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Nigerian army torturing people in ‘Biafraland’ in 2019? No, photo at least two years old

Warning: This report links to a disturbing photo.

A photo posted on Facebook in November 2019 shows a pile over two dozen mostly naked men lying on the ground, their arms tied behind their backs.

The world should take note of what is happening in #BIAFRALAND,” the caption reads 

The Nigeria army are torturing our people in their checkpoint all in the name of Operation show your ID card in Biafraland this is getting out of hand, no one should blame us if we fight them back.”

Identification operation launched November 2019

Biafra is a region in south-eastern Nigeria. Its secession in 1967 sparked a civil war, and sympathisers’ calls for its independence continue.

Operation Positive Identification is a nationwide campaign by the Nigerian army that was set to run from 1 November to 31 December 2019. On 6 November the high court in Lagos ordered the campaign suspended after a request by a human rights lawyer, the press reported

But does the photo show the torture of people by the Nigerian army “in the name” of the ID operation?

Photo online since at least 2017

Online reverse image searches show that the photo has been circulating online since at least 2017. This means it can’t be evidence of torture in 2019. (Note: Learn how to do a reverse image search on your smartphone here.)

The photo has been used a number of different times as evidence of different atrocities. 

A March 2017 post on the discussion website Free Uganda claims the photo is of a November 2016 massacre in Kasese district in western Uganda. The photo has often been posted by social media users condemning this alleged attack by Ugandan government forces. 

Africa Check has been unable to conclusively trace the origin of the photo, or find out what exactly it shows. But it’s at least two years old, so it can’t show any action by the Nigerian army in an operation launched on 1 November 2019.

The photo is therefore being used on Facebook as false evidence of a claim. Allwell Okpi


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