No, these photographs do not show killings by Fulani herders on Nigeria’s Abuja-Jos road

A Facebook post shared tens of thousands of times claims to show the scene of killings carried out by Fulani herders on the Abuja-Jos road in central Nigeria. This is false; the photos were taken at the scene of the abduction of a traditional chief in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria, in 2018 -- not on the Abuja-Jos road.

Caution: this post contains images of graphic violence.

The pictures, which have been shared over 40,000 times on Facebook and which we've archived here, were posted with a caption that claimed Fulani herdsmen had “started killing people that are traveling from Abuja to jos express road”. They show at least three bloodied bodies lying next to cars at the roadside.

A screenshot of a Facebook post claiming to show killings by Fulani herders on the Abuja-Jos road

We ran a Google reverse image search of the images, and found a number of articles that had used the same photos before the misleading post was published on November 5, 2018. We further traced the results thrown up by the reverse image search to get to the very first version of the images posted on social media.

The earliest post sharing the two photos was in a tweet (archived here) on October 20, 2018 which suggested they were taken after an attack on the convoy of a traditional ruler in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria. The number plate of the black car reads “His Royal Highness Agom Adara”.

A screenshot taken on May 15, 2019, showing the earliest upload of the pictures on social media

A Nigerian news website, CKN News, shared pictures from the scene showing other angles of same attack (attention: the article contains graphic images).

It was also reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and other credible local media that the monarch, Galadima Maiwada, the Agom Adara of Adara Chiefdom in Kaduna State, was abducted alongside his wife and driver in the village of Maikyali along the Kaduna-Kachia road.

Four of the Agom Adara’s aides were killed during the abduction. The monarch’s wife and driver were later released, but the Agom Adara himself was killed several days later and his body dumped by the roadside. His death was announced by the Kaduna state government on October 26, 2018.

While the pictures were posted out of context, kidnappings have been on the rise in Nigeria since February’s elections. In April, two aid workers -- one Nigerian, the other British -- were killed when gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle vacation resort in Kaduna where they were staying. Four other tourists were abducted from the resort.

In January, four Western tourists -- two Americans and two Canadians -- were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed. Such kidnappings are becoming popular in the hope of high ransom payments, particularly for those abducted on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.

As for the herder killings referred to in the misleading post, Kaduna is also the scene of years-long violence between largely Muslim Fulani herders and indigenous Christian farmers over land and water rights. The violence has taken on an ethnic and religious dimension of late, with politicians accused of inflaming the violence for political ends. You can find AFP reports on violence in the region here and here.