CLAIM: Boko Haram Did A Mass Conversion Of People To Islam In Niger State

Adeyemi Okediran

 

On Sunday, May 2, 2021, Nigerian social media space went agog with a video that was tweeted by Femi Fani-Kayode. The tweet which has generated over 1,100 comments, 2,100 retweets, and 1,400 likes was captioned, “Boko Haram and ISWAP forcefully converting people to Islam in the parts of Niger state that they have captured, conquered, occupied and flown their flag. This is happening just two hours from Abuja! I warned you!”

CLAIM

From the video posted by Fani-Kayode, N-VA extracted the claim, “Boko Haram Did A Mass Conversion Of People To Islam In Niger State,” and went on to fact-check its authenticity.

POTENTIAL IMPACT OF THE CLAIM

Femi Fani-Kayode is a Nigerian politician, essayist, poet, and lawyer. The former aviation minister has over 981,000 followers on Twitter and is known for spreading misinformation using the medium.

The worsening state of security in the country and the possibility of this claim heating up the polity make it pertinent to fact-check the veracity of the video.

At the time of carrying out this fact check, the video has been watched over 100,000 times, has over 2,100 retweets, and about 1,450 likes as of Friday morning.

VERIFICATION

In this short clip, hundreds of people were sighted assembled in an open space. A number of women were seen pointing their right index fingers towards the sky while standing at the space provided at the centre of the crowd. Some voice could be heard in the background, echoing the words of someone whose face is not shown.

Several hours after Femi-Fani Kayode, shared the video on his Twitter account, he made another Twitter post stating that he was not sure if the video was filmed in Nigeria but insisted it was still evidence of the sheer cruelty of the Islamist terror groups and the individuals they are forcefully converting.

His tweets read in part, “Some have claimed that this was not in Niger state or even Nigeria. Whether they are right or wrong only God knows. However wherever it is, this is evidence of the sheer cruelty of the Islamist terror groups and the individuals they are forcefully converting, whether they are from Niger state or anywhere else, are still human beings that are being subjected to the most primitive, vicious & barbaric form of terror.

“What u see here is precisely what Boko Haram is doing everywhere that it captures or flies its a flag. Live with that reality & pray hard.”

Some notable Twitter users, like activist Deji Adeyanju, Mazi Chukwuemeka Kingsley, and IKEM  were some of the people that also tweeted the video.

Is the video real?

Using different search engines, N-VA conducted different reverse image searches on

The fact-checker conducted a reverse image search on screenshots from the video using the inVid We Verify tool but this did not produce useful or related results.

The fact-checker however discovered that the video had a source stamp, which showed that it was from a popular video-sharing platform, TikTok. Also, under the TikTok logo is a username, @brahimakone49. Checks on TikTok to confirm that the user was authentic and that it was a legitimate account.

A perusal of the page revealed that the viral video shared by Fani-Kayode was originally uploaded on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, by @brahimakone49 and other related videos showing the same settings. The viral video had over eight hundred thousand views as of the time the fact-checker visited the page.

Though the comments under the video were written in French, after several translations of the comments posted under the video and @brahimkone49’s replies, the fact-checker stumbled on one where he wrote that: “Veins seulement à kolia tu n’a même pas besoin de parler avec elle tu seras gueri,” translated in English to mean, “Come to kolia, you don’t even need to talk to her, you will be cured.”

Another of his replies read “Elle soigner les maladie et d’autre problème viens prend ta bénédiction et inchallah dieu du va donner,” translate in English to mean, “She takes care of illness and other problems, come take your blessing and insha Allah, God will give.” This reply was juxtaposed with the former one and interpreted to mean that the video was from an open ground miracle worker that heals people and the healer who is a female performs her regular event in Kolia.

A Google search for Kolia, showed that it is a town in the Bagoué Region of Northern Ivory Coast, a French-speaking West African country.

NIGER STATE GOVERNMENT REACTS TO VIRAL VIDEO

Recall that Boko Haram has hoisted its flags in two communities in Niger state as shared in a news article published by Premium Times on April 26, 2021, which stated that “The Niger State government says Boko Haram has hoisted its flags in Kaure and Shiroro local government areas of the state.

“The North-central state is about 140km to the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria’s seat of power.
“Sambisa is several kilometres from Abuja but Kaure is less than two hours drive from Abuja. So nobody is safe anymore, not even those in Abuja,” Governor of Niger State lamented on Monday, April 26.

However, following the claim made in the viral video on May 2nd that Boko Haram did a mass conversion in Niger, the State Government had debunked it as false. Less than an hour after the video went viral, the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, quoted Fani-Kayode’s tweet, saying “fake news.”

In another Twitter thread, the Governor shared screenshots of three handles that had shared the video with the same claim and stated: “This widely shared video on social media is totally misleading and the work of those who wish to see the country up in flames. This video is an old video that does NOT even originate from Nigeria, talk more of Niger State.

“As citizens, we should rather use our vantage position to complement the peace efforts of the government than spread fake news, cause disunity, raise unnecessary alarm capable of causing disaffection among the peace-loving people of Niger State and Nigeria at large.”

CONCLUSION

The open-source intelligence (OSINT) used in tracing the origin of the video and the multiple statements from the Niger state government show that the claim made by Femi-Fani Kayode stating that the viral video shows Boko Haram forcefully converting people in Niger State to Islam is FALSE.

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