FACT CHECK: Was Buhari arrested in UK by INTERPOL to answer allegations of war crimes?


A video has gone into circulation, which appears to show President Muhammadu Buhari, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, APC national leader Bola Tinubu, and Festus Keyamo, Buhari’s re-election campaign spokesperson, being ushered into a police van in the United Kingdom.

“Buhari in Black Maria, London Nightmare,” says the caption on the video, which is copyrighted by one Emmanuel Uche.

Accompanying it also is an explanatory note, stating that the video was blocked by the federal government to prevent Nigerians from having access. It further claims Buhari was arrested by the INTERPOL, acting on a warrant of the International Criminal Court, before his eventual release on bail.

“International Criminal Court ICC warrant raised against General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd),” it said.

“The Interpol arrested him briefly during one of his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Buhari was released on bail as lawyers prepare his case at the ICC. It was like a joke when a video showing clips of General Buhari being conveyed to a waiting British Police Armor Criminal Carrier {ACC} to be whisked off, to answer cases of crime against humanity levels against him.”

The ICIR examines the facts to determine if these events truly took place.


The video in question has not just surfaced but is merely recycled. It was first uploaded and shared three years, during Buhari’s pre-election visit to the Chatham House. It was again uploaded two years ago by another YouTube, and then even more recently with similar claims.

In February, 2015, then presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari was at the Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London, to deliver a speech on “Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition”.

He was in the company of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie Oyegun, former APC national chairman, Rotimi Amaechi, then governor of Rivers state, and Adams Oshiomhole, then governor of Edo state.

At the venue also was a crowd of protesters who demonstrated against Buhari’s candidacy and political aspiration. Video evidence, meanwhile, later emerged suggesting that the protesters were paid $20,000 by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to stage the rally.

Another pointer to the age of the video is the reference to Buhari as “General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd)”, a title which was more appropriate three years ago before he was sworn in as Nigeria’s president.


In an emailed response to The ICIR‘s enquiry, the INTERPOL Press Office said the organisation “does not make arrests”, adding that all arrests are made by the police force of a country in compliance with local laws.

A source at the INTERPOL who spoke with The ICIR also confirmed that the claims surrounding the video aren’t true, and said members of the Metropolitan Police Service he spoke to described it as doubtful. A cop who works with the Metropolitan Police also said they do not make arrests using such vehicles.

The vehicle is a Metropolitan Police Mercedes Sprinter Public Order Vehicle (POV) used by the Territorial Support Group (TSG). The TSG is a specialist unit of the Police that maintains public order and addresses riots, disorder, or large scale riots.

A Met Police POV seen in Newport, Wales during the NATO Summit. Photo Credit: Chris’ 999


A look through the records of the International Criminal Court (ICC) also revealed that Buhari is not among the 42 defendants listed to have one case or the other, some of whom are said to be at large and have warrants issued for their arrest.

The ICC case file on Nigeria with respect to “alleged crimes against humanity or war crimes” is still undergoing preliminary investigation and has been open since 2011 — long before Buhari’s presidency.

It is noteworthy also that Buhari was invited to an event held on July 17 at the ICC headquarters in the Netherlands, to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. The event, in fact, featured a keynote speech by Nigeria’s president.

The PDP, which complained to the ICC in May over alleged hate speech by Buhari, has however described the invitation as an indictment on the administration. It also urged Buhari to report himself to the international court over “documented human right abuses, crime against humanity and killings in Nigeria”.

(Left to right) ICC Registrar Mr Peter Lewis, ASP President H.E. O-Gon Kwon, President of Nigeria H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, ICC President Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the high-level commemorations of the Rome Statute’s anniversary on 17 July 2018 ©ICC-CPI


Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who was in May appointed as the Director of Strategic Communications for Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign and was among the 2015 delegation to Chatham House, has also denied the viral claims.

He explained to The ICIR that, as a result of confrontations between pro- and anti-Buhari protesters outside the Chatham House in 2015, the British Police’s help had to be sought to ensure the presidential aspirant’s safety.

“During 2015 campaigns, after Buhari’s address at Chatham House, London, APC and PDP supporters [were] almost fighting outside,” he said. “British Police was called in to take us to safety to prevent any harm befalling him.”


It is not true Buhari was arrested by the International Police based on a warrant issued by the ICC “to answer cases of crimes against humanity leveled against him”. Not only does the INTERPOL not make arrests, the British Police does not deploy the van shown in the video to arrest individuals and Buhari is not under the ICC’s list of wanted persons.

In a nutshell, the circumstances surrounding what happened in the circulated video are much different than have been painted.

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