Fact-check: ISWAP Attacked Nigerian Army University, Not Main Campus

The video footage from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) showed the group's assault on an Army institute.

The Islamic State affiliate attack on Jan. 10 in the northeastern town of Buratai targeted the Nigerian Army Institute situated about 32 km from the university campus in Biu, town. 

Several posts claiming ISWAP insurgents attacked the Army university in the southern Borno town of Biu have flooded the microblogging site, Twitter. The reaction followed the group’s release of footage showing insurgents in gun trucks and on foot breaching a facility and destroying vehicles. 

A tweet on the video shared by Standard Observers (@Standardobserve), with the caption, “Just In: ISWAP terrorists release video of attack on Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State,” had over 4,000  views and 270 retweets.

Another post by @EmekaGift100 with more than 12,000 views and 605 retweets had the caption, “ISWAP chased Nigeria soldiers away, takes over Nigeria Army university campus for Security & Strategic studies Biu Borno State, home town of General Tukur Buratai, the retired Nigerian Army General, former Chief of Army Staff, current Nigeria Ambassador to the Republic of Benin.”

Other tweets attributing the attack to Nigerian Army University Biu include a post by @PDPVanguardFOrum with over 4,000 views and 155 retweets and another by @AbdulMahmud01 with more than 1,400 retweets.

Google Earth image of the Tukur Buratai Institute of War and Peace in Buratai area of Biu in southern Borno.
Screenshot from the video shows similar features with the institute and signage indicating the name of the facility.

However, the institution attacked was the Tukur Buratai Institute for War and Peace located along the Damaturu-Biu road in the Buratai area, southern Borno. 

Google Earth image of the area shows features that appeared in the video including the quarter guard and sentry outpost with flag poles, the signage, and a blue roof structure adjacent to the institute’s main building. 

In the video, insurgents are shown armed with different types of weapons including AK pattern rifles, DShKM heavy machine gun and OTO Melara Mod 56 105mm howitzer.  

According to information on the university website, the institute is sited on the damaged farm of the former Army Chief, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, donated to the Army after his appointment in 2015.

It was initially set up in 2017 as a museum for materials related to the military campaign in the region, before it was upgraded to a Counter-Terrorism Centre in 2019 and finally an institute in 2020 under the Army university located 31.5 km away in the main town of Biu.

The institute has six sub-centres, including research, documentation, counter-terrorism and insurgency, cyber security, strategic communication, museum, and archives.

The security situation around the institute is more vulnerable due to the remote nature of Buratai and its closeness to areas with significant insurgent activities, compared to the location of the University itself in Biu.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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