Boko Haram

  • Fact-checking Twitter user’s claims that FG earmarked N380bn to Prosecute Terrorists, Gave ASUU N20bn

    Claim: A Twitter user claims ₦380 billion was earmarked in the 2021 Budget Proposal for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects.

    Claim: He also claimed that ASUU was given ₦20 billion to revitalize 90 public universities in Nigeria.

    Claim: The Twitter user further alleged, all in one tweet, that the gold deposits in Zamfara State belong to the state while the federal government controls the crude oil in the south-south.


    The claim that the federal government earmarked ₦380 billion for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in the 2021 budget proposal is false.

    The second claim that the federal government gave ASUU ₦20 billion to revitalize public universities is mostly true.

    However, the claim that Zamfara State controls its gold deposits is false.

    Full Text

    On Thursday, November 12, a Twitter user named Adeyinka Oluwadamilare (@aomadrey), claimed that ₦380 billion was earmarked in the 2021 budget proposal for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects.

    Oluwadamilare shared a picture indicating that he got the information from TVC News, a private television station in Lagos.

    The picture has a caption that reads: “Budget Defence: N380 billion projection for prosecution of Boko Haram suspects”.

    Photo credit: Adeyinka Oluwadamilare (Twitter/@aomadrey)

    Without citing any other sources, the Twitter user went ahead to make two other major claims, as he attempts to subtly argue the absurdity of budgeting such a huge amount of money for prosecution.

    He also claimed that the federal government gave the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ₦20 billion to revitalize public universities.

    Lastly, Oluwadamilare alleged that while the federal government controls the crude oil in the south-south, it allows Zamfara State to control its gold deposits, thereby implying an unfair treatment.

    The tweet reads:

    “N380 billion earmarked in the 2021 Budget for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects. We gave ASUU N20billion to revitalize 90 public universities in Nigeria. Psychological test on our ruling elites is key 

    “Zamfara control their gold but FG control crude oil in south south”

    Photo credit: Adeyinka Oluwadamilare (Twitter/@aomadrey)

    Verification

    Claim One: FG Earmarked ₦380 billion for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in the 2021 Budget Proposal 

    On Thursday, October 8, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 Budget Proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly. The proposed expenditure is put at ₦13.08 trillion.

    To verify the claim that ₦380 billion was earmarked for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, Legit.ng checked relevant documents from the portal of the Budget Office of the Federation.

    Since the budget is about prosecution, the appropriate section to check is that of the Ministry of Justice.

    According to the budget proposal, a sum of N20,277,824,795 (₦20 billion) was allocated to the Ministry of Justice for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure.

    For capital expenditure, the ministry got N5,747,771,298 (₦5.7 billion). Added together, the total amount allocated to the ministry is N26,025,596,093 (N26 billion).

    This means that the total amount earmarked for the Ministry of Justice is not even anywhere near ₦380 billion which was alleged to have been earmarked for just one item: prosecution of Boko Haram suspects.

    Checking the budget’s breakdown, Legit.ng notes some line items that have to do with prosecution. 

    In one of the items, ₦350 million was allocated for “prosecution of prison inmates and decongestion of correctional centres nationwide.”

    Others are prosecution of maritime/offshore offences (₦270 million) and prosecution of offenders/improving assets recovery and monitoring process (₦375 million).

    While none of these items directly specify the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, a further check by Legit.ng found out that the Ministry of Justice had disclosed the specific amount it earmarked to prosecute Boko Haram suspects while defending the budget before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Legal and Human Rights Matters.

    According to a report by Premium Times, the solicitor-general of the federation, Dayo Apata told the Senate committee that the ministry proposed ₦2 billion to cover its legal services for the 2021 fiscal year.

    The legal services include civil litigation, prison decongestion, trial and prosecution of Boko Haram criminals, administration of the criminal justice system and payment for international legal obligations, Apata disclosed.

    Out of the ₦2 billion, about ₦350 million was budgeted for the trial and prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, according to the solicitor-general. 

    Based on this shred of evidence, the claim that ₦380 billion was earmarked in the 2021 Budget Proposal for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects is false.

    Claim Two: ASUU was given ₦20 billion to revitalize 90 public universities in Nigeria

    In 2013, the Nigerian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ASUU to make available N1.3 trillion for the revitalisation of Nigeria’s public universities.

    It was agreed that the fund would be released in tranches of ₦200 billion in 2013, ₦220 billion 2014, ₦220 billion 2015, ₦220 billion in 2016, ₦220 billion in 2017 and ₦220 billion in 2018.

    While the ₦200 billion was released in 2013 as agreed, the government has failed to honour the agreement to pay the subsequent tranches which has led to several strike actions by ASUU.

    In September 2018, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved ₦20 billion for ASUU to revitalise public universities, a far cry from the ₦220 billion which was supposed to be paid in 2014 and the rest of the years as stipulated in the MoU.

    This was the only payment the federal government has made since the ₦200 billion paid in 2013, according to ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi.

    Meanwhile, ASUU is currently on another strike asking the government to pay half of one tranche, ₦110 billion, as part of the revitalisation fund, among other issues.

    The ₦20 billion released in 2018 is probably the one Oluwadamilare, the Twitter user, was referring to in his tweet. 

    Thus, the claim that the federal government, under the Buhari administration, has only released ₦20 billion to the universities is mostly true.

    Claim Three: Gold deposits in Zamfara State belong to Zamfara State while crude oil in the south-south belongs to FG

    This claim has been recurrent on Twitter for a while. It gained more prominence recently when the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, kicked against the recent sale of gold bars by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

    He claimed that the governor has no right to sell the mineral resources that belong to the federal government.

