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Viral video of soldiers flogging suspected bandits filmed in Zamfara, not along the Ife-Ibadan road

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Claim: a viral video making rounds on social media claims that soldiers have arrested and flogged ‘Fulani herdsmen kidnappers’ along the Ife-Ibadan road. 

The claim

The claim that soldiers have arrested and flogged ‘Fulani herdsmen kidnappers’ along the Ife-Ibadan road is misleading. The event actually took place back in 2019 and happened at Shinkafi local government area of Zamfara State and not along the Ife-Ibadan road.  

Full text

Insecurity in Nigeria has become a major discourse in both the public sphere and media circle. Since 2009, security has not only taken a considerable part of the nation’s financial budget but has also taken a chunk of newspaper headlines. This reality has, however, placed security matters in the spotlight, alluring massive traction anytime anything related to security is shared. A good example is a video circulating on social media which claims that soldiers have arrested ‘Fulani herdsmen kidnappers’ along the Ife-Ibadan road. Not only that, the video depicted men in Nigerian military gear engrossed with the flogging of some shirtless persons whom the video alleged to be suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnappers arrested by soldiers of the Nigerian army. 

The video is collaged alongside a narrative that states, “Fulani herdsmen arrested by soldiers along Ife-Ibadan road. The soldiers posed as passengers in a commercial vehicle from where they caught them in their operation. They left their cattle in the bush. Nemesis will still catch up with many more of them. ” 

The claim has appeared on YouTube, January, 21st 2021, and attracted more than 1000 views; with comments that neither showed doubts nor skepticism towards the story the video has depicted. 

The YouTube version of The collage video with the narrative written on the blue background

The video has also been forwarded multiple times on WhatsApp across different groups and forums and though it did not offer a specific time period as to when the event actually took place, its recent appearance on the social media space appears to pose it as a fresh occurrence. 

The WhatsApp version of The collage video with the narrative written on the blue background

The sensitivity of security matters and information has been a considerable causal factor of unrest in society, especially when it is presented in a visual format, such as the claim at hand.  Even more, the claim may also have lethal implications, considering the ongoing debate regarding the presence of herdsmen in the southern part of Nigeria and the recent reports of herdsmen attacks in Osun. Summatively, this may end up crumbling the fragile security structure of those areas. Sequel to this circumstance, DUBAWA opted to establish the fact about this claim, especially to determine when and where it actually took place. 

Verification 

Before anything else, DUBAWA traced another version of the video with a slightly different narrative that was shared on YouTube on 26th June 2019. The chronicle attached to this version outlines: “Little can be said about the menace caused by  herdsmen in the country for a while in the country. These herdsmen were cautioned by officers of The Nigerian Armed Forces for grazing on farmlands. What’s your take on this?  Yay or nah”. 

While the other narrative professes that the acclaimed herdsmen were captured by the soldiers for kidnapping and gave the story a flair of recency, the other one suggests it was because of grazing on the farmland back in 2019.  This apparent contradiction even raises questions around the actual time the incident took place.

Another version of the video YouTube with a slightly different narrative uploaded on 26th June 2019

Nonetheless, DUBAWA uncovered that the incident actually happened in 2019.  However, the major distinction is that it happened in Shinkafi Local Government Area (LGA) in Zamfara State and not along the Ife-Ibadan road as the claim purported. 

Interestingly, it turned out that the  Nigerian Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, had condemned the action back in 2019 in a statement he released to the press. He clearly stated that “The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to a video and some pictures circulating on some social media and online platforms showing some military personnel flogging suspected armed bandits at Shinkafi Local Government Area (LGA) in Zamfara State. The NAF has discovered that some of its personnel were part of the joint team stationed at the Galadi Sub-Sector at the time. The NAF wishes to state unequivocally that the troops’ actions of flogging and physically assaulting the disarmed suspects were totally unacceptable and not in consonance with the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) guiding the conduct of the operation.” 

The statement of the NAF spokesperson was also widely reported on major media outlets. 

Further shreds of evidence from the acclaimed video also confirm the incident happened somewhere in the northwest because, at 1:59 timing of the video one of the soldiers said “we are not only SHARAN DAJI we are operation 777, regardless.” The operation SHARAN DAJI or 777 is a unit of the Nigerian army that was set up in 2015 to respond to the crises of banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping in the northwestern part of Nigeria with a primary focus on Zamfara. 

Tolu Ogunlesi, the Special Assistant to President Buhari on Digital and New Media, had in 2019, around the time of the incident confirmed that the SHARAN DAJI is primarily stationed in the northwest.  This implies that the incident did not happen along the Ife-Ibadan road as claimed,  because the particular army unit is not functional and stationed there.  

Tolu’s Twitter post on OPERATION SHARAN DAJI

Conclusion 

Although the acclaimed incident actually took place, the real narrative regarding where and when it took place was slanted to forge a rather misleading story around the video. Thus this claim is misleading because the event happened in   Shinkafi, Zamfara State, and not along the Ife-Ibadan road. 

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