Fact CheckMainstream

WhatsApp video falsely depicts Nigerian soldiers burning young men alive in Imo

Claim: Nigerian soldiers burn young men alive in Orsu, Ihiteukwa, in Imo State.

Verdict: FALSE. Our findings show that the event captured in the video happened in Mozambique, contrary to the narrative that it took place in Orsu, Imo State. 

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Amid the increasing fear of insecurity in Nigeria, a video of soldiers burning a heap of things and throwing in bodies recently went viral on WhatsApp groups. The 20 seconds video shows the soldiers were also taking video of the act with their mobile phones. 

The video, which was first seen on a WhatsApp group on Thursday, January 19, 2023, was captioned, “Today Wednesday, 28th of January, 2023, at Orsu Ihiteukwa in Orsu LGA, Imo State Nigeria; soldiers burning young men alive. Please, let this go as far as you can spread. This is the climax of lawlessness and constitutional abuse of human rights to justice and fair hearing.”

The caption, which described the act as the height of extra judicial execution of alleged criminal suspects in Nigeria, urged people to spread the information to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Screenshots of the video were shared on WhatsApp with varying dates.

Due to the virality, and the sensitive nature of the video, especially at a time which coincides with the anniversary of the Nigerian civil war and upcoming general elections, DUBAWA considered it a responsibility to verify. 


Our first observation was that the video was circulated on different January dates. A version asserted that this occurred on January 28, 2023, a future date far from when the video was shared. 

A keyword search of the video on YouTube showed that the video did not originate from Nigeria. We found a two-minute, 57-second video on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel on January 13, 2023. This video garnered over 44,000 views on the same day. 

The video description noted this was a regional force fighting armed groups in Mozambique. We also noticed that the video was recorded in November 2022.

Watching the video, we saw that the narrator, identified as Tigere Chagutah, from Amnesty International, said the video shows human rights violations are still occurring in the Mozambique conflict, which started in 2017. 

The tag on one of the soldiers in the video identified him as a South African military personnel.

Screenshot of the video found on Al Jazeera’s YouTube page. 

Furthermore, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation also reported on January 12, 2023,  that an investigation into the matter had been launched by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a body responsible for the troop deployment to Mozambique. An analysis by another news platform on YouTube, News Central, also lays credence to the fact that the video was not that of Nigerian soldiers. 

Also, contrary to the assertion that those being burnt were alive, a careful study of the video revealed that they were dead.


Our findings show that the incident in the video happened in Mozambique. Hence, the narrative that Nigerian soldiers in the Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State burnt young men alive is false. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Harmony FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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