    Omo-Agege said:

    “Not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Mr. President, our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.”

    However, an earlier fact-check by Dubawa has found the claim to be false.

    According to the report, the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (2007) vests the ownership of all minerals, including gold, in the Federal Government, just as the Deputy Senate President noted.

    The Act vests control of all properties and minerals in Nigeria in the Federal Government and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.

    Thus, to mine gold in Zamfara or any other part of the country, a licence must be obtained from the Federal Government through the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the report further explained.

    However, contrary to Mr Omo-Agege’s claim, what Governor Matawalle did was partner with some investors to mine gold in the state and sell to the CBN.

    Simply put, Zamfara does not own the gold but actually purchased it from the licensed operators in the market and sold it to the apex bank.

    The claim that gold deposits in Zamfara state belong to the state government is false. The gold deposits in Zamfara and other states and the crude oil in the south-south belong to the federal government.

    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.  

  • Fact-checking attacks on Zulum and the misleading video in circulation

    A TWITTER user @von_Bismarck uploaded a video clip of a tense atmosphere, showing a face-off between two parties where some men are seen running out of the scene while cars move violently. Three of the men were seen with cameras while gunfire sound and wisp of smoke which rented the air are seen in the 23-seconds video clip. 

    However,  the poster claimed with the video clip that Babagana Zulum, Borno State governor, was under attack by Boko Haram insurgents. He advanced that the governor is being ambushed for the third time.

    The clip which had been viewed by 9,171 twitter users was liked by 133 users and retweeted 122 times before it was deleted.

    He wrote “Breaking: Zulum, governor of Borno comes under attack again by Boko Haram. 3rd time now. Some people want Zulum dead”

    In less than 2 hours, another twitter user with over 9,000 followers, @UMHmanga___, quoted and rebutted the claim on the ground that the incident in the video was not in Maiduguri and “this is not even Nigeria”

    Then we chose to fact-check. 

    CLAIMS

    1- That Babgana Zulum has been attacked three times by the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents

    2- That the attached video is not about Maiduguri  

    Findings on claim 1

    On July 29, Boko Haram operatives launched the first attack on Zulum together with his convoy while on his way to distribute food relief to IDPs in Baga. Though the attack was repelled by security operatives in the governor’s convoy, there were casualties on the side of his entourage.

    Baga town was displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents 21 months ago, with most of the residents taking refuge in Monguno and Maiduguri.

    On Friday 25th of September, the governor’s convoy was again attacked between Monguno and Baga areas of the state which left about 30 persons dead. 

    The Governor was in Baga between Friday and Sunday to supervise preparations for safe resettlements of Internally Displaced Persons at the commercial town which used to be strategic to Boko Haram’s commercial operations.

    Zulum said the resettlement became necessary since feeding the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have become financially unsustainable.

    However, for the third time, on Sunday morning, 27th of September, while returning to Maiduguri, Governor Zulum’s convoy was again attacked.  

    According to media reports, no one in the convoy was injured as security operatives deftly repelled the attack. Governor Zulum plied the Maiduguri-Baga route along with other government officials in charge of the resettlement of internally displaced persons.

    Verdict: 

    The above findings adjudge the claim. It is true that Babagana Zulum has been ambushed 3 times.  

    Findings on claim 2

    If the attached video is not about Maiduguri. So where does it come from?

    The ICIR conducted a deep search and realised that multiple Twitter accounts posted the same video on Twitter with captions about the attack on Governor Zulum. One of it is the popular GIDITraffic @Gidi_Traffic, an information hub with over 1.7 million followers on twitter. 

    The video posted by GIDITraffic, as at 12:29 am on Tuesday, September 29th has been viewed by over twenty thousand users, gathering 356 retweets 

    The ICIR, again, subjected video keyframes from the attached viral video to multiple reverse image search engines. 

    Google reverse image provided 4 results within 0.77 seconds. One of these results led to a Facebook post by King Fazul, a political page in Kenya, where the same video was posted on 18th January 2020 with a caption detailing an attack on Kenyans by state armed forces

    “Is this what we pay our forces to do?? Instead of fighting terror attacks in Garissa County, they are wasting their time fighting with innocent Kenyan people, Shame on you Mr above”  the caption reads.

    Further checks led The ICIR to a Youtube video uploaded by one Othaya GlobalNews to explain how leaders were tear-gassed in Mumias.

    Mumias is a town in Kakamega County of Kenya. The town has an urban population of 116,358. Mumias was the centre of the Mumias District. The town is linked by road to Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Butere. 

    On that same day, KTN News, a media platform under The Standard group, publisher of The Standard Newspaper, one of Kenya’s largest newspapers and the oldest newspaper in the country, posted the same video on its youtube channel in a report that lasted for three minutes and forty seconds.

    The report detailed how security operatives dispersed the crowd that gathered for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting in Mumias town at Bukhungu stadium, Kagamenga county.

    BBI is an initiative conceived by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader, Raila Odinga, in March 2018, to mark an end to months of post-election violence in the country.

    A critical look at the number plate of one of the cars, as seen in the video, does not also conform in any way with Nigerian’s vehicle number plate. It is of a black inscribed text on a white plate/background while Nigerian is known for a white background with the Nigerian map in green and letters and numbers in blue. 

    Verdict: 

    While it is TRUE that Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, has been ambushed three times by the Boko Haram insurgents, intensive checks by The ICIR shows that the video attached to the post is from Mumias, Kenya.

