Claim: A video with men in military uniform is circulating on social media, narrating that Boko Haram has arrived in Tamale, Ghana.
False. The evidence so far shows the video is a military simulation exercise. Authorities have also stated that the claims in the video are false and should be disregarded.
A video circulating on WhatsApp cautions Ghanaians that Boko Haram has allegedly arrived in Tamale in Ghana, claiming that the terrorist group has attacked some women on a farm and that soldiers are searching for them with a helicopter. In the 47-second video, the narrator is heard speaking Twi (a Ghanaian native language), which is translated to English below:
“Family and friends, I plead with you to listen to these words and take heed. Boko Haram is in Ghana, and they are in Tamale. They have ambushed some women working on a farm, destroyed them and cut them up. When it happened, the soldiers were called. Here are the soldiers… they arrived and are in the bush. There is a helicopter in the air, aggressively looking for them. That’s the helicopter in the air. So I plead with you, as they’ve arrived in Tamale, let’s be careful and share this video everywhere that Boko Haram is in Ghana and they are in Tamale. The same way they have arrived in Tamale is the same way they can go anywhere. So let’s share this video with all our relatives, so everyone knows that Boko Haram has arrived.”
The video was identified as a Tiktok video watermarked with the username @kulmestarofficial. Therefore, DUBAWA traced the video to its source on TikTok and found it on the Tiktok account of kulmerstarofficial. At the time of the investigation, the video had 3567 likes, 159 comments and 541 shares. The same video has also been posted on YouTube and other social platforms.
Assessing the TikTok interactions
The video was posted on TikTok on 6 August 2022, after suspected Boko Haram members in Nigeria were reported to have been involved in a jailbreak in July 2022. Ghanaian security personnel were on high alert on account of that jailbreak.
Following this report, this video was posted to “caution Ghanaians” on Boko Haram’s arrival and their alleged brutality in Tamale.
Even though some comments on the Tiktok video show people believed the story, most suggest otherwise. They describe the video as false and ask the creator to desist from spreading fear among the people. Most commenters who disprove the claims in the video either state that they are residents of Tamale or claim to be soldiers who have not received such information.
When one of the commenters asked the creator of the video where he got the video, he said he saw it in a group and decided to post it, as seen below:
The Sheila Nelson debunk
One comment that states the claims in the video to be false also provides some context to the video. ‘Sheila Nelson’, the commenter, noted that the video was originally part of a simulation exercise in which she was a part of providing medical cover.
Who is Sheila Nelson?
Going through the TikTok profile of Sheila Nelson (who debunked the video), she is identified as a medic with the Ghana National Ambulance Service, and there is evidence of her association with the Ghana Armed Forces. Several videos on her profile show activities and simulation exercises where she is seen wearing the uniform of the National Ambulance Service among a team or groups of people. In one post, she reveals that she works with the Ghana National Ambulance Service; in another, she is seen at one of their stations at Dormaa-Ahenkro. This explains her commentary and the attestation about the simulation exercise on the viral Tamale video.
The Interior Minister’s public address
DUBAWA spoke to authorities at the Ghana Armed Forces to enquire if they had received such information concerning Boko Haram in Tamale. The specific video was played to the military officers who identified the same video, whose content has officially been debunked.
They referred DUBAWA to the official statement made by the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, who debunked the claims made in the video making the rounds.
In a 35-second video posted on Facebook by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation on 15 August 2022, Ambrose Dery is seen and heard making the following remarks at an event attended by Ghanaian security personnel.
“We live in a region which is volatile and prone to extremist activities. Our neighbours have been attacked variously. But let me make it clear that those footages that are on videos and on platforms that extremists have attacked any part of Ghana are false. They are false and should be disregarded,” Dery said.
News outlets such as Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and GhanaWeb have also reported Dery’s address, assuring the public that Ghana is safe and that the public should disregard the claims in the video.
The news reports further reminded citizens of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign recently launched by the Ministry of National Security as part of its “border counter-terrorism strategy aimed at sensitising the public to terrorism threats and encouraging the citizenry to collaborate with state security agencies to reduce the threat of terrorism in the country.”
Citizens are required to call the toll-free number 999 swiftly “to report suspicious activities to state security authorities or use the emergency contacts and social media platforms of the Ghana Police Service to draw the attention of state agencies to unusual activities within their communities.”
“Where mobile connectivity is a challenge, locals are to report suspicious activities to their local police, traditional leaders, opinion leaders, heads of faith-based organisations and leaders of political parties who could expedite action to arrest any threat of terrorism attack situation,” as stated at the launch.
Verifying keyframes in the video
The video shows military personnel, bystanders, and a flying helicopter merged with three still images of military personnel to narrate the claims. Even though the location of the video can not be identified yet, using the InVid debunker, the video was analysed using keyframes and screenshots to provide other appearances of the footage online. The helicopter in the footage was noted in other reports online during this analysis.
The InVid tool traced the source of the helicopter in the video to a similar aircraft with the “COVID-19” inscription in a news report on the Ghana Armed Forces web page.
In the news report by the Ghana Armed Forces posted on 29 June 2022, the event was a simulation drill at the Daboya Training Camp for the Northern Command of the Ghana Army with support from the Ghana Air Force and the US Army. It was held on 27 June 2022 in readiness and preparation for threats of violent extremism.
“The simulation exercise as part of EX AFRICAN LION 2022 sought to, among other things, improve the Northern Command’s ability to plan and conduct counter-violent extremist operations, improve air to-ground integration between the Army and the Airforce, react to complex ambush operations, counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and MEDEVAC operations. The drill simulated various scenarios, including an attack on a military base by extremists, air fire support by the Ghana AirForce and neutralising of IEDs by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team,” the GAF news report read.
The video purporting that Boko Haram is in Tamale (Ghana) is unsubstantiated. Authorities, including the Interior Minister, have stated the claims to be false and should be disregarded. Images in the video, such as the helicopter, provide evidence of a recent simulation exercise for the Northern Command of the Ghana Army, which included MEDEVAC drills (the emergency evacuation of the sick or wounded from a combat area to a hospital in a helicopter or plane). This is corroborated by a comment on the Tiktok video making the claims, which confirmed the footage to be a simulation exercise.