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Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

Claim: A TikTok account Okey Dubai (@okeydubai1), shared a video of a building on fire that is alleged to be the Central Bank of Nigeria branch in Benin, Edo State.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

Verdict: The fire incident occurred at Next Cash and Carry complex in Abuja back in 2021, not the CBN branch building in Benin, Edo State. The claim is false.

Full Text

On Wednesday, February 8, amid the naira scarcity that has stretched many Nigerians thin, a TikTok account Okey Dubai (@okeydubai1), shared a video of a fire burning from a building with a thick pillar of smoke as passersby wailed at the situation. The TikToker alleged that the incident was happening live at the Central Bank Branch in Benin State. In the clip, a voice behind the camera could be heard mourning the hopeless situation. 

The video was captioned alongside the statement: 

“Central Bank of Nigeria, Benin on fire. It’s happening live today. 8/2/2023.”

Hours after the video was shared, it went viral. As of the time of writing this report, it has had 14,000 shares with over 17,000 likes. This is understandable as news about the apex bank, naira designs, bank transfers, and cash have been trending lately since the CBN announced the phasing out old N1000, N500, and N200 notes.

The problem of naira scarcity began after people had deposited their cash in line with the first January 31 deadline, only to be told it had been extended, making many scrambles for whatever new notes were in circulation. 

The time sensitivity of the video stirred massive reactions from people on TikTok. While some people felt it was accurate information and bashed CBN for the scarcity of naira, others point out that the video was from another event unconnected with the apex bank branch in 

A TikToker, Hauwa (@hauwaidris33), argued that the location was not in Benin city but in Abuja:

“This one is next cash and carry Abuja, not Benin.”

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

Those who countered the video were lost in the din of people who ran with it as the false description fitted their sentiments.

User (@user9249885215630) = believed the fire was an act of revolt against the cashless policy of the apex bank:

“It’s wartime. Let them know CBN. ABUJA IS NEXT.”

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

On the other hand, @Splash had a comical and subtle reaction that pointed to the cash scarcity in the country. The TikToker said:

“Make person no burn my money o.”

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

Timeline of issues surrounding the redesign of N1000, N500, and N200 notes

  • CBN gave Tuesday, January 31, 2023, as the deadline for swapping old N1000, N500, and N200 notes for the newly designed ones.
  • Governors sued CBN and got a Supreme Court order to continue using old naira notes beyond Friday, February 10, 2023.

Claims as such have the potential to trigger nationwide crises based on the hardship Nigerians are passing through due to naira scarcity.

Verification

To track the earliest appearance of the alleged video online, DUBAWA employed the InVID video verification tool. Frames of the footage were collected, and a Google reverse image was conducted on some of them. The analysis results reveal the video was first shared by a YouTube page, My Wisdom TV – Divine Grace. This version was shared in 2019 without the layered words on the TikTok version. It had the same wailing voice, “Oh my God!” as in the TikTok video, but the narrative was entirely different. 

The YouTube version, apparently the original version, captioned the video: “Next cash and carry owned by Peter Obi is on fire, trending in Abuja,” showing moments the Next Cash and Carry complex was ravaged by fire in 2021, Abuja. 

Below are screenshots that show similarities in both videos. Note that what separates the original from the fake are the imposed words.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
A collage of screenshots. Fake (left). Original (right).

Google Search was also used to find similar videos of the fire incident online. Using the keywords “next cash and carry fire,” the result brought up many news items and YouTube videos of the fire. Following a Channels TV News YouTube link, a similar video popped up. Many elements of similarities, like the Next Cash and Carry sign, were noticeable in the video.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
A screenshot of ChannelsTV report on the fire that ravaged the Next Cash and Carry store in Abuja.

Several other news platforms like the Vanguard, People’s Gazette, and BBC News reported that the event occurred in Abuja and was at Next Cash and Carry building.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
A screenshot of a Vanguard report.
Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
A screenshot of BBC pidgin report.

Google Maps was also employed to pick out similar elements in the video and compare them to the satellite view of the event scene. The result revealed that the moving vehicle shooting the video was on Ahmadu Bellow Way opposite the Next Cash and Carry building. 

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
(A satellite area view of the road leading to Next Cash and Carry).

Below is another screenshot that captured the road network around the mall. A similar roundabout, as seen in the video, is circled in red:

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false

A collage screenshot of the alleged video and the satellite image shows they both had a fence beside the road leading to the scene, which was identified as Ahmadu Bello Way.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
Screenshots showing the fence.

Google geo-location further revealed the billboard that was at the junction. Despite the fact that they both have different banners, the placement and structure of the billboard remained the same.

Viral TikTok video claiming CBN’s Benin branch on fire false
A collage of screenshots taken from the video and Google Maps.

While the claimant alleged that the Benin CBN fire took place on February 8, 2022, the original video version said otherwise and was shared in 2021. 

Conclusion

The alleged video used by a TiKtok user to depict a recent fire outbreak at the CBN branch in Benin, Edo state, is false. The video depicts moments when the Next Cash and Carry shopping complex was ravaged by a fire incident in Abuja in 2021.

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