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

  • Horrid footage showing killing of naked woman is not from Nigeria

    In a viral video shared by a user on Twitter and other social media platforms, there is a claim that the gruesome killing of a certain woman was carried out in Nigeria by the Boko Haram Jihadist terrorist group.

    The claim that  the gruesome murder of a certain woman was carried out in Nigeria by members of the Boko Haram Jihadist terrorist group is false. Analysis carried out on the video using online tech tools and reports gathered from credible media, proved the scene took place in a small town in Mozambique, not in Nigeria. 

    Full Text

    Since the inception of Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria, one thing that has remained prevalent is the frequent news of terror. Though this is even predominant in the northeastern parts of the country, the headline to such news extends mostly to Nigeria as a whole and not just a part of it. Thus, it is easier to attribute such lingering terror stories to Nigeria whether or not it suits the narrative. 

    Such a story was shared on Twitter by @bestbiafra Bestbiafra in a video format. The video shows four armed men in chase of a terrified naked woman, beating her, and then killing her with at least 36 gunshots. The men in the picture wear what appears to be a military camouflage uniform.

    The gruesome video drew tons of reactions and comments from multiple Twitter users who shared diverse opinions. 4,800 views, 473 retweets, 49 comments, and over 215 likes. 

    In what appears to be the showcase of both despair and doubts towards the video, Blackfire @porschewillie, a user, argued that “First of all .. Let’s not judge this video by the content of what we see in it. We don’t know what the woman might have done Or who she is. We ain’t sure if those jiggy are actual soldiers So y’all should relax”.  However, another user, Martin C Chiaha @ChiaChukwuma who seem to subscribe with the video commented that: 

    “The worst atrocities in human history is going on in Nigeria under the watch & sponsorship of Nigerian government led terrorist #BokoHaram Bandits operate day & night killing #Christians & #Biafrans Enough is enough all we want is #BiafraExit @realDonaldTrump @UN @AngelaMerkeICDUtagging multiple prominent world leaders.

    Yet, what is even more alarming is the fact that such claims are enough to trigger panic in the society, plant fear in the hearts of many , and may even attract international sanctions. Given the potential of such a situation to cause anxiety, Dubawa opts to explore the veracity of this claim. 

    Verification

    Dubawa launched a probe of the video on InVid (video authenticity tool). The results traced the video to multiple reports from many news sites such as the globalandmail.com  with the headline ‘Video showing the death of a woman by men in military uniforms shocks Mozambique’  so also on straitstime.com “Mozambique army condemns ‘horrifying’ shooting of a naked woman at hands of fighters”

    Also, in a  recent BBC analytic report where the same video was analysed by BBC to uncover its source, the people involved, and the location revealed the event to have taken place in Mozambique. 

    Using the Google Earth technology, the location where the actual event took place in the video was traced to a small town called, Oasse in northern Mozambique, a region that is already under clash between the Al’shabab Jihadist group and the Mozambique armed forces. 

    Courtesy: BBC

    Though the woman is likely to be a refugee fleeing from the Oasse Village, David Matsinhe, a researcher with Amnesty International, confirmed that the armed men were wearing the Mozambique military uniforms, which is green and brown-lizard camouflage, black boots, tan web gear, and yellow-black shoulder tabs.

    Courtesy: BBC

    A typical Mozambique  military camouflage uniform with the same yellow-black shoulder tabs

    Furthermore, the men were heard in the video, telling the woman that she’s from Al Shabab with a typical southern Mozambique Portugese accent.  According to BBC, the Mozambique government has agreed to carry out an investigation over the matter, thus not disputing the fact that the event took place there in Mozambique.  

     Conclusion

    This video and the contents it portrays did not occur in Nigeria. Facts gathered confirmed the event to have taken place in Mozambique and the men are likely to be members of the Mozambique armed forces, not Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. Thus, this claim is false.

  • Analysis: An Assessment of the Claims On ‘Christian Genocide’ In Nigeria

    A Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has regularly released figures since 2018, which it says are evidence of an ongoing genocide against Christians by jihadists and jihadist herdsmen in the country. But an analysis of statistics from reliable sources shows that these claims are inaccurate.

    Over 1,200 Christians killed in 2020?

    In July, the Family Research Council, a “fundamentalist Protestant” activist group based in the United States, published a report titled, “The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria”,  authored by Lela Gilbert, Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom at the council.

    “A July 15, 2020 headline reports that 1,202 Nigerian Christians were killed in the first six months of 2020,” Gilbert wrote. 

    “This is in addition to 11,000 Christians who have been killed since June 2015. Such violence has reached a point at which expert observers and analysts are warning of a progressive genocide—a “slow-motion war” specifically targeting Christians across Africa’s largest and most economically powerful nation.”

    She added that reports about the assaults rarely made it to mainstream media outlets and  instead “generally found in publications sponsored by Christian organisations in their newsletters and websites”.

    The report was shared on August 4 by a Twitter account that appears to belong to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The tweet has since been retweeted nearly 6,000 times and liked by over 4,100 users.

    Gilbert has made two claims here; that over 1,200 Christians were killed between January and June this year due to extremism and political violence, and 11,000 were killed between 2015 and 2019.

    Verifying Gilbert’s claims

    The source of Gilbert’s first claim is a July report by The Christian Post (CP), an interdenominational news website based in the U.S., which in turn referenced a report released in July by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, an advocacy group based in Anambra State, Southwest Nigeria. The report was written by Emeka Umeagbalasi, a graduate of Criminology and Security Studies from the National Open University of Nigeria and described by CP as a Christian criminologist.

