Claim: A video shared on Twitter purporting to show the damage caused by burglars at a shopping mall in Osun State was claimed to have been recorded over a year ago.
Verdict: False. Findings show that the video is recent and could not have been filmed during the 2019 demonstrations against xenophobic attacks.
The verified Twitter account of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the United Kingdom shared a video on Saturday showing damaged items and broken glasses at stores inside Osun Mall, a shopping complex located at Osogbo/Gbongan Road, Osogbo. A lady who appeared to be a shop attendant/owner wailed as residents walked through the mall, observing the wreckage.
“Alleged #ENDsars #EndPoliceBrutality protesters storm Osun State Mall. Destruction and looting in progress,” the account claimed. It further urged the Nigeria Police to intervene.
Reacting to the upload, however, many have claimed that the video was old.
“The video is an old video. It happened during the xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa. And thugs storm the mall. They are not protestors. I think I can remember this video,” one person replied. The comment, at the time of writing, was liked 420 times and shared by 140 users.
“CONFIRMED: This was a protest against South African’s Xenophobia in Nigeria, not #EndSARS protest. Guys let’s report @APCUKingdom account aggressively. Una father,” said another Twitter user whose comment was respectively liked and shared over 1,800 times.
Also responding to the tweet, Nonso Egemba, popularly known as Aproko Doctor, made a similar claim. “This is fake news only directed at discrediting peaceful protesters in the street. This video is from the retaliation of Xenophobic attacks here in Nigeria. Report please,” he tweeted on Sunday.
His tweet was liked over 4,500 times and shared over 9,000 times as of 4:30 pm on Sunday. His account on the microblogging platform has over 626,000 followers. Many other tweets with similar claims also gathered hundreds of engagements.
Last year, in reaction to xenophobic attacks in South Africa against nationals of other countries, including Nigeria, Nigerians had taken to the streets in protest and looted businesses perceived to have been owned by South Africans. Riots in Pretoria and Johannesburg that started on September 1, 2019, had led to the death of at least 12 people.
Back in Nigeria, retaliatory attacks against South African political and business interests took place starting from the next day, September 3. Fire was set to a Shoprite outlet in Lekki, Lagos, by angry protesters, and an MTN shop was looted and attacked the same Tuesday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom. Another MTN outlet was vandalised in Ibadan, and then an attack on a Shoprite mall in Lugbe, Abuja, was foiled by the police on September 4.
The dust on the streets of Nigeria had already settled by the time an envoy from the South African government visited President Muhammadu Buhari on September 16 and offered “profuse apologies” over the violent incidents.
There is no record of a protest taking place in Osun State over xenophobic attacks in South Africa in the period. The protests held in September 2019 included only one over a hike in electricity tariff and fuel price and the alleged killing of a young man by law enforcement officers.
Based on information from the Facebook page of one of the brands (Femtech Information Technology) captured in the video uploaded by APC United Kingdom, HumAngle deduced that its shop in Osun Mall was opened months after the anti-xenophobia attacks.
“Do you reside in Osogbo and its environs? Are you in need of a smartphone, accessories, laptop, solar and inverters and other I.T gadgets? We are finally here for you! Your One-Stop I.T Firm. Locate us now at Shop 2, Osun Mall, Gbongan Road, Osogbo, Osun State and get a free GIFT for every of your purchase?” the company announced on December 9, 2019.
Osun Mall itself was opened to patronage on December 5, 2019. The foundation for the mall was ceremoniously laid by the governor on July 2, 2018, and as of November 15, 2019, the N2.7 billion complex was reported to have “almost [been] completed and hopefully will be ready for use soon.”
Therefore, while the looting and destruction of shops connected with what happened in South Africa took place in September, that of the Osun Mall was more recent and could not have happened at the time.
Various reports have, meanwhile, stated that the attack of the mall indeed occurred on Saturday, October 17, but was staged by hoodlums, not people advocating under the #EndSARS campaign as insinuated by the APC United Kingdom handle.
The claim that the video was shot during the 2019 anti-xenophobia outrage is false.