Separatists promote conspiracy over Nigeria army killings

Almost a week after the video of the brutal murder of two Nigerian soldiers, Gloria Matthew and her fiancé, Linus Musa Audu, along with two of his relatives first appeared on social media, a conspiracy theory that the killings were staged was going viral on social media in Nigeria.

The BBC Disinformation Unit has confirmed from family sources that the couple and their relatives were indeed killed in the Orlu axis of Imo State, south-east Nigeria on April 30, 2022.

A family member of the couple with first-hand knowledge of the incident told the BBC in an interview that the killing occurred after they were waylaid by four armed youths “who emerged from the bush” not far from Banana Junction in Orlu.

Conspiracists and supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatist group on social media were actively pushing the narrative that the video was doctored and the killings actually occurred in Cameroon.

The claim was first posted on Facebook on May 7 by a user with the name Chidi Cali.

The post garnered 1,700 comments and 1,000 shares in 24 hours.

However, careful observation of the video showed no evidence that the audio was added to the video as the conspiracies suggested.

Private Matthew was clearly seen responding to the commands of the voice of a man who appeared to be the leader of the armed men. Also, the ambience of the video confirmed that it had not been edited. A synchronisation of movements and sounds was clearly defined.

Pte Matthew joined the Nigerian Army in 2019 and Warrant Officer Audu recently retired, according to the family source.

“The leader of the armed men ordered that they be shot for being Hausa, their enemies. They were killed in front of Gloria’s 10-year-old daughter and her mother. They even wanted to kill the daughter, claiming that she was born by a Hausa father, but her grandmother pleaded with them, explaining that Gloria gave birth to her before joining the army,” the family member said.

Army spokesperson, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, had earlier confirmed the murder of the soldiers.

Gen Nwachukwu confirmed what the source told the BBC and said that they were working to bring the killers to justice.  -BBC

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