    Umeagbalasi said “no fewer than 1,202 defenceless Christians” were hacked to death in the first six months of 2020: including 812 by “Jihadist Fulani herdsmen” and 390 killed by Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), and other groups.

    “Between 1st Jan and 14th May 2020 when we did our last update, not less than 200 Christians were hacked to death by Boko Haram/ISWAP; and out of over 260 killed by the same Jihadist sect from 15th May to 30th June 2020, not less than 100 were strongly believed to be Christians,” he said.

    He added that “while 100% of victims of Jihadist Herdsmen killings are Christians, it is symmetrically 60%/40% or 50%/50% for Christians and Muslims killed in recent times by Jihadist Boko Haram/ISWAP”.

    “This is unlike in 2009 to 2017 when it was 80% Christian victims and 20% Muslim victims. In other words, Jihadist Herdsmen target and kill Christians only or burn or destroy their properties including dwelling houses, farmlands and worship and learning centres,” he said.

    He further claimed that all the areas attacked by “jihadist herdsmen” are Christian communities and there was no evidence showing that Muslims or their properties had been victims. “Ansaru Jihadists, on their part, strictly kill Christians including abducted foreigners while asymmetric Muslim deaths in their hands are seen as accidental occurring under exceptional situations,” he said.

    The group, Intersociety, said from July 2009 to 2020, 32,000 Christian lives had been lost: 15,000 deaths caused by herdsmen and 16,800 by Boko Haram and ISWAP.

    While the report did not provide references for its statistics, it occasionally cited a few news websites and said it obtained certain figures from groups such as the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, Adara Development Association, Tiv Youth Forum, Tiv Cultural and Social Association, “as well as other dependable sources”.

    “Attached below is a separate file containing ‘Statistical Sources’ of this research report,” Umeagbalasi wrote at the end of the report. But HumAngle could not find this document. A search through the group’s website yielded no result or additional information about the claims.

    Comparing with other sources

    Incidents of politically motivated violence in Nigeria, including acts of terrorism and banditry, are prominently catalogued by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council of Foreign Relations, and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). 

    NST is a project of the Council of Foreign Relations that collects data from multiple sources, especially press reports. ACLED, on the other hand, is an independent, non-profit based in the United States and acclaimed as the “most widely used real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest around the world”. It sources data from state authorities, news reports, humanitarian organisations, and research publications.

    Both data sets are detailed and provide sources for each entry, but generally do not indicate the religion of the aggressors and victims. There is, therefore, no evidence to corroborate the claim that a certain percentage of the casualties are either Muslim or Christian.

    The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law said that at least 1,202 Christians were killed between January and June 2020 by jihadists and Fulani herdsmen. The group also said between July 2009 and June 2020, 32,000 Christians lost their lives to the activities of these groups. But the figures are inconsistent with data from reliable sources.

    According to ACLED, which has gathered data dating back to 1997, between July 2009 and July 2020, 61,782 lives have been lost in total to various forms of violence, including attacks, armed clashes, battles, explosions, riots, and so on across the country. 

    Of this number, the civilian casualties number 33,058. And out of this figure, only 21,282 deaths were recorded to have been caused by jihadists, including the Boko Haram group, ISWAP, and Ansaru, as well as other groups described as Fulani ethnic militia (including herdsmen), Hausa ethnic militia, Muslim militia, Islamist militia, and other similar terms.

    Using this disaggregation, between January and June 2020, only 661 civilian deaths were recorded by ACLED to have been caused by these groups. This, in other words, means the total number of deaths caused by jihadists and herdsmen in the periods are significantly below the number of Christian deaths as claimed by the Anambra-based advocacy group.

    Verifying with data from the Security Tracker

    A similar trend is established by the security tracker, which covered events from May 2011 till date. It states that there have been a total of 72,092 deaths recorded in the period. As of June 2020, however, there were 25,360 civilian deathsㅡincluding from violent incidents that occurred outside Northern Nigeria. 

    The NST also provides data on the locations of attacks, ranging from government offices to schools, banks, mosques, and churches. The data shows that between 2011 and 2020, there have been 168 attacks of churches in the country and 118 attacks of mosques. However, while the number of casualties recorded in attacks against churches is 2,009, that of mosques is slightly more at 2,242.

    The figures don’t add up

    When we reached out to Umeagbalasi for the “statistical sources” of the group’s claims, he emailed a 24-page document (available here) titled Intersociety’s Statistical Data File Backing Our Reports On Massacre Of Christians In Nigeria and last updated on August 5. 

    It lists at least 107 violent attacks that took place between June 14 2019 and July 31 2020, citing sources that range from the Church of the Brethren (EYN) to the National Security Tracker, eyewitness accounts, one academic paper, and the Adara Development Association. 

    It also cited news websites such as Vanguard, The Sun, Ecocity News, Channels Television, This Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Global Sentinel, Daily Post, Christian Persecution, International, among others. Six of the items were, however, not attributed to any source.

    A study of the document revealed that it is not structured to prevent the repetition of death tolls; also the religion of victims of attacks are not always confirmed, as some reports contradict official statements about violent incidents, and others are not in reference to particular attacks but a set of past events.

    HumAngle’s breakdown (available here) further shows that, if all the casualties were summed up based on the report, there would have been 1,036 fatalities and 130 victims of abduction between June 2019 and July 2020.

