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Christoph Koettl @ckoettl
, 22 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
#Nigeria’s military used a speech by Donald Trump to justify shooting at protesters in October. We investigated what happened and uncovered that an elite battalion fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed marchers.
The military @HQNigerianArmy made several questionable claims:

1. The marchers blocked traffic.
2. The marchers attacked a military checkpoint with weapons and rocks.
3. Only 3 people were killed.
We reviewed hundreds of videos and pictures, went to the crime scene in #Abuja, interviewed survivors and talked to the military. Here’s how we did it - and what we found out.
First, we scoured social media for all available visual evidence of the episode on Oct. 29. We found dozens of clips, from 4 different angles.
Next, @ea_akin was on the ground, visiting and filming at the crime scene, interviewing survivors - and and gathered previously unseen videos,
This open-source investigation had an unusual twist: The ground footage we filmed after the shooting gave us our own “streetview” to examine — extremely useful for reconstructing events. Regular pics, extraordinarily useful!
For example, the footage we captured 2 weeks after the violence showed that this checkpoint is typically on the side of a road. This suggests that the soldiers moved barricades to block the October march.
I was also able to confirm this in satellite images going back to 2014.
Before they reached the checkpoint, the marchers encountered police officers moving across the street. But the officers quickly stepped aside as the crowd arrived.
The military then blocked traffic and the march: Videos showed traffic flowing freely until soldiers sealed the road.
The military started shooting. Designated members of the march were tasked with controlling traffic. They wore bright vests, easy to spot throughout the videos. As they approached the military — unarmed — soldiers shot at them at close range.
The protesters did not attack the checkpoint. We see several protesters throw rocks at the soldiers in response to the shooting. Notice that most of the soldiers who fired their machine guns did not take cover. There’s no indication that they were being fired at.
A battlefield weapon was used. We see a victim with his leg completely blown off, indicating the use of a heavy machine gun. At the same location, we hear loud gun fire and see a gun truck with a .50-caliber gun. Such weapons are normally reserved for wars — not to police crowds
The presidential guard, an elite unit of the Nigerian Army, was responsible. Throughout the massacre, we see vehicles and soldiers from the Guards Brigade — normally tasked with protecting the president and the capital Abuja
I talked to @SecForceMonitor and other experts to map out the Guards Brigade structure and its chain of command. Its commander reports directly to the top military command and the president’s office — a short line to the head of state.
Another unexpected and helpful piece of research: Recent celebrity Instagram posts and reports of sports competitions. I used these to confirm the structure and the name of commanders of the Guards Brigade.
The military killed more than 3 people. Witnesses told us 39 were killed, and we counted at least 2 dozen bodies in verified pictures and videos.
Overall, the @HQNigerianArmy story just doesn’t hold up. Our conclusion is clear: Soldiers from the presidential guard blocked the marchers’ path and opened fire on an unarmed crowd. Some of the injuries indicate the use of a high-caliber machine gun.
No one was punished for the killings. It’s a familiar pattern of impunity for the Nigerian military. Two days before, they killed several members of the same group. In 2015, they killed nearly 350.
The full visual investigation, and the article by @dionnesearcey @ea_akin, can be found here:…
This was a massive team effort by @ea_akin @dionnesearcey @tiefenthaeler @bottidavid @whitney_hurst @malachybrowne & Natalie Reneau. Special thanks to @hrw @amnesty @aniewang @Brian_Castner @johnismay for sharing footage & expertise
Only one thing left to say: If you have tips on what our next visual investigation should be, we want to hear from you! Reply here, or send us info confidentially via
More from us:…
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