No, these weapons were not recovered from herdsmen in Nigeria’s Southern Kaduna

A picture shared thousands of times on Facebook claims to show a huge stash of weapons found at the home of two brothers, described as herders in Southern Kaduna, Nigeria. This is false -- it’s a picture of the Nigerian army showing former president Goodluck Jonathan weapons that were recovered from Boko Haram jihadists in 2015.

The post, which has been shared more than 15,000 times since it was published in March 2018, claims the Nigerian army recovered the arms from “Bulus Kinze and his brother Mr. James Kinzu of Kongu Village” in the Jema’a local government area. But this is not the case.

A screenshot taken on May 6, 2019 shows the misleading Facebook post

The same picture was later shared in other Facebook and blog posts in 2018 making the same false claim. We’ve archived some of them here, here and here.

It was also translated into Hausa, the major language in northern Nigeria, and posted in March 2019 by a Facebook page by the name of "TV Hausa". This version of the post has been shared over 1,600 times. We've archived it here.

We also found that the photo had been used in a news article published back in August 2015 which similarly spoke about two brothers named of Bulus and James Kinze who were allegedly using their home in Kaduna State as a weapons factory.

A screenshot taken on May 6, 2019 shows the picture used out of context in an article by Nigerian site YNaija

A Google search of “Bulus Kinze” then led us to many news articles from mid-2015 about the brothers, reporting that they were indeed being accused of hosting an illegal weapons factory in their home. The reports at this time did not describe the brothers as herdsmen.

A screenshot taken on May 6, 2019, showing Google search results for the term 'Bulus Kinze'

At this point it seemed possible that the details of the posts that appeared in 2018 were simply recounting an event that had actually happened several years previously, and that the picture did indeed show the scene outside the brothers’ home. But as we’re about to show, that’s not the case either.

Nigerian police never released any photos of the scene outside the brothers’ home, and news reports carrying the picture at the time were in fact using a picture taken months earlier, in a different state, and showing a completely different event.

A close look at the picture shows former president Goodluck Jonathan to the far right of the picture, dressed in military apparel, suggesting it was certainly taken in 2015 or earlier, while he was still in office as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.  

Former president Goodluck Jonathan marked in red

To be certain, we ran a simple Google reverse image search, which revealed that the picture showed Jonathan during a visit to Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents in Baga, Borno State in the northeast of the country in February 2015. These reports appeared before the photo began appearing in August of the same year alongside the story about the weapons found in Kaduna.

The reverse image search showed that the picture was used in numerous media reports in February 2015, attributing ownership of the picture to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), and some, like this and this, had no attribution at all.

We also found the picture on the verified Twitter page of Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman while he was president -- again confirming that the photo of the guns laid out on the ground was taken in Baga. Abati posted the picture on February 26, 2015, as archived here.

A screenshot taken May 6, 2019 showing the same picture posted by Jonathan's media aide at the time

Abati also posted other pictures showing Jonathan checking out some of the ammunition recovered at the time -- at the same location, which was the base of the multinational joint task force battling Boko Haram in Baga and other parts of Borno State.

Southern Kaduna is one of many areas blighted by 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.