    If the period is limited to the first six months of 2020, the people killed by terrorists and herdsmen numbered 786 while those abducted were 33. This falls short of what was claimed in its report where it said at least “1,202 defenceless Christians” were killed between January and June. 

    ‘Our reports are forensic’ ㅡ Intersociety

    In an interview with HumAngle on Thursday, however, Intersociety insisted it did not exaggerate its reports.  

    “That is why we have been doing it monthly or bimonthly, and we have our people on the ground, especially from the troubled areas. Our reports have been forensic,” the group’s Board Chairman, Umeagbalasi, said.

    He explained that the group’s  investigations sometimes contradicted claims from the police about the nature of violent attacks and number of people killed. It concluded that certain attacks were targeted at Christians by non-Christians and that it  raised questions the police were unable to answer and using circumstantial evidence.

    “Our organisation is a widely quoted organisation anywhere in the world with respect to the killing of Christians in Nigeria. As the head of the organisation who has been in the field of activism for over 25 years, I am also a trained criminologist and graduate of security studies. It gives me an edge on how to investigate,” Umeagbalasi said.

    “We don’t just say things; we follow things systematically…  You know what it means for an organisation to earn international credibility. You must have been monitored over time and all that,” he said.

    He added that Intersociety was the only organisation in the country with a “very wide and extensive network with respect to those killings”, and no government agency has challenged its work.  

    Misquoting the GTI

    According to Umeagbalasi, in a separate piece published by Genocide Watch in April, the 2019 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) stated that “2,040 Christians were killed by radicalised Fulani militants in Nigeria in 2018 alone”. 

    A look through the document, however, shows that no such quote is contained in it. The word “Christian” appears only once, on page 92, in the sentence: “Tensions between the Fulani, majority  of whom are Muslim, and farmers, of whom the majority in Nigeria for example are Christian, is largely driven by economic causes and low levels of Positive Peace.”

    The report noted population increases, resource scarcity, and desertification as the causes of the conflict between the two groups, not religious differences, which had existed long before the interactions became strained.

    Also, the Global Terrorism Index report did not say 2,040 Christians were killed in 2018 by Fulani militants as claimed but gave this figure as the total number of deaths as a result of terrorism that year. This included killings caused by Fulani extremists, Boko Haram fighters, as well as other armed groups. Also, data captured by the GTI report did not specifically address non-Christian killings. 

    Asked about this discrepancy, Umeagbalasi simply said his organisation “has taken ownership” of the statistics.

    Are herdsmen killing only Christians?

    According to Umeagbalasi, everyone killed and abducted by Fulani herdsmen were Christians. “100 percent of their victims are Christians, Christian learning centres, and Christian worship centres,” he told HumAngle, emphasising a much-repeated claim in his reports.

    “They took a stance that no (killing of) Muslims, it is Christians entirely. Those we have come across as victims of Fulani herdsmen killing were all Christians. No single Muslim.”

    Dr Kabir Adamu, a security consultant and Managing Director of Beacon Consulting, however, said this was not true as far as figures available to him showed.

    “The targeting is not done based on an ideological, ethnic, or even social behaviours… The victims are targeted because of where they reside and as a result of whatever anger is driving the attackers, but not because of their religious affiliation,” he said.

    He explained that in a place like Zamfara, most of the victims (99 percent) were  (Hausa and, sometimes, Fulani) Muslimsㅡ”for the simple reason that majority of the residents in the two states a Muslim and it makes sense that the victims would be Muslims”.

    “However, if you move farther out into Kaduna and Niger States, as an example, where there is a 50:50 variation in the population of Muslims and Christians, then you would say perhaps the victims too would cut across that proportion,” he added.

    He  said he did not think any organisation had  gathered enough data to analyse victims of terrorism and banditry on the basis of faith.

    “It would not be scientific to come to that kind of conclusion. To come to that kind of conclusion, it means you have identified, documented all the victims and, through your analysis, you are able to know their religion, and I doubt anyone has been able to do that,” Adamu concluded.

    Speaking to Punch Newspaper last year, Hassan Dantawaye, who led a group of herdsmen-bandits in Zamfara before renouncing violence, had said they were pushed into crime due to an increasing trend of unaddressed cattle rustling which rendered many of them unemployed.

    ‘The conflict is not that straight-forward’

    Christian news websites such as Catholic CultureChristian PersecutionChristian Post, and so on often present violent events in Nigeria’s northern region as being driven by religious motives, but analysts say it is not that simple. 

    John Campbell, a Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, observed that linking tragedies in Nigeria to a “perceived global trend of violence against Christians” mischaracterised the nature of the conflicts and overlooked important nuances.

    “Christians are certainly murdered in Nigeria, and in some cases, they are murdered because they are Christian. But, despite Boko Haram’s murderous hostility to Christians, most of its victims have always been Muslim, not least because the insurgency takes place in a predominantly Muslim part of the country,” he said. 

    “For what it is worth, data from the NST shows a decline in Boko Haram attacks on churches and an increase in attacks on mosques over time. Indeed, the smaller number of Christian deaths at the hands of Boko Haram likely reflects the fact that most of them have fled.”

    He concluded that “violence may fall along ethnic and religious lines, but it is not necessarily driven by those distinctions”.

    An influential Catholic bishop, Matthew Kukah, agreed in August that Christians are not the only targets of extremists in the country. “[T]hese killings are not to be narrowed down to Christians because they have been far worse in the predominantly Muslim north in such states as Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara,” he explained.

