The husband of popular Nigerian gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu was detained over her sudden death in April, as he faces accusations that he had beaten her and inflicted the fatal wounds. Following his arrest, social media posts have published footage of a man repeatedly hitting a woman with a hot iron as purported proof that Nwachukwu was the victim of domestic abuse leading up to her death. However, the clip is unrelated: it was filmed in Papua New Guinea and shows international rugby player and boxer Debbie Kaore being beaten by her partner.
The claim was published on Facebook on April 13, 2022 — five days after Nwachukwu died in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
“Video of Osinachi’s husband beating her, recorded by their son,” the original caption in the Facebook post read. The author later edited the note to say the clip did not show the alleged scene after all.
More than a million people have viewed the 12-second video on the social network.
Screenshots of the false Facebook post (L) and the edit history
The announcement of Nwachukwu’s death sent shockwaves across Nigeria, sparking strong reactions from the public, including Nigeria’s ex-minister of education Oby Ezekwesili.
The death of Osinachi Nwachukwu of the epic *Ekwueme* worship song really hit hard. To read allegations of spousal abuse worsens the pain.
I hope the truth is unearth and justice given. Everyone, including Churches must take issues of Violence Against Women seriously. Urgently✍ pic.twitter.com/fz50W42EaU
— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) April 9, 2022
With the cause of death yet to be determined, the post gives the impression the singer was killed by her husband, Peter Nwachukwu — an accusation shared by the gospel star’s colleagues and family, as well as members of the public who claim the late singer was a silent victim of domestic violence.
A petition demanding justice for Nwachukwu has received more than 15,000 signatures.
But the video seen on Facebook has nothing to do with Nwachukwu or her husband.
Video from Papua New Guinea
By using the video verification tool InVID WeVerify, AFP Fact Check ran a reverse image search on keyframes from the footage and found the same clip published on the website of British newspaper Daily Mail on June 9, 2020.
The story described a savage assault on international women’s rugby league star Debbie Kaore, allegedly by her partner and Papua New Guinea army lieutenant, Murray Oa.
“The champion female athlete is horrifically beaten with a hot iron by her partner,” one of the video’s captions reads.
Screenshot showing the footage on ABC’s YouTube page
“I am traumatised to have almost lost my life in front of my kids,” Kaore says 27 seconds into the ABC News report.
The story was picked up by other international outlets including the BBC which explained that “the video was posted on TikTok and Instagram by [Kaore's] friend, with permission”.
AFP reported that Kaore allowed the video to be released in the hope “that there won't be another victim after me”.
In 2020, Human Rights Watch said that the country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman or a girl. “More than two-thirds of the women in PNG [Papua New Guinea] are victims of domestic violence,” the international non-governmental organisation said.
Media in Nigeria reported that Nwachukwu’s husband was arrested on April 10, 2022, and has remained in police custody pending further investigations into her death.
Nwachukwu was a popular gospel music singer and well known among Christians even in neighbouring countries. Her serious, powerful and melancholy timbre gave a particular colour to her songs, like “Ekwueme”.
She belonged to a church called “Dunamis International Gospel Center” and had four children, according to Nigerian media.
In Nigeria, 36 percent of married women have experienced emotional, sexual or physical violence by their husbands, according to the country's 2018 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).