Photo shows protest over removal of Nigerian fuel subsidy in 2012, not jubilation over Twitter ban

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An image showing a crowd walking along a highway has been circulated on social media with claims that it shows residents of Kano state in Nigeria’s northwest celebrating the suspension of Twitter operations in the west African country. However, the claim is false: the photo has been circulating since at least 2012 in reports about demonstrations against the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria. 

One of the earliest versions of the claim was published on June 6, 2021, by a Facebook account by the name of Richard Ohwofasa Anigboro, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Screenshot taken on June 7, 2021, showing the false Facebook post

“KANO YOUTHS CELEBRATES THE SUSPENSION OF TWITTER! (sic),” the Facebook post's caption reads. “They joined in the ‘celebrations’ because they were told that Twitter is the name of a lady that committed adultery in Southern Nigeria.”

Kano has an estimated population of more than 13 million people, making it the most populous state in northern Nigeria.

On June 5, 2021, Nigeria suspended Twitter's operations indefinitely after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari's account for violating its rules.

Buhari’s tweet had referred to recent violence in the southeast, where officials have blamed separatists for deadly attacks on police and election offices.

The image has since appeared alongside the same claim elsewhere on Facebook where it has been shared more than 400 times.

However, it is unrelated to the Nigerian government’s backlash against Twitter.

Old picture

AFP Fact Check ran a reverse image search and found the photo in an article on the website of American cable news channel CNN. The report confirms the photo in question was indeed taken in Kano, but nearly a decade ago.

Screenshot taken on June 7, 2021, showing the image on CNN’s website

“Nigerians take to the streets in protests - Protesters took to the streets on Monday, January 9, in a nationwide strike against the Nigerian government’s decision to take away fuel subsidies,” the caption on the photo reads.

Kano-based lawyer Abba Hikima’s name is credited in the top right-hand corner of the original image on CNN’s website. AFP Fact Check has  contacted Hikima for a comment.

Nigeria’s resolve to scrap fuel subsidies in January 2012 was confronted with a mix of a national strike and mass demonstrations that lasted for a week. Protesters took to the streets in various parts of the country under the banner of Occupy Nigeria to demand an end to the subsidy removal that caused the price of petrol to jump overnight.