    Bulama Bukarti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, has also confirmed that Muslims living in the north were unmistakably more at the receiving end of Boko Haram’s activities. “Make no mistake, Boko Haram has by far killed more Muslims than Christians and every Nigerian in the northeast requires protection,” he said in April, adding that in areas where ISWAP is more active, Christians were “at higher risk and deserve more security”. 

    Based on publicly available evidence and expert analyses, therefore, some of the sweeping claims made by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law are inaccurate. While it is clear that Nigerians of various backgrounds have been victimised to varying degrees by raging insecurity, it will be impossible using existing records to say precisely how many members of each group have paid the supreme price.

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

  • Did Abdulwahab, an ex-Boko Haram insurgent, say he killed many Christians?

    An online news medium “ecocitynews” on August 2, 2020 published a story in which a Boko Haram insurgent, Abdulwahab Usman, was reported to have confessed to killing many Christians.

    The headline of the story claiming that Usman, an ex-Boko Haram member, confessed to killing many Christians is misleading.

    Full text

    An online news medium Ecocity News on August 2, 2020 published a story wherein a Boko Haram member, Abdulwahab Usman, was reported to have confessed to killing many Christians. Another platform also published the story with the same headline.

    Screenshot of the headline and accompanying photo

    In July, about 602 repentant Boko Haram members graduated from the Federal Government’s  de-radicalization program, otherwise dubbed Operation Safe Corridor.

    The Punch newspaper published a feature on one of the rehabilitated Boko Haram members, Abdulwahab Usman. who admitted that he had killed many people. He, however, did not specify the victim’s ethnicity or religion.

    Reproducing the news, an online medium “ecocitynews” on August, 2, published a version of the story with the headline “I have killed many Christians to the extend, I can’t remember the lives I have wasted – Freed Boko Haram member said.”

    The ecocitynews attributed the source of the story to Punch newspaper. 

    Being a religiously diverse country, unguided utterances and misinformation such as this has   

    in the past resulted in religious violence and claimed lives, hence the need for a verification.

    Verification

    Going through the report from Punch, it was noted that Usman indeed submitted that he had killed many people, however, he did not specify the religion of his victims.

    “I was forced into the group for about five years.  I can’t remember the number of people I killed as a Boko Haram member because they are many,”  Usman was quoted as saying by Punch.

    A closer look at the Ecocity News version shows that the headline of the story, which claimed that Usman had killed many Christians, did not align logically with the body of the story.  So while the headline suggests the killing of Christains, Usman, never mentioned any of his victim’s religion all through the story.

    From all indications, Ecocity News culled the story from Punch and gave it its own misleading  headline.

    Conclusion

    While Abdulwahab Usman, a de-radicalised Boko Haram insurgent, admitted to killing many people, he did not say he killed Christians. The headline of the story by Ecocity News is misleading.

  • Is there evidence for Governor Masari’s claim that political enemies of APC are sponsors of Boko Haram ?

    The Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, recently claimed that enemies of the All Progressives Party (APC), the ruling party in Nigeria, are sponsoring Boko Haram terror attacks in Northern Nigeria so that they could be voted into power in the 2023 elections. 

    A fact-check of this claim has shown there is no evidence that the terrorist groups rely on funding from politicians or political parties. The allegation made by the governor is, at best, politically motivated and with no evidence to support it.

    Full Text 

    On July 20, Governor Masari was reported to have claimed that Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency in the North West is receiving sponsorship from enemies of his party, APC. 

    He said, “Most of the bandits and Boko Haram attacks facing the Northern part of the country are sponsored by some politicians who are enemies of the present APC government at both federal and state,” he said. 

    “During the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, there were multiple bombs in Maiduguri, Kano, and even Abuja.

    “The Kano bombing then killed more than 500 people. Mosques, churches and roads were closed due to insecurity but today, God has prevented us from such insecurity but we have forgotten.

    “Today, politicians who are willing or intending to contest 2023 elections are sponsoring banditry because the way the bandits mastered how to operate guns and by how they specialised in ambushing soldiers, we should know that there is someone behind it.

    “They are saying we dislodged the PDP administration because of insecurity, so they want to make use of insecurity to also send APC away, which is why all APC should be vigilant.”

    Similar Claims Against APC in 2014 

    In 2014, an Australian member of parliament, Franz Obermays, claimed that leading figures of APC are “always associated with radical Islam and its terrorists groups”

    Mr. Obermays, according to a report by The Cable, named states under the APC in the North East and accused them of financing terror. 

    In 2014, another member of UK parliament also called for an inquiry into the relationship between members of APC and Boko Haram. 

    Rumours and allegations against Ali Modu Sheriff, former governor of Borno State, over financing Boko Haram was spread widely between 2014-2015. 

    Before May 2015, the APC operated as an opposition party to the PDP which Mr Sheriff served as Acting Chairman of National Working Committee.

    Boko Haram is Against All Politicians 

    All factions of Boko Haram are hostile to democracy and are intolerant to any form of political participation or affiliations. 

    In several videos released by the Jama’atu Ahlussunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad, the notorious leader of the Boko Haram faction, Abubakar Shekau, was heard describing democracy as “taghut”- an Arabic word for “ungodly” or “satanic”. 

    In a rebuttal against the late Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, a popular and charismatic religious leader in Northern Nigeria, Shekau said all forms of political participation are satanic and members of political parties are infidels. 

    “Like other Salafi-jihadi groups, Boko Haram rejects every system perceived to have originated from a Judaeo-Christian Europe, from Western-style education to secular government to democracy,” wrote Audu Bulama Bukarti, analyst with Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. 

