CLAIM: A viral video shows Nigerian Soldiers beating some men who are said to be Fulani Herdsman operating in some states in South West Nigeria
CONCLUSION: FALSE ATTRIBUTION
A viral video shows men in camouflage armed with rods beating some shirtless men on the ground while being surrounded by cattle and a truck. The video has been widely circulated with various captions – some captions read “Nigerian Soldiers are beating Fulani Herdsman in some part of south western states”, some say that the event happened in Ekiti state and others say Ife.
In the video, the men in camouflage were speaking Nigerian pidgin English and some of the key words were: “We will deal with them, you can see that these ones are real bandit…We are not sharan Daji, we are operation 77 is that clear. This is Zamfara.”
In recent times, the southwestern states which were once considered safe have been tainted by rumours of Fulani- farmers clashes and kidnapping. And so, when this video surfaced, it heightened fears.
However, the first clue as to why this is a wrong attribution is the mention of Sharan Daji, a Northwestern term for the operation established to fight cattle rustling and banditry in the north especially in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi States. Operation 777, also mentioned in the video was established in 10 October, 2018 to consolidate and run concurrently with other operations of the Nigerian Army.
Also, on 30 March 2019, Air Commodore IBikunle Daramola, Nigeria Air Force Spokesperson, addressed this same issue in a statement, meaning that it is stale news and does not refer to any recent insecurity in the West. He said:
“The joint team had, sequel to intelligence reports, intercepted a group of suspected armed bandits, including some fighters from across the border, at their Sububu Forest hideout whilst they were on the verge of executing an attack against innocent civilians in Shinkafi. In the process, the team recovered one AK-47 rifle along with 3 loaded magazines and 3 Dane guns from the bandits. In an effort to obtain further information on the criminals’ plans and the location of their armoury, the troops employed unauthorized, crude corporal methods.
“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. Our personnel have always been directed to respect the rights of innocent civilians as well as captured combatants, no matter the provocation.”
More so, the video has also been circulating online in Mali since April, three weeks after 130 Fulani villagers were killed by armed attackers in Central Mali.
So, although this video does not refer to the insecurities in the Southwest, it is a true video of members of the Nigeria defence joint special operation under the code name Operation 777 and the incident occurred in Shinkafi Local government of Zamfara state where banditry is the bane of insecurity. It neither happened in Mali nor Southwestern states. The appearance of cattle in the 2-minute video does not confirm that the bandits were Fulanis either!