS journalist, Akintunde Akinleye and can be found in this report by The New York Times in 2010.

    While Legit.ng could verify the immediate source of the remaining two photos via reverse image search, wayback machine, indicates one of them is not recent and does not show the latest violence, as it appeared online as far back as 2014 and can be found in this report.

    The specific origin of the other one, however, remains unknown at the time of filing this piece on Tuesday, August 4. If you know where and when it was taken, you can contact us here.

    Conclusion

    Based on the evidence gathered during verification, three of the photos posted by Adeyemi did not represent the latest killings in Southern Kaduna as his tweet claims. While two have nothing to do with killings in Southern Kaduna, the third has been on the internet as far back as 2014. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with LegitNG to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

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