Claim: A viral video resurfaced on Wednesday, 30th June 2021 claiming members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) staged a mass protest against the recent re-arrest of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. It showed IPOB members displaying their flags and chanting war songs.
Verdict: The viral video is misleading as it is a 2015 video that resurfaced and is being circulated to sell a narrative that IPOB members constituted a nuisance after the arrest, causing a lot of gridlock in Port Harcourt.
On Tuesday, 29th June 2021, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, announced the re-arrest of Kanu.
Malami said Kanu was intercepted through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian Intelligence and Security Services on Sunday, June 27.
He said Kanu had been brought back to Nigeria to continue facing trial for 11 counts against him after jumping bail in 2017.
Kanu was first arrested in Nigeria on October 14, 2015, following years of his campaign for the sovereign state of Biafra.
He was granted bail in April 2017 but fled the country after soldiers invaded his residence in Abia state during a military clampdown on IPOB members.
While on the run, the separatist leader piloted the affairs of IPOB from abroad.
His re-arrest has sparked heated reactions across the country’s political landscape.
Not long after Kanu’s re-arrest, social media users started sharing a video of IPOB members protesting on a street in Port Harcourt and causing a lot of unrest, linking it to the warning.
Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, took to his Facebook page to share the same video with the caption, “Marching for Nnamdi! I repeat this man must not die in detention.” The post has since gathered over 6,000 likes on the platform with 4,000 shares.
He also shared the video on Twitter and it had raked in over 1,900 retweets and 2, 600 likes as of Tuesday, June 6.
On Youtube, the video was shared by some media platforms and while some later removed it, some others did not remove it.
Dubawa observed that the video that has gone viral on social media appeared in various lengths. One was 8 minutes 22 seconds long while another appeared in 4 minutes 25 seconds; another version which was shared was 4 minutes, 38 seconds. The video showed protesters who appeared to be members of IPOB in vehicles and on foot en masse on the streets with the Biafran flag.
A YouTuber who shared the video on June 30, said in the background, “It is happening right now in Igweocha Rivers State, Igweocha is boiling right now, our people brothers and sisters have come out to protest the arrest of our great leader. Zoo government can’t silence us, no they can’t do that, we can’t be discouraged, Biafra is here. We are here.”
Forty seconds into the video, a man and a lady could be heard in the background shouting: “Nna eh (Igbo word meaning Father), e dey happen for Port Harcourt oh, Biafra, Biafra, here we are, O boy see the crowd. This is the state of Biafra at Igweocha. They want to bring down the Nigerian flag, this is Biafran land. Yes, this is Biafra! Biafra, here we are, at Igweocha, declare the state of Biafra. They have removed the Nigerian flag. For Buhari to tamper with Nnamdi Kanu, he is finished. Buhari must obey Biafra.”
Dubawa also observed an icon at the right-hand corner of the video which represents that of a video editing app, Kine Master. The Youtuber used this video editing app, Kine master to select and edit the videos.
Another Youtuber, Val Obi, rotated the same video before posting on his channel. While the original version of the video and other copies of the video showed a red truck on the left-hand side of the recorder, this YouTuber changed the view to the right hand.
He claims, “There is rioting at the moment in the city of Igweocha Port Harcourt following the arrest and detention of Mazi Kanu.”
From checks, the video had originated in 2015. One of the YouTube channels, NNTV – Africa posted the video as far back as October 31, 2015, in three parts. Part one of the video is what has been copied and recirculated as a recent video.
IPOB had earlier in a statement issued on 30th of June had urged its members to remain calm and had only declared that its members will flood Abuja for Kanu’s trial on July 26 and 27 as stated.
The statement issued by the group’s spokesman Emma Powerful had read, “…Our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Government. This evil crime of kidnapping was masterminded by the Nigerian Government in collaboration with all those that view IPOB and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as a stumbling block against their bid to hold Biafra in perpetual slavery.
“We, therefore, enjoin every IPOB member both at home and in the Diaspora and all Biafrans to remain calm because this is not the end of the road. Our leader’s next court appearance is July 26, 2021, and Biafrans should mobilize and attend the court hearing.”
This reporter observed the picture quality of the video was not of a very high resolution.
With the InVID verification Plugin, the reporter used the analysis tab to get fragments (images) from the video.
The reporter further used the available reverse image search engines such as TinEye, Google image reverse search, and Yandex on the fragments produced.
While Yandex did not produce any useful results, Google’s reverse image search showed that the video had been posted several times in the last few days on Facebook, online platforms with most results showing YouTube videos.
One of the search results showed the same video uploaded on October 21, 2015, titled ‘IPOB Biafra Burning Nigeria Flags in Port Harcourt’.
TinEye produced about four matches for the video when a keyframe analysis was conducted showing the same videos being uploaded in 2016 and 2019.
Using the keyframe tab, InVID also allowed for a video fragmentation, where the reporter selected keyframes, and with a right-click, more search engines were made available for reverse image search.
With this, the Bing search engine brought up the same result of the video uploaded on October 21, 2015, titled ‘IPOB Biafra Burning Nigeria Flags in Port Harcourt’.
A keyword search on YouTube also led to the video which was posted on October 31, 2015, on NNTV-Africa titled, ‘Biafra Restoration, Nnamdi Kanu’s Arrest: IPOB Protest in Igweocha (Port Harcourt) Rivers State Part 1”
This fact-check concludes that the viral video of protesters carrying the Biafran flag also with leaves chanting war songs is misleading as the video first appeared online in 2015. Therefore, the video could not have been connected to a recent protest against the re-arrest of Kanu in the South-South.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with SaharaReporters to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.