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Factcheck: Photo Of ‘ISWAP/Fulani Terrorists Chilling In Public’ Not Shot In Nigeria

A separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, claimed a picture of a militant group ‘chilling in the public' was taken in Nigeria. It is not true.

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.

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.

A screenshot of Kanu’s claim on Monday, May 24, 2021.

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.

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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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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