26 September 2023

Misleading: Videos of clashing guards and crying man falsely linked to Niger’s coup

One shows the secret police clashing with prison officials in Nigeria; another features a sobbing ex-justice minister in Niger in 2021. They are unrelated to the recent political crisis.


Two videos circulated on Chinese social media after the recent coup in Niger with claims that one shows Niger’s soldiers and the other the country’s finance minister crying on camera.

The first video in question, which was posted on Douyin on July 30, shows a chaotic scene where a group of masked troops dragged a uniformed man out of a building.

Overlay text in Chinese claimed the clip shows Niger and the country’s president was held by “unidentified forces.”

The second clip showing a crying man has gone viral all over the internet. It was shared with the claim that he is Niger’s finance minister facing possible execution.

Both videos have picked up thousands of engagements as of this writing.

However, we found the claims misleading.

The two clips have nothing to do with the ongoing political crisis in Niger, which made headlines around the world after the soldiers in the West African country declared a coup on national television on July 26 and overthrew a democratically elected government. Niger President Mohamed Bazoum was reportedly held by presidential guards in the capital of Niamey.

The first clip shows secret police from another country, Nigeria, not Niger

The Douyin video with red overlay text in Chinese reads when translated to English:

“This is Niger,” “Sudden coup hits Africa’s Republic of the Niger,” “As of tonight, at least five military uprisings have taken place in the mid-western region of Africa,” and “Niger’s president and his guards are being held by unidentified armed troops.”

It carried two watermarks. One says “双皮奶 xdk1001” clearly, and the other one, partially visible, implies it could be television news footage.

One part of the video shows a camera crew in a blue vest that says “HANNELS” and another partially readable watermark “Television”.

The clip also contained a number of other visual clues, such as the uniforms worn by different guards.

Visible letters “DSS” and “NCos” on the uniforms of clashing guards.

Keyword searches of the visual clues “DSS” and “NCoS” led us to this original news footage posted by “Channels Television,” a broadcaster from the neighboring country Nigeria on YouTube on July 25, with the title “DSS, Prison Officials Clash at Lagos Court Over Emefiele’s Custody.”

Comparison of the original footage (upper left) and the Douyin video (bottom left); and additional context from AP over the clashing incident outside a Nigerian court house involving suspended central bank governor Godwin Emefiele (bottom right).

The Douyin video in question appeared to be a cropped version from Channels Television’s clip filmed outside the Federal High Court in Lagos.

According to AP, a correctional service officer was dragged by the secret police of the Department of State Services on July 25 during a hearing with Godwin Emefiele, the country’s suspended Central Bank Governor, who was reportedly accused of illegal possession of a firearm and live ammunition.

This video is, therefore, irrelevant to the coup in Niger.

Weeping man footage is old; it does not show Niger’s ex-finance minister

The second clip in question, which was widely shared on Weibo (here and here), a Chinese website Utopia, and Douyin at the end of July, gained thousands of engagements and shows a man weeping on camera.

All these posts similarly claimed this was Niger’s finance minister Ahmat Jidoud who could be executed by the military within 48 hours if he could not account for suspected embezzlement after the Bazoum administration was overthrown by the military.

Similar claims have gone viral on the internet in multiple languages, too, on YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter.

But as far as Annie Lab could tell, there is no reported evidence suggesting Jidoud was accused of embezzlement in the first place.

Our investigation also revealed that the man crying on camera is not Jidoud, but the former minister of justice Marou Amadou.

We found the clip was posted as early as 2021, about two years before the coup.

Image search led to the same clips uploaded to Facebook on Dec. 27, 2021, by the user account First Niger.

It identified the crying man in a caption as Marou Amadou, who is also occasionally referred to as Morou Amadou.

The clip was subsequently reposted by other Facebook users (here and here).

The video in question (left) shared numerous identical features to the Facebook video (right) uploaded on Dec.27, 2021.

We found another Facebook video posted a few days later by AC Media El Maestro TV, identifying Amadou as Niger’s former minister of Justice as well as the President of CERCASH, a pan-Africa think tank on climate research.

Keyword searches eventually led us to a high-resolution news video posted on YouTube by Medi1TV Afrique, reporting on the launch of CERCASH, or Le Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Climat en Afrique et la Sécurité Humaine, in Niamey on Dec. 27, 2021.

The video in question (upper left) shares identical features to other clips found on the internet that features Amadou speaking at the same event from different camera angles.

Amadou and other speakers were seen delivering speeches at the same conference from different camera angles.

A report by Agence Nigérienne De Presse identified Amadou as Niger’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, a then-new appointment he received earlier that month after stepping down from a decade of ministership from 2011 to 2021.

While we could not exactly conclude what drove Amadou to tears, ANP reported that he began the inauguration ceremony with prayers and remembrance of South African archbishop Desmond Tutu.

He also paid tribute to Niger’s former heads of state, including Issoufou Mahamadou “for whom he was full of praise”, according to the ANP report translated by machine.

Niger’s ex-finance minister Ahmat Jidoud (left) and its former justice minister Marou Amadou (right).

The viral claim was also debunked by a number of fact-checking organizations, including the Fact Check Hub, AFP, The Observers and Fact-Check Ghana.

United Nations officials warned that the Niger crisis could worsen insecurity throughout West Africa.

The political crisis was met with large-scale pro-coup protests in Niamey since the elected government was overthrown on July 26. European nationals were also evacuated from Niger as West African juntas warned of intervention.