Old footage does not show Nigerian separatists protesting recent arrest of Nnamdi Kanu
A video viewed tens of thousands of times on Facebook is being shared alongside claims that it shows supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement protesting the arrest of their leader Nnamdi Kanu in June 2021. This is false; AFP Fact Check found that the footage has been on the internet since 2015 and is unrelated to Kanu’s latest arrest.
The video, posted on Facebook here on June 30, 2021, has been shared more than 2,000 times.
The caption warns Nigerian officials against harming Nnamdi Kanu, the secessionist leader behind calls from some Igbos for a separate state of Biafra, and claims supporters had just gathered in Port Harcourt for a demonstration against his recent, surprise extradition.
It reads:“Happening now 30/6/2021 at egweocha portharcout...If any thing happen to our able leader mazi Nnamdi Kanu the zoo called Nigeria government is going to be very big mess Biafra is our last hope know more going back until biafra is restored under the leadership of mazi Nnamdi Kanu (sic).”
The same video and claim were also shared here. Another Facebook post here aired the footage as purportedly "live" on June 30, 2021, where it has been viewed more than 91,000.
Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigerian's former aviation minister, also shared the video with the caption: "Marching for Nnamdi! I repeat this man must not die in detention."
Kanu’s repatriation to Nigeria on June 29, 2021, after fleeing the country in 2017 during a criminal trial, led to wild speculation about which country helped the Nigerian government recapture the IPOB leader.
The UK, where Kanu has dual citizenship, denied any involvement. A spokesman at the British High Commission in the Nigerian capital Abuja said that “Kanu was not arrested in the UK for extradition purposes,” as AFP reported here.
Kanu founded IPOB in 2013 and now faces charges “bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms,” Nigeria's justice minister Abubakar Malami said in a statement.
Members of the group have since been calling for Kanu’s release. But the claim that the video shows evidence of recent demonstrations is false.
Video from 2015
A reverse image search using keyframes from the video led us to an earlier version uploaded to YouTube on October 21, 2015, about a week after Kanu was first arrested six years ago in a Lagos hotel and charged for treasonable felony.
That arrest raised further discontent in southeastern Nigeria, where most of Kanu’s supporters live and have been clamouring to break away from Nigeria, as AFP reported at the time. The protest captured in the video was taken at the time and showed thousands of protesters who took to the streets in southeast Nigeria to demand the release of Kanu.
The purported “live stream” of the video on Facebook last month, therefore, did not take place in real time at all. AFP has previously reported in a similar case how an old video was played on loop and streamed on Facebook to give the impression it was happening live.
Kanu will appear in court again on July 26 when his trial resumes.