    “The group brands democracy as taghut (an idol worshipped other than Allah) and treats Muslims who participate in elections and electioneering activities as infidels. 

    “It treats every person who takes part in democracy by casting ballots or vying for elective posts as a viable target. The group justifies attacking Muslims by citing their participation in democratic elections. 

    “For example, in claiming responsibility for a January 2017 mosque bombing that killed a professor and three others, a factional leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, said it carried out the attack because the university was mixing “Islam with democracy”.

    How Boko Haram is Funded 

    In 2018, a UN report identified extortion, charitable donations from members, smuggling and kidnappings as part of the ways the terrorist group is funded. 

    “The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping,” the report says. 

    “In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment,” the report added. 

    Recently, five aid workers were killed when the ISWAP faction of Boko Haram failed to receive ransom money from either the government or their employers. 

    Conclusion 

    The claim that enemies of APC, opposition parties, are sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria fails the test of verification, with no evidence to support it. 

    The claim is false, falling in the genre of political propaganda aimed at discrediting the opposition, just as a similar allegation was made against the APC in 2014. 

    The doctrines of Boko Haram do not allow members to participate, collaborate, or work with any member of political parties as they consider any form of democracy ungodly. Besides, overwhelming evidence points to the fact that Boko Haram gets its funding through robberies, kidnappings, extortions and donations from its members. 

  • FACT-CHECK: Is APC luring Abubakar Shekau with vice presidential ticket?

    On July 25th, a Twitter account with the handle @AustinNwabufo  and profile name Austin Nwabufo, claimed that Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) is luring Abubakar Shekau with a vice-presidential ticket as a way of ending the insurgency.

    A fact check shows that the claim that the APC is luring Abubakar Shekau with Vice Presidential ticket is FALSE.

    THE CLAIM

    On July 25th, a Twitter account with the handle @AustinNwabufo  and profile name Austin Nwabufo, claimed that Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) is luring Abubakar Shekau with a vice-presidential ticket as a way of ending the insurgency.

    The tweet reads “APC luring Abubakar SHEKAU with Vice Presidential Ticket as an inducement to end Boko-Haram War, details coming up later in the day, Keep tuned”

    The claim is that APC is luring Abubakar Shekau with Vice Presidential ticket.

    Shekau is known as the leader of Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant group that has plagued the North-East region of the country for over 10 years leading to thousands of deaths and millions of Internally Displaced Persons.

    The tweet made at 6:39 am by Nwabufo whose profile states that he is a lawyer has garnered  575 retweets and 855 as at press time.

    The tweet
    The tweet Source: ICIR

    THE FINDINGS

    Nwabufo did not respond to The ICIR request for comment. He, however, blocked the Twitter handle of the reporter.

    Yekini Nabena, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, asked for the claim to be sent to him via WhatsApp which he read and made no comment.

    When contacted by The ICIR, Mamman Muhammed, a spokesperson for the Chairman of  APC  National Caretaker Committee, Mai Bala Buni, said: “I am not in for this junk”. He ended the call and did not pick subsequent calls.

    Murtala Abdullahi, a journalist covering security who spent three years of his career reporting the north-east insurgency told The ICIR that Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it “haram” (forbidden) for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with the western society.

    Abdullahi said “Shekau does not believe in a democratic system and as a terrorist, he has been declared wanted by the Nigerian government and the US government. So, there’s no how, I mean totally impossible for one to think or fabricate something like this.”

    Timothy Avele, the Director-General of International Center for Non-verbal intelligence studies (ICNIS), stated that “Government can negotiate with terrorists but must be from a stronger position. Do you remember the number of times bounty has been placed on Shekau’s head?”

    He added that “the claim from the lawyer is weak and can not be true.”

    Kabir Adamu Ada, the Managing Director of Beacon Consulting, a security and intelligence outfit told The ICIR that “it will be suicidal if that should happen and I do not think that will happen”.

    Kabir further explained that  Shekau is a globally wanted terrorist. He said, “the US has 7 million dollars bounty on his head and that is an internationally recognised bounty given the power of the US.”

    He added that “I can not envisage a situation where the Nigerian government will enter such a negotiation.”

    Adamu stated aside from the US bounty on Shekau, the Nigerian government also has one on him too.

    “So to translate from a wanted terrorist to a likely VP candidate is laughable and I see it as a product of political skimming aims at discrediting the APC. This one of the fake news that will likely fly around before 2023 election,” Kabir added.

    A security officer in the Nigerian intelligence service also confirmed that the Boko Haram leader ordered the execution of the humanitarian workers in Borno recently because the government refused to negotiate with the insurgents who were asking for $1 million as ransom.

    THE VERDICT

    From the information presented above the claim that the APC is luring Abubakar Shekau with Vice Presidential ticket FALSE.

  • Can the Body Language of a Subject Define Truth in Communication?

    The Military revealed that Boko Haram leader, Shekau says he’s ready to surrender- The Daily Times reports.

    As it is, this claim is no more than a rumour; it projects a case of a sensational headline in which the message in the caption differs from what the body of the text conveys. This is a classic definition of fake news. 

    Full Text 

    On April 21, under the banner headlines, “Boko Haram leader Shekau says he’s ready to surrender-Military,”   The Daily Times reported of Abubakar Shekau, leader of the notorious Islamic sect – Boko Hara’s – alleged willingness to surrender. The report credits Major General John Enenche of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), as the source of its story. 

