Back to Africa Check

Recycled photos shared as Nigeria loses more troops to Boko Haram

This article is more than 5 years old

Reports of about 100 Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram terrorists in Metele in Borno in the northeast of the country in November 2018 led to debates about security and troops’ welfare.

In the heat of the debate, photos of the “slain soldiers” circulated on social media as opposition politicians blamed the government for failing to prevent the “massacre”, despite a huge budget for weapons.

Opposition party shares recycled picture

One photo showing dozens of soldiers lying dead on the ground was tweeted by the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party. They demanded “explanations” from President Muhammadu Buhari.

AFP Fact-Check traced the image back to October 2011. It was said to show “Al-Shabab militants displaying the bodies of men they claimed were African Union peacekeepers killed in Somalia.”

Bombing Boko Haram – with a Russian jet

Supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress also shared recycled pictures. These showed the terrorists being bombed in retaliation.

Three photos were posted on Facebook by a leader of the APC, Joe Igbokwe, with the message: “Boko Haram called for it and they are getting it big time. PMB [President Muhammadu Buhari] no dey carry last as a war time general.” (Note: This translates to “President Muhammadu Buhari does not fail, being a wartime general”.)

But two of the photos are not from Nigeria and one is three years old.

A reverse image search showed that the picture of billowing smoke was taken on 8 November 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq, by a US Marine.

The fighter jet is a Russian Sukhoi Su-25, snapped by AP while it took part in a joint military exercise with the army of Belarus in October 2008.

The third photo seems to date from December 2015, when the Nigerian army tweeted it with the caption: “Troops are continuing their advancement towards the main camp of the [Boko Haram] sect in Sambisa Forest.” - Allwell Okpi (30/11/18)      

Further reading:


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

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.