MISINFORMATION The false rumor about the Nigerian restaurant selling human flesh – Complete Report – Bufale.net
Last March 14th 2014 our attention was captured by a bunch of posts on the Italian press, referring to a Nigerian restaurant selling human flesh as meal. Suspicions about this articles arose since the most popular among them did not report any original photo about what happened, using as featured image another one, previously used in a different fake news about a London butcher (source 2012).
This time the news referred of a Nigerian restaurant and was our duty to check the reported story. Searching the net, it has been easy to find few articles about the topic, published on various international newspaper websites:
- Mirror (“Cops shut down restaurant for selling HUMAN flesh“, 12 February 2014);
- Independent (“Cannibal restaurant ‘with roasted human heads on the menu’ shut down by police”, 12 February 2014);
- International Business Times (“Nigeria: Restaurant Served Roasted Human Heads”, February 7, 2014).
All of them contain the same information, also reported by the Italian press:
“Anambra – human heads wrapped in cellophane and stored in a friged. In the state that is home to the majority of the Nigerian population it was discovered the shocking activity of a restaurant selling human flesh and organs as food to unaware guests. The owner and his staff, counting a dozen of people, were well aware: all 11 responsible for this massacre were arrested by the Nigerian police. The officers led a raid inside the place following a tip-off fueling suspects on the ambiguous business ran in the restaurant. On site were found two AK-47 rifles and 40 firearms magazines too.”
(source – Catena umana, original article here)
As we can easily notice, none of the above mentioned sites reports the core information: the name of the restaurant. We have a name of a region in Nigeria, Anambra, but the exact location is not specified. Here we have already two classic “fake news hooks,” but it’s worth going over.
Most sites credit as their source the Nigerian site “Osun Defender newspaper“, which mentions itself Naijazip.com as a source, this site is however not available at the moment. Therefore we did a research based on the link URL resending to Naijazip.com: http://www.naijazip.com/2013/08/hotel-selling-cooked-human-meat-found.html#.Uf5KHqwzKZc
We found this new link http://www.naijazip.blogspot.it/2013/08/hotel-selling-cooked-human-meat-found.html#.Uf5KHqwzKZc
Basically we are talking about a site hosted on Blogspot nowadays and previously associated with a .com domain. The article, written in August 2013, is titled “Hotel Selling Cooked Human Meat Found In Onitsha As Police Arrests 11 With Fresh Human Heads“.
Once again, a new “source” is credited – site Naijaloaded.com.ng, without providing the correct url though. Last year few debunking sites could not find the original article, perhaps because the story was reported later, i.e. on 8th of February 2014, with the following title: “Hotel Selling Cooked Human Meat Found In Anambra State, Police Arrests 11 With Fresh Human Heads“.
Naijaloaded.com.ng is a site owned by Makinde Azeez. Created in 2009 as a Forum and later on turned into a blog, is widely read in Nigeria (more than 500,000 readers). However many users complained (among the 111 comments) that the news does not report the name of the restaurant, not to forget the fact that many pointed out the story to be old and already published in 2013.
The first site to publish the news was the Dailyindependentnig.com, exactly 1 August 2013, with an article entitled “Police arrest 11, recover two fresh human heads in Onitsha.”
Not a restaurant then, but a hotel, as already specified in the other Nigerian sites at the time. The sources reported to support the “human flesh” thing seem to be a cop (anonymous) and a priest who reported about eating flesh and paying high prices.
Hotel name was “Upper Class Hotel”, located at No. 8 Old Market Road, Onitsha. We refer to the past as the building was demolished within 48 hours after the arrests following the order of Anambra Governor Peter Obi.
Was the human flesh history actual? Article of August 1st, 2013, is written in a hurry, very imprecise, and does not check source authenticity – it is simply sensationalist. The site Vanguardngr.com however, the same day, published a different report of the facts and few days later provided a new, well-structured article to support its version. Published on 10th August 2013, is entitled “How human heads were concealed in Onitsha hotel room – Suspect“:
- the police had intervened after a tip-off made by suspicious people about traffics in the area);
- the police found 3 skulls in a hotel room (not two);
- the police found two AK47, firearms magazines, a military cap and mobile phones.
No word about “kitchens”, “restaurants” or “meat sold” no news. From what we read from other sites reposting the news on August 2, tip-offs concerned the alleged sale of human flesh, but this claim has been subsequently discarded by the authority.
There’s a video on Youtube filmed via mobile and published the 3rd of August 2013 showing two skulls, guns, cell phones and arrested people. Publication date and few details suggest the video to be original.
Later on site Ireport.cnn.com published a chilling story revealing all the background features and events subsequent to the arrest, mentioning even Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). The article, published on January 26th, 2014, reports the following title: “Human Heads Saga at Upper Class Hotel: Startling Revelations Emerge“.
Reported facts are partly true (no sale of human flesh), wrongly widespread even by Nigerian media and turned into a fake (hotel changed to human-flesh-selling restaurant).
Original article in Italian by David Puente: link (3 january 2015)
Translated by Tiziano Marasco