FALSE: These photos of a network mast on fire in Nigeria are not from 2019

The photo is of an MTN mast in Akwa Ibom in Nigeria that caught fire in December 2015

In Summary

• The post and its accompanying photos allege that the MTN mast was set on fire due to MTN’s South African ownership, and it was shared after reports emerged of Nigerians and other foreigners being attacked in South Africa.

• However, a reverse image search reveals that the photos in the post are from a 2015 fire in Akwa Ibom in Nigeria, not in 2019 as the post claims.

Old photos of burning mast
Old photos of burning mast

Photos published on Facebook purported to be of a fire set by Nigerians on a MTN network mast to retaliate xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in South Africa are FALSE.

The post and its accompanying photos allege that the MTN mast was set on fire due to MTN’s South African ownership, and it was shared after reports emerged of Nigerians and other foreigners being attacked in South Africa.

However, a reverse image search reveals that the photos in the post are from a 2015 fire in Akwa Ibom in Nigeria, not in 2019 as the post claims.

MTN is a South African mobile telecommunications company with a presence in 21 African countries, including Nigeria where it is the largest mobile operator.

Following the recent wave of xenophobic attacks targetting foreigners in South Africa, a number of retaliatory attacks have been reported in Nigeria, including one on an MTN shop in Ibadan that was vandalized. MTN Nigeria temporarily closed all its outlets in the country as a precautionary measure.

In a statement announcing the closure, MTN Nigeria confirmed that the company’s facilities, customers and stakeholders had been the subject of attacks in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobic situation in South Africa, and the attacks had been reported in Lagos, Ibadan and Uyo.

PesaCheck has looked into the claim that a photo of a burning MTN mast in Nigeria is from 2019 and finds it to be FALSE.

This post is part of an ongoing series of PesaCheck fact-checks examining content marked as potential misinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms.

By partnering with Facebook and similar social media platforms, third-party fact-checking organisations like PesaCheck are helping to sort fact from fiction. We do this by giving the public deeper insight and context to posts they see in their social media feeds.

Have you spotted what you think is fake news or false information on Facebook? Here’s how you can report. And, here’s more information on PesaCheck’s methodology for fact-checking questionable content.

This fact-check was written by PesaCheck Researcher James Okong’o, was edited by PesaCheck Deputy Editor Ann Ngengere and was approved for publication by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi.