False posts claim US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson have expressed support for Biafra (AFP / Hannah Mckay)

False quotes claim Boris Johnson and Mike Pompeo express support for Nigerian separatists

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Multiple Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have expressed support for the secession of Biafra -- a collection of states from southeast Nigeria -- from the rest of the country. This is false: there is no official record of such statements. British and American government representatives in Nigeria also denied either statesman made the remarks.

This post shared hundreds of times on Facebook alleges that Johnson gave tips on what Biafra must do when it secedes from the rest of Nigeria, warning that “things are failingly becoming worse (sic)” in the West African country.

Screenshot taken on October 9, 2020 showing the false post

Another post, shared hundreds of times on Facebook and archived here, claims that Pompeo said Biafra “would bring back the glory of the African Continent when achieved (sic)”.

“He said, ‘The Nation of Biafra is the only apparatus that can change the course of Africa, steering it back to the path of progress’,” the post reads in part. 

Screenshot taken on October 9, 2020 showing the false post

No such comments

AFP Fact Check found no public record of either Johnson or Pompeo making the comments attributed to them. 

Dean Hurlock, head of communications at the British High Commission in Nigeria, rejected the claim as false.

“The UK Prime Minister did not make any of the comments attributed to him. The UK respects both the territorial integrity of Nigeria and its commitment to work for a secure and prosperous Nigeria for all Nigerians,” he told AFP Fact Check.

A public information officer at the US consulate in Nigeria also said that “the attribution to Secretary Pompeo is false”.

A pattern of false attribution

Numerous Facebook pages in support of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group in Nigeria, have used the names of global figures to further their cause.

They have attributed comments in support of an independent Biafra to global figures including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, US President Donald Trump, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and French President Emmanuel Macron. AFP Fact Check found each of these claims to be false.

Mayowa Tijani