On Monday, the Nigerian Air Force on its Twitter page shared pictures of its ‘onslaught against Boko Haram terrorists’ in Borno State.
“Photos: Battle of Marte: See the damage inflicted on terrorists at the outskirts of Marte in Borno State as @NigAirForce helicopter gunships, dispatched by the Air Task Force (ATF)of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, destroyed about a dozen terrorists’ gun trucks & other vehicles,” NAF captioned the pictures in a post on Twitter.
Photos: Battle of Marte— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) January 18, 2021
(1/2) See the damage inflicted on terrorists at the outskirts of Marte in Borno State as @NigAirForce helicopter gunships, dispatched by the Air Task Force (ATF)of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, destroyed about a dozen terroristsâ gun trucks & other vehicles pic.twitter.com/5oWGjfi2Mz
A check by SaharaReporters using advanced technology however showed that the post which had been retweeted by over 440 users were old pictures from different attacks on the terrorists.
The first picture posted on Monday according to google reverse image search was taken in 2018 during an operation in Damasak, Borno State.
“Accordingly, a Nigerian Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform was dispatched to search for and locate the convoy of vehicles.
“The ISR aircraft spotted vehicles at a location 24 km SW of Gudumbali heading in a northwards direction. Consequently, a helicopter gunship was scrambled to attack the convoy.
“The helicopter arrived at the location and was vectored to the position of the vehicles, which, at the time, were about midway between Nigerian Army locations at Metele and Arege.
“Following communications with ground troops, the BHT vehicles were positively identified, isolated and attacked by the helicopter gunship in successive strikes,” NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, had said in a statement attached to the picture on September 16, 2018.
A check on the second, third and fourth pictures by SaharaReporters also revealed they were not taken in Marte as posted by the Nigerian Air Force.
The pictures, though taken in 2021 were from an attack by troops of the newly launched Operation Tura Takaibango, a subsidiary of Operation Lafiya Dole, after they repelled the insurgents at Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State on January 9.
A senior military officer who spoke to SaharaReporters confirmed the pictures were not from the onslaught on the terrorists at Marte.
He said, “I have seen all the pictures as well. Though we dislodged the group in Marte and killed many of them, it’s shameful that the Air Force could make such a silly mistake. None of the pictures posted was taken in Marte, some are from Gujba in faraway Yobe State. This is so shameful.”
This won’t be the first time a security agency in Nigeria would be sharing deceptive pictures on Twitter.
On December 01, 2020, the Nigeria Police Force shared a photoshopped picture of some arrested crime suspects.
The image tagged “photo news” shows a man and a woman who were reportedly arrested after six AK49 rifles were recovered from them.
The tweet reads, “L-R: Duleji Alhaji Abubakar a.k.a Ori jeje and Talatu Ibrahim from whom six (6) AK49 rifles were recovered.”
Looking closely at the picture, the two people have blurry white borders around their heads while the guns appear to have been badly edited in. There were also random reflections on a window behind them.
The post soon triggered massive reactions online with Twitter users tackling the security agency, accusing them of disinformation and misleading Nigerians.
Reacting, the police in a statement said, “The pictures are (an) authentic and true representation of the suspects and exhibits.
“They were taken separately and merged into one screen for seamless understanding of the story line.”