IN SHORT: Viral news reports have claimed that, in response to the economic hardship in Nigeria, Abuja residents have invaded a warehouse belonging to the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and carted away several items. However, evidence has emerged that this claim is misleading as the facility raided belongs to another government agency, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA)’s Department of Agriculture.


Consequent upon drastic moves by the Nigerian government to ensure economic prosperity in the country, beginning with the removal of fuel subsidy, the citizens have been plunged into severe economic hardship, which has led to agitation and clamour from the populace online and offline.
In February 2024, protests erupted in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Niger amongst other states, with citizens lamenting how the economic climate has made survival difficult around the country. Similarly, irate youths have also hijacked some of these protests and resorted to waylaying and looting vehicles and invading warehouses for food items and other valuables that are no longer affordable as prices have skyrocketed beyond their purchasing power. This wave of anarchy is dubbed “unprecedented” in Nigeria. In an equally alarming fashion, there has also been a rise of misinformation in the media space.
On Sunday, March 3, 2023, news of residents invading a warehouse belonging to the NEMA spread online, with prominent figures in the political space, including Senator Dino Melaye, Reuben Abati and former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, sharing it on their verified X (formerly Twitter) accounts, which have 3.8 million, 984k and 957k followers, respectively, using the same image and the captions that look like “Residents Invade NEMA Warehouse In Nigeria’s Capital, Loot Foodstuffs, Others Amid Hardship”.
A reverse search of the image in these tweets reveals that it has been in circulation since as far back as October 2020, when Business Day reported the vandalization of a COVID-19 palliative warehouse in Benin city, the capital of Edo State. Similarly, an advanced search on X showed that Sahara Reporters was the first to share the misleading report on the microblogging platform. A CrowdTangle analysis of the keywords, confirms that this finding is accurate.

Snapshot of Sahara Reporters report of the purported looting of a NEMA warehouse

“BREAKING: Residents Invade NEMA Warehouse In Nigeria’s Capital, Loot Foodstuffs, Others Amid Hardship | Sahara Reporters”, Sahara Reporters shared via its verified Facebook and X handles, which, as of the time this report was filed, have over 3.9 million and 5.3 million followers, respectively.
As of the time of filing this report, the Facebook post has garnered over 2.6k reactions, 1k comments and 425 shares. On X, on the other hand, the tweet has 68.6k views, 292 reposts, 19 quotes, 686 likes and 6 bookmarks.
About an hour after the first post, Sahara Reporters shared a 20-second video of the looting scene on social media with the caption, “BREAKING: Residents Invade NEMA Warehouse In Nigeria’s Capital, Loot Foodstuffs, Others Amid Hardship” on Facebook, Instagram and X. And, by the time this report was filed, the video had pooled more than 13.3k views, 485 reactions, 170 comments and 157 shares on Facebook, 30.5k views, 279 likes and 32 comments on Instagram and 175.7k views, 253 comments, 1.2k retweets and 1749 likes on X.

Snapshot of the video shared by Sahara Reporters on Facebook

Other media outlets, including Legit NG, Online Nigeria, Ripples Nigeria, Solace Base, The Punch, National Accord Newspaper, Leadership News, FIJ Nigeria and Vanguard also reported the false information on their respective platforms and shared it via their social media handles. Their reports jointly account for over 2.8k shares across Facebook, as estimated using social media analytics tool, SharedCount, as at when this report was filed.

NEMA discredits links to raided facility
Following the viral reports and widespread videos of people carting away food items from the said warehouse, NEMA, via its official X handle, which has over 151k followers as at when this report was filed, made a tweet to refute claims that its facility was raided.

Snapshot of NEMA’s tweet on its official X page clarifying that the looted warehouse is not one of its facilities as widely claimed

The agency quoted a tweet from Imran Muhammad, an X user with a Twitter Blue badge, which had 51.6k views, 118 reposts, 20 quotes, 503 likes and 7 bookmarks, addressing the widespread rumour in a 3-tweet thread. Entitled “NEMA deny looting of its warehouse on Sunday in Abuja”, and signed by the agency’s press unit, the thread clarified that “the looted warehouse does not belong to NEMA”.
The agency went further to sympathize with those affected by the looting whilst also using the medium to call upon “Zonal Directors and Heads of Operations to strengthen security in and around the Agency’s offices and warehouses nationwide” to prevent the rumour from becoming reality.

FCTA Department of Agriculture lays claims to looted facility
In a report by Channels TV, the Public Relations Officer of the FCTA Agric Secretariat, Zakari Aliyu, confirmed to them in a text message that the looted warehouse belonged to them.
Media platforms like Vanguard have updated their reports linking the facility to NEMA, and correctly ascribed it to the FCTA Department of Agriculture.
Information has come to light that, while a government facility in Karimo, Phase 3 Region of the FCT, Abuja, was, indeed, raided by residents, it does not belong to NEMA as widely purported in viral reports. Thus, the widely circulated reports are misleading.

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