Back to Africa Check

Photos in viral posts are of past earthquakes, not trashed Nigerian store

Photos supposedly showing a store in Nigeria trashed by a man angry with his wife were posted on Facebook in November 2020.

One version claims that a “Mr Sunday Nkem” destroyed goods “worth of millions in a mini store owned by his wife”.

The backstory is that Nkem allegedly set up the business in his wife’s name with the intention of supporting their family, but this did not happen.

Some of the viral posts advise that women should not let men open businesses for them, as the man would target it in the event of a family disagreement. 

On the surface the posts appear to be little more than the tittle-tattle that pervades social media. But just two of these posts have pulled in a combined 8 million views in just two weeks, perhaps speaking to a fascination with dramatic social relationships.  

Earthquakes in USA and Japan

But the evidence offered for the story, if it happened, is not what it appears to be. A reverse image search of one of the photos reveals that it has been online for more than a year, having first been shared in June 2019. 

The online site of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper used the photo in a story reporting on a 5.6-magnitude earthquake on 22 June 2019. This took place about 55 kilometres south of Eureka along the coast of Humboldt County, in the US state of California.

At one store, the rumble is reported to have “caused a mess of broken glass bottles and spilled food” but no major damage to the building. The accompanying photo used in the viral posts is of this store.

The story added: “Pictures of the store in the aftermath of the earthquake show puddles of spilled shampoo, vinegar, juice and condiments on the floor among boxes and bottles that had fallen off the shelves.” 

Two other images have watermarks that offer a clue as to their origin. They are stamped “alamy” and “gettyimages”. We uploaded one image into Alamy – the British privately owned stock photography agency – and got a hit. It depicts a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido in November 2004. 

The last image in the viral posts is of a photo from Getty Images, another stock photo company. 

It is captioned: “Products are seen scattered on the floor of a supermarket store in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture in Japan on June 19, 2019, after a strong earthquake struck Japan's northeastern region on the night of the previous day.”

None of the photos are of a shop trashed by an irate partner in Nigeria. – Africa Check


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.