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FACT CHECK: Did terrorists recently threaten to bomb churches? No, viral video is old

FACT CHECK: Did terrorists recently threaten to bomb churches? No, viral video is old
June 15
13:48 2022

A video showing Ayuba Elkana, Zamfara state commissioner of police, confirming the receipt of a threat letter from suspected bandits, instructing Christians to close down churches for three months in Zamfara has surfaced on social media.

The video has been shared on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

“Police have confirmed receipt of a threat letter asking all churches in Nigeria to close for 3 months,” reads the caption of the video posted by a Facebook user on June 14.

The Facebook account has over 112,000 followers. The video has been viewed at least 165,000 times, with over 750 comments and 8,200 shares.

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Analysing some of the comments by unsuspecting Facebook users shows many have been misinformed by the video and its caption.

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VERIFICATION

Checks by TheCable showed that the video in circulation has been available on Youtube since 2021.

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The video was filmed in Zamfara when Elkana briefed the press on November 30, 2021. During the press briefing in Gusau, the state capital, Elkana confirmed receiving a threat letter sent by suspected bandits instructing churches in Zamfara to close down for three years or risk being attacked.

“The letter was dropped at the entrance gate of the state’s police command by unidentified persons,” the police commissioner had said.

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While rolling out strategies put in place by security agencies to avert security breaches, the police chief clarified that the threat letter listed some churches in the outskirts of the state’s capital that would be attacked during church activities before the end of 2021.

TheCable reached out to Iliya Tsiga, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Zamfara, and he confirmed that the video in circulation is old.

“I have seen the video you mentioned. It is an old video from November 2021. They are just recycling it. The issue has since been rectified and taken care of; whoever is circulating such a video is a mischief-maker trying to cause tension in the state,” Tsiga said.

“The letter was written as a threat to all Christians in the state. They didn’t specify any tribe. We are saying our people should disregard the video and picture and go about their daily activities.”

VERDICT

The viral video is old footage from 2021. The viral claim that suspected bandits recently ordered the closure of all churches in Nigeria for three months is false.



This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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