Back to Africa Check

No evidence that 500 Nigerian military officers of Igbo ethnicity resigned in protest against president Bola Tinubu

IN SHORT: An old claim about 500 Igbo military officers resigning over lack of confidence in Bola Tinubu as commander-in-chief has resurfaced. But there is still no evidence for it. 

In March 2024 a message circulated on Facebook, claiming that 500 Nigerian military officers from the Igbo ethnic group had resigned after passing a vote of no confidence in president Bola Tinubu.

The claim is circulating as a screenshot of a breaking news report and as Facebook posts

“Breaking news: 500 Igbo military officers resign from Nigeria's military, passed a vote of no confidence for Tinubu as president,” the headline of the screenshot reads.

The claim also appears here, here, here, here, here and here.

The Igbo are from Nigeria’s southeast region, which seceded from Nigeria in 1967 to form a sovereign state called the Republic of Biafra. The state collapsed after a 30-month civil war.

In the Nigerian military, the term “military officer” is used for commissioned officers in the army who have senior ranks from second lieutenant to field marshal. They are usually graduates of military academies

According to the Nigerian Armed Forces Act, an officer can only resign after obtaining permission. 

“All promotions, retirements, resignations and dismissals of an officer from any of the services of the Armed Forces shall be published in the Gazette,” section 24 of the act reads

The act also says that expressing a lack of confidence in the president, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, could be interpreted as mutiny or insubordination. The offenders could face imprisonment if convicted by a court-martial.

Considering this, have 500 military staff of Igbo origin really resigned because they don’t have confidence in Tinubu? We investigated.


Old claim, no evidence

We found that the claim first circulated in May 2023, days before Tinubu was sworn in as president. 

Examples of the claim made in May 2023 on Facebook can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. But there was no credible evidence of this then. 

The resignation of 25 officers from the Nigerian Army made the news in August 2023. The army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, told journalists their resignation was approved by the chief of army staff after they applied and met the terms for voluntary discharge.

It is very unlikely that the resignation of 500 officers from one ethnic group would go unreported by the media.

We found no evidence of this claim on any communication channels used by the army, airforce or navy.

Such a claim could lead to tension among Nigeria’s ethnic groups. But there is no evidence it was true, either in May 2023 or March 2024.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.