Blast from the Past: Social Media Image of Nigerian Explosion Actually a 10-Year-Old Photo of Shopping Plaza Attack

Abuja, Nigeria – An accidental explosion in an upscale neighborhood of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, on January 24, 2024, left two people injured. Shortly after the incident, a misleading image surfaced on social media, falsely claiming to depict the recent blast. In reality, the photo is from a 2014 bomb attack in the capital that resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people.

The misleading post, which erroneously linked the explosion to the anniversary of the Ikeja cantonment bomb blast, was widely shared on social media platforms, garnering over 70 shares. The image depicted bystanders observing cars engulfed in flames and billows of dark smoke emanating from a business complex.

Contrary to the false claims, local news reports indicated that the explosion in Maitama was caused by an overheated metal refuse container, resulting in the injury of two individuals. However, the circulated photo does not depict this incident and did not occur on the anniversary of the Ikeja disaster.

Upon conducting a reverse image search, it was discovered that the photo originated from the Associated Press archives and captured the aftermath of a bombing at the Emab Plaza, a shopping complex in Abuja, in June 2014. The attack, which was suspected to be carried out by Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants, resulted in the loss of over 20 lives.

Nigerian police confirmed that the explosion in Maitama was indeed caused by an overheated metal refuse bin. This revelation contradicts the false assertions linking it to a bomb-related incident.

The article also highlighted Nigeria’s ongoing struggle with insecurity, which has resulted in an increase in kidnappings, explosions, and killings within the country. Despite President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to addressing these issues, critics argue that the prevailing violence remains uncontrolled.