Social media was the major channel of information for mobilisation and latest updates during the ENDSARS protests which lasted for about two weeks.
The protests were triggered by recurring incidences of police brutality and extrajudicial killings across Nigeria.
Notable among the platforms used were Facebook and Twitter, reputable for live stream features, potential for quick spread of information and instantaneous feedback. This however gave room for fake news to thrive, especially after the Lekki Tollgate shooting , which played a major role in inciting the violence that erupted in states across the country as the protests came to an end.
Here are some of the pictures of dead bodies that went viral after the Lekki shooting and have been confirmed to be fake:
A photo of a man carrying a lady clad in blood-stained flag made rounds on social media as that of a #EndSARS protester shot by soldiers. Yemi Alade, a Nigerian singer, who has over 12 million followers on Instagram, shared the photo but later deleted it. Checks have shown that the photo is from a play staged by the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF).
The drama, titled: “Lord, Heal Our Land”, was in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary held on October 1. Also, a Facebook user, Onyinye Francis who was part of the drama confirmed that the picture was taken during the presentation of the drama.
Nollywood movie star, Eniola Badmus who was also reported dead on the night of the Lekki Shooting was forced to make a live video to debunk news of her death.
A Twitter user, Professor Coco was also forced to post a disclaimer on her timeline as her picture went viral with claims that she was one of the dead protesters shot at Lekki Toll Gate.
Another picture that went viral depicted a National Youth Service Corps member who was allegedly shot in the stomach by the Nigerian army. The individual in the picture, simply identified as SBG took to WhatsApp to clarify that the picture used was taken at a film set.
He wrote; “Please I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. This is to debunk the post that is making rounds on Twitter and Facebook. The said picture was taken on a film set and leaked. When you come across the post, please comment that it is a behind the scene picture from a movie set. I AM FINE AND HEALTHY. God forbid bad thing.”
Also, AFP debunked an image of shrouded bodies lined up on the ground, claimed to be casualties from the shooting of protesters at Lekki Toll Gate.
AFP noted that the photo showed dead members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who were killed in 2018 in the capital Abuja when security forces opened fire at a rally.
A Twitter user, Bolaji Wisdom Odu also posted what he claimed was a picture of one of the dead protesters, shot by the Nigerian Army. His picture caption read; “This is the guy that died on the IG live. His last words were pea e and unity. Rest in peace comrade it read”
A man identified as Steve Abbey however responded to the tweet, stating that the picture used was his own and he was alive. Abbey asked the poster to delete the picture.
Popular Nigerian OAP, IK Osakioduwa also debunked a viral photo of a lady and two men, alleged to have been shot at Lekki Toll Gate. He noted that the picture used was from an accident reported two days earlier.
“Apparently, the lady and two gentlemen in a photo seen across social media allegedly died a day before in a motorcycle accident. I checked her friend’s page and saw that she posted about it a day before yesterday,” he said.
Another Twitter account, @AdekintanS said an aspiring young man named Lawrence also died during the Lekki shooting. His post read; “His name is Lawrence, an aspiring young man, Nigeria murdered him yesterday”. A Google reverse image search revealed that the picture used from a news report posted on Ocotber 3, 2020. The headline of the report read, “Militants Attacked Passengers In Akwa-Ibom-Calabar Waterways.”