Unmasked Kenyan police arresting man for not wearing mask? Photo from Nigeria, in 2017

A photo on a popular Kenyan Facebook page shows three men in uniform appearing to arrest a man. 

Its caption reads: “A facemask seller was arrested for not wearing mask by policemen who were not wearing masks.” It was posted on 20 May 2020.

In Kenya, wearing masks in public is mandatory, as part of attempts to curb the spread of Covid-19. The police have said people not wearing masks can be charged. The order was enforced 6 April 2020, when a legal notice by the ministry of health was published.

But does this photo show Kenyan police arresting a man for his failure to comply with these recent regulations? We checked.

Photo at least three years old

A reverse image search reveals the photo was taken long before Covid-19 was first reported in China in December 2019. 

It was first posted on website Sahara Reporters on 25 January 2017 and captioned: “Shiites in confrontation with Nigeria police during Free ZakyZaky protest.” The photo is part of a series titled “Police vs Shia Protesters in Abuja”.

The photo was also posted on Twitter by Sahara Reporters, and the protest was covered by other Nigerian media outlets. 

Using a magnifying tool on the uniforms of the police officers reveals the words “Nigeria Police” on their badges, at the shoulder. 

Wearing face masks in Kenya has only been enforced since April 2020, and this photo shows protesters in Nigeria over three years earlier. – Dancan Bwire


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