A picture showing some militants on turbans and military fatigues brandishing assault rifles in an open field surrounded by onlookers has been widely circulated on the Nigerian internet space.
It is claimed that they are members of the terror group, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), and Fulani militia who operate in the country openly without government control. Checks by HumAngle, however, show the picture was not shot in Nigeria.
Nnamdi Kanu, a separatist leader who is in exile, shared the picture on his verified Twitter account on Monday, May 24, at 4.30 p.m. WAT, claiming the armed men were sensitising others about their extremist ideology in the open space without any security personnel challenging them.
ISWAP/BH #Fulani boys chilling in public, in broad daylight with AK47, educating fellow #Fulani men on their pathway to the Atlantic Ocean. No army, no police. No air strikes, no shoot at sight. No @CatrionaLaing1
Meanwhile, in Biafraland, young men are being shot at sight. pic.twitter.com/Ab4PNqgIyi
— Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (@MaziNnamdiKanu) May 24, 2021
The world be unfair if they keep silent after all these evidences presented before them on a daily basis. Innocent young men and women are being slaughtered while the real bad guys are been protected by the Nigerian state. I hope it would be fair game when Biafrans retaliates
— The mouthpiece (@bluntthinker) May 24, 2021
This is not the first time that Kanu, who leads the proscribed group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), calling for the secession of the Southeast and South-south regions from Nigeria, has misinformed the public. HumAngle has previously done extensive reports on his claims.
The claim was shared more than 5,500 times, liked by over 5,000 people on Twitter, and generated over 450 comments as of Tuesday, May 25, afternoon.
The IPOB leader berated the Nigerian government’s inability to stop the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of Nigerians in the Northeast region, stirring anger over the alleged military high-handedness in the southern region.
Multiple comments on the Twitter claim showed a wide range of acceptability.
The most unfortunate thing is that the government pretends as if this is not the reality on ground in the terrorists ravaged north. What a country indeed?! https://t.co/27xQ2QcG3Q
— Vickel le Sage© (@vickelokorie) May 24, 2021
Others users like Olúwarántí Luke Okufuwa (@OkufuwaTemitope) have challenged the source of the information: “Just pick any pics from any parts of the world and call it Nigeria to your gullible Ipobians, they will believe it anyways because they have sold their thinking to you. I guess this is what 85k a month buys you with Mercury Public Affairs LLC. Pics of Mali. Just say it’s Nigeria.”
Contrary to the claim, the picture was not shot in Nigeria but in Mali, according to experts on armed conflicts and extremism in Africa.
The picture was first uploaded on Twitter on Friday, May 21, by War Noir (@war_noir), a researcher on arms and extremism. According to the researcher, the picture was taken by members of militant groups, Islamic State in the Great Sahara (ISGS) and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), operating on Mali-Niger borders before cutting off the hands and feet of three men they paraded as thieves in a Malian market on May 2.
AFP also reported that the incident happened at a market in Tin-Hama in eastern Mali as the United Nations peacekeepers in the country pledged to help bring the insurgents to justice.
A terrorism expert, Tomasz Rolbiecki, also commented that the picture “is not from Nigeria and has nothing to do with Boko Haram and especially with the southeastern part of the country.”
Although the armed men in the picture are believed to be ISWAP/ISGS terrorists, it is not true the picture was taken in Nigeria.
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