Back to Africa Check

Photos of protesters not from Nigeria

A Facebook post published on 20 January 2020 and shared nearly 500 times claimed that protesters in Imo state in the southeast of Nigeria were shot dead by the military. 

The post included two photographs showing armed men in military uniforms and a large armoured vehicle and said: “SAD SUNDAY IN IMO STATE! SEVERAL ‘PROTESTERS’ WERE KILLED TODAY,OVER THE REMOVAL OF ‘GOV IHEDIOHA’ THE MILITARY SHOOT THEM DEAD.”

Some Facebook users called the post fake news.

One said: “You lie a lot, people please ignore this fake news, it's a fat lie, Imo state is calm.”

Were protesters killed in Imo state on 19 January?

Contentious Imo election

An election for governor of Imo state was held in March 2019. The Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, was declared the winner

The Peoples Democratic Party, or PDP, is one of the largest political parties in Nigeria and held power from 1999 to 2015. The All Progressives Congress, or APC, took over the presidency of the country from the PDP in 2015, under Muhammadu Buhari.

On 14 January 2020, the Nigerian supreme court nullified the March 2019 election, and removed Ihedioha from his position as governor of Imo state. The court declared Hope Uzodinma of the APC the new governor of the state. 

There was a protest against the removal of the governor by Imo residents on 19 January 2020, but there was no record of casualties. 

The PDP also protested against the decision in Abuja, the Nigerian capital where the supreme court is located. Though there were clashes with members of the APC and some injuries, there were no deaths recorded.

Photo not from Nigeria

A reverse image search showed the photo of soldiers and a tank was not from Nigeria. It was taken in Malawi, during a January 2020 protest by non-governmental organisation the Human Rights Defenders Coalition

The original photo was stamped with a watermark that said “Ras Kansengwa”, a well-known freelance photographer in Malawi. 

The photographs have also been shared on Twitter, captioned as protests in Malawi. The photographs are not from protests in Nigeria, and there is no evidence that anyone was killed during protests in Imo state. – Jennifer Ojugbeli 


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.