Photos do not show armed men detained in Nigeria and are unrelated to the country's security issues

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Nigeria is battling a string of security challenges, including secessionist movements, insurgencies, kidnappings and fatal clashes between nomadic herders and locals. A recent Facebook post alleged that a set of photos showed three herders arrested with an assortment of weapons at a “terrorist camp” in Enugu state in southeast Nigeria. But the claim is false: image searches revealed that the photos show three Bahamian teenagers accused of robbery and rape in 2021, while the assorted weapons were seized in Kenya and Uganda.

“One Of The Fulani Terrorists Camps In Enugwu State Has Been Discovered And Busted By BVD Men On Ground Today 25th November 2022, Three Of The Terrorists Captured, While Others Escaped (sic),” reads the post published on November 25, 2022.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on November 5, 2022

It features five photos: one shows three men bound by rope sitting on the ground, another a human skull in a bush, and the remaining three are of several types of firearms.

The post, shared more than 240 times, was published by a Facebook account called “Biafran Vigillantee”. The account is sympathetic to the Biafran separatist movement and has been the subject of debunks by AFP Fact Check (including here and here).

Biafran Vigilante Drillers (BVD), credited with the purported arrest, is a militant group agitating for independence in southeastern Nigeria. The region has five states, including “Enugwu” (officially spelt Enugu), where the “terrorists” were allegedly captured.

Several other accounts shared the same pictures with similar messaging here, here, and here. A news blog also published the contents of the false Facebook post without verification.

Enugu state has been a hotbed of fatal attacks in recent weeks. Days before the claim was published, gunmen attacked a checkpoint and killed three police officers. Police blamed the assault on suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Like BVD, IPOB is pushing for the secession of Nigeria’s southeast and has a history of spreading disinformation debunked by AFP Fact Check.

Several other fatal attacks have been blamed on herders who are mostly nomadic and venture away from northern Nigeria in search of grazing areas for their cattle, due in part to the effects of climate change.

But the posts claiming terrorist herders were arrested in Nigeria are false.

Photos unrelated to Nigeria

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches and found the pictures portrayed events in other countries.

The photo of the three males was published by several Bahamian news outlets in June 2021. Bahamas Press, which used another photo of the same trio on June 17, 2021, reported that it showed three teenagers beaten by locals for allegedly raping and robbing a woman.

A screenshot of the photo of the suspects published by Bahamas Press, taken on November 6, 2022 (faces blurred by AFP Fact Check)

The photo was taken as a screenshot from a video posted on social media. A pixelated version of the footage was used in a news report by another Bahamian news outlet and shared on Facebook. Although the teens’ identities were hidden in the clip, their clothing and the rope match the images on social media.

A screenshot shows the scrambled video of the three people, taken on December 6, 2022

The three were later taken in by the police and were subsequently charged with rape and robbery.

The second photo was published on January 1, 2022, by Uganda-based Nile Post. The caption said it showed a PK machine gun abandoned at Kambi Ya Yua, described as the largest camp of the jihadist group, Allied Democratic Forces.

The photo published by Nile Post and the one in the false claim have the same watermark which indicates that it was taken with a TECNO Camon phone.

Screenshots of the photo published by the Facebook and Nile Post, taken on November 5, 2022

The same picture was published on Facebook on December 27, 2021, by Kampala-based radio station CSB FM.

The post explained that the firearm was discovered abandoned at the terrorist camp on December 24, 2021, but that no arrests were made.

The photo that features a human skull was tweeted on July 17, 2021, by Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). In a thread, DCI explained the skull belonged to one of five girls murdered by a suspected serial killer who took police back to the scenes of the crimes.

Kenya news outlet The Star published a report about the arrest of the alleged perpetrator.

Several Kenyan news outlets published the fourth photo on July 8, 2021. According to The Nation, the photo showed a picture of an AK47 rifle snatched from a police officer in Machakos about a year earlier and found hidden in a bush by a farmer in Ruiru, Kiambu county.

The DCI also published the last picture — of a pistol — on September 8, 2022, saying it had been “stolen from a civilian firearm holder mid-last month in Chaka, Nyeri County” but was later recovered by detectives.

Kenyan news outlet Citizen Digital also published the photo in a report about the weapon’s recovery.