Posts falsely claim old photos show Nigerian leader's recent visit to Maiduguri
Images shared in Facebook posts purport to show Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit to Maiduguri in June 2021. The photos of massive crowds were shared as evidence of Buhari’s popularity in the region. These posts are misleading; most of the photos are old and do not show the president’s recent visit to the region.
Joe Igbokwe, a member of Buhari’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), posted a series of photos here and here on Facebook, claiming the images show Buhari in Maiduguri on June 17, 2021.
"Maiduguri Today", Igbokwe, who serves as special advisor for drainage and water resources to the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, wrote in his first post.
“No He is not campaigning , he is just on an official visit (sic). No Nigerian leader alive can attract people in a way he [Buhari] does,” he wrote in his second post.
Buhari visited Borno state on June 17, 2021 to speak to soldiers fighting Boko Haram and attend ceremonies, as reported by local media here. This was his first working visit to the region this year.
However, most of the images in these posts have been online for at least a year.
AFP Fact Check ran multiple reverse image searches on the photos, and found that all but two of them predate 2021.
The first image in Igbokwe’s first post, showing people on and alongside a bridge, appeared in an article by the BBC from February 2020. BBC credits Twitter user @DeeOneAyekooto with the image. The photo appears to have since been deleted from the Twitter account.
The BBC reported that the people gathered were booing President Buhari as he left the palace of the Shehu of Borno, the region's traditional ruler. The same story was reported by the local media here and here. Borno residents were angry at the president for worsening insecurity in the region at the time. Days before Buhari’s visit, Boko Haram fighters had killed at least 30 people near Maiduguri as reported by AFP here.
The second image in Igbokwe’s first post of four white buses in the midst of a large crowd was taken in 2019. It shows an All Progressives Congress political party rally in 2019, when Buhari was seeking reelection. It was shared here by Channels TV in January 2019 with the caption “President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu on Monday attended the party’s Presidential campaign which was held in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital”.
The same image was shared by Buhari’s media aide, Tolu Ogunlesi, here.
#PMBinBorno#PMB4Plus4pic.twitter.com/owg7vAiu4J— tolu ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) January 21, 2019
Old and new images
Igbokwe’s second post features several photos, with a caption noting that "No He [Buhari] is not campaigning , he is just on an official visit (sic)."
A close look at the first image reveals multiple political banners, suggesting the crowd was gathered for a political rally. One of the largest banners reads “Project 4+4 Borno state”, which was the slogan the APC used during Buhari’s 2019 reelection campaign.
A reverse image search leads to the original photo from a January 2019 rally. It is the second image in this Channels TV report.
The second image is from a political rally in Plateau state in central Nigeria in 2019. It shows a large crowd of people at the president’s reelection rally at Rwang Pam Township Stadium, and was shared here on a blog that reports on local news.
Local media reported that the crowd overwhelmed security agencies, and the president could not speak at the rally.
Meanwhile, the picture was shared on Twitter here by Ogunlesi, Buhari’s media aide, on January 21, 2019.
The last two images, which show Buhari surrounded by men in military uniform, are indeed from the president's recent visit to Maiduguri in June 2021. AFP Fact Check verified this by comparing AFP photos from the same event to those shared by Bashir Ahmed, Buhari’s aide for digital and new media, here and here.