    Boko Haram is responsible for many attacks in Nigeria, especially in the north.  Recently, on the 21st of April, the Defence Headquarters informed the public of an airstrike on the terrorist group at their base in Borno state. Lafiya Dole, the frontline operational theatre in the campaign against the insurgents, reportedly destroyed the compound housing the terrorists in Sambisa Forest, Borno.

    Before the operation, there has been news of surrender from some members of the sect. According to the military, ‘Abubakar has been making frantic efforts to seek a soft landing as he prepares to surrender.’  Nigerians have also been speaking loudly, advising the military on how to manage the presumed surrender. Fani Kayode, an opposition politician and one-time Minister of Aviation, is one of those who have so advised the federal government on what to do if he surrenders.

    Since the Daily Times published the report on the same day of the ambush; it lends basis to believe that it was the event that inspired the publication. The critical question, however, is whether Shekau made those comments about his readiness to surrender.  Let’s find out.

    Apparent Disconnect

    The first striking thing about the story is the organisational structure and the apparent disconnect. While the headline of the publication suggests a statement made by Shekau- ‘he is ready to surrender’, the body of the text made inferences riddled with speculations- ‘Shekau May soon surrender’. Therefore, Dubawa recognises a case of a misleading headline, one of the strategies employed by fake-news purveyors.

    The disconnect between headlines and body text is an essential strategy of purveyors of misinformation who struggle to cover their trails by omitting dates, regardless of the importance of periods to ascertain a story’s authenticity.  Case in point, this author mentioned a press briefing at Abuja, without giving the date of the conference.

    Convoluted Headlining Amid Zero Corroboration

    Further research revealed a similar report in the Daily Post which rests its claims also on speculation. In this instance, however, it elucidates the phrase, “may surrender soon”. The news platform claimed that the General made the statement upon reading the terrorist’s ‘body language’ and from any verbal statement he made. In other words, the report resorted to an assumption as a basis for authenticating a report. 

    Also, the total absence of resonance from any credible news platform adds further scepticism to this claim; especially when you consider that this was to be a major story. If it were factual, it would capture the imagination of Nigerians, the sub-region and the international community. The fight against Boko Haram which entered its second decade this year is considered one of the most important security challenges in Africa today.

  • Did the Presidency Win the War Against Boko Haram?

    President Buhari said his Government has succeeded in winning the war against Boko Haram terrorists.

    Evidence from local news platforms and international rankings say otherwise. Reports from 2017 till date tell a sordid tale regarding insurgency in Nigeria. 

    Full Text

    Last week Thursday, President Buhari claimed his administration restored Nigeria’s pride and honour. He said this during the commissioning of three attack helicopters at Eagle square. The “restoration…” was premised on the President fulfilling his promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency. Platforms such as  Premium Times, The Nation, News Nigeria have published this report.

    “You will agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour in the world over”

    President Buhari

    Likewise, the President’s spokesman in an interview with channels television also commented on the reduction in insecurity. He based his assertion on a 2015 comparison. He further stated that Nigerians should be grateful for it.

    Is this the case?

    In 2015, President Buhari appointed these service chiefs after his first successful election. Under military regulations, their terms of service expired in 2017.

    Premium Times reported how members of the Nigerian House of Representatives, called for the removal of service chiefs. This call was made in a bid to find a solution to the uprising of insecurity in the country,

    A call for the removal deemed necessary to them to subdue the security/insecurities threat posed at the country.

    Insecurity on the rise despite the president’s claims

    Insecurity since President Buhari’s inauguration has not gotten better as claimed… it’s been on the rise. Several reports have revealed that the attacks have not subsided.

    In 2018, we recall when Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi in Yobe state. Then, the terrorists released some of the girls after weeks after negotiation with the federal government. Still, five girls died in captivity according to reports. Also, one girl remained in their custody.

    That same year, reports stated how the sect kidnapped aid workers with the International Committee of Red Cross. Not to mention, the melee attack the group orchestrated that claimed the lives of 70 soldiers.

    Last year, Boko Haram killed 11  people in the suburb area of Maiduguri. The group followed that attack, with a mass slaughter at a funeral procession in Maiduguri, leaving 60 dead.

    Still in the year 2019, Boko Haram ambushed a military base, killing 20 officers and one army commander.

    As at September 2019, a report by CNN gives the total number of missing Nigerians since Boko Haram started as 22,000.

    Still, this year, January, there are still reports of homicide from the sect. The group reportedly killed a 22-year old student in Plateau and beheaded a clergy in Adamawa who refused Islamic conversion. Matter of fact, the documented report of people who lost their lives to violence in Nigeria, this year, is a total of  245, amidst other reports.

    International Rankings

    The World Economic Forum released its ranking of the most dangerous countries to live in based on safety and security through a report published by the Independent UK  in 2017. Nigeria ranked number five on this list.

    Agnes Callamard, U.N special rapporteur on extrajudicial in a press conference gave her findings in Nigeria.  She says that Nigerian insecurity requires urgent attention.

    She referred to Nigeria as a “pressure cooker of internal conflict”, saying the situation is one of utmost concern, which if not tackled can affect other African nations.

    “the police and military had shown an excessive use of lethal force across the West African country which, combined with a lack of effective investigations and meaningful prosecution, caused a lack of accountability”

    Agnes Callamard

    To put things into perspective, Nigeria is amongst the most dangerous places to live. This is per Human rights watch’s, Expat insider survey of 2019. 

  • Buhari’s claim that Boko Haram ‘not holding any territory’ in Nigeria exaggerated

    Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari claimed recently that militant Islamist group Boko Haram have been driven into “fall-back positions” and are “currently not holding any territory” in the country.

    Read More »

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