A Nigerian blog in a news report claimed that a Russian aircraft carrying Wagner fighters had landed in Niger.
The report was published as breaking news with the tag, “A Russian aircraft carrying hundreds of Wagner fighters has landed in Niamey, the capital of Niger.”
CDD War Room ran a check to verify the authenticity of the claim.
The news report circulated through the Opera news app and was traced to have originated from the blog “awardnobs“. Upon investigation, the blog in question appears to exhibit characteristics of ‘clickbait content’. The initial headline promises a substantial story, but upon clicking, only a brief description is provided with a link to continue reading.
This behaviour is often indicative of websites aiming to generate traffic through sensational headlines while offering minimal substantive content. Furthermore, attempting to access the complete story leads users to a page filled with intrusive ads.
This news story was also seen in other blogs with the same headline.
CDD War Room further tracked the airplane used in the picture posted on the site. We tracked from August 19, 2023, till August 21, 2023, a day prior and a day after the story was published.
On August 19, 2023, the aircraft was traced to have left an unknown location close to Dayr `Ali in Syria at 0.05 UTC and arrived 03;13 UTC at an unknown location close to Libya.
On August 20, 2023, the aircraft was traced to an unknown location close to Qaryat al Bayda in Libya where it departed at 07:35 UTC and arrived at 10:28 UTC at an unknown location close to Mayda ‘a and Al Bahhariyah.
On August 21, 2023, the aircraft was traced to an unknown location in Aktau Aktay of Kazakhstan where it departed at 02:35 UTC and arrived at 05:17 UTC at Starkovo, Russia.
Using a reverse image search we found the exact image describing the image as an emergency plane. It was published in May 13, 2023.
Further enquiry through advanced search indicate that no credible media carried the news report.
This is however not the first time it has been alleged that Wagner fighters have landed in Niger. CDD War Room had on August 8, 2023, fact-checked a claim that the Wagner group had confirmed the presence of its armed/combat division in the Niger Republic.
The Wagner group officially known as “PMC Wagner” is a private military company controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. Since it was founded in 2014, Wagner forces have been active in Africa and the Middle East– having grown from about 5,000 to 25,000 troops.
Verdict: No Evidence
Although the craft was traced close to other African countries, there is no evidence to show the plane arrived in Niger with Wagner fighters on board.