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Footage of a white building engulfed with flames has been circulated in social media posts claiming to show an inferno at the legislature in Nigeria’s southeastern city of Owerri in Imo state. However, this is false; the video clip predates the claim and AFP Fact Check confirmed it was actually filmed at a training college in Ghana.
The video of the burning single-storey building appears in numerous online posts amid an upsurge in attacks targeting security forces in Nigeria’s restive southeast, including Imo state where separatist tension is on the rise.
The 30-second video was published on Facebook by a pro-Biafran Facebook page called “Si Amico Biafra”. It has been shared nearly 300 times on the social network.
“Just In: Imo State house of assembly is on fire by Unknown Fire People (sic),” reads the caption on the post. Nearly 10,000 people have viewed the accompanying video since publication on April 25, 2021, according to data provided by Facebook.
The viral post followed the killings of three police officers and attempts to set fire to the Imo governor’s residence on April 24, 2021, causing violence that officials blamed on the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The separatist group is seeking independence for the indigenous Igbo people.
Using the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, AFP Fact Check noticed the video was widely circulated online by IPOB supporters who regularly use sensational news and misinformation to attack the country’s leadership.
However, this particular clip has nothing to do with Nigeria and there is no evidence a blaze occurred at Imo state’s parliamentary complex.
Fire at Ghanaian college
Using digital verification platform InVID WeVerify, AFP Fact Check ran several reverse image searches on keyframes of the video and found previous versions of the clip in Facebook and Instagram posts from April 19, 2021.
Captions in the posts describe the incident as an inferno that engulfed the administrative block of Mampong Technical College of Education in Ghana’s Ashanti region.
The April 19, 2021 fire was widely reported in the west African country. The mishap led to the destruction of ten offices in the building, according to Ghanaian online publisher MyJoy News.
Meanwhile, AFP Fact Check confirmed the footage actually shows the institution’s administrative block.
One of the images published in 2016 shows the front view of the block. While the blue canopies are missing in the old photo, the building’s colour and other features seen in the footage match with those in the photo from the institution’s Facebook page.
In addition, Nigerian daily newspaper The Punch reported that police authorities also dismissed the claim that the footage was filmed in Nigeria as false.