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Why the world should worry about Nigeria’s shambolic elections ~ by Emmanuel Ogebe

Polls invoke horrors of Nigeria’s top human rights crisis, warns rights expert

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You’ve probably received an email from a Prince in Nigeria trying to get lots of money out and needing just a bit of yours first. What you probably don’t know is the deadly side of a laughable e-mail.

For years, Nigeria’s police ostensibly trying to stop advance fee fraud (also known as 419) have profiled innocent young Nigerians for kidnap, torture, extortion and murder simply for owning an iPhone or laptop.

In October 2020, after one too many police brutality deaths, Nigeria’s youth again peacefully protested.

At first the Nigerian government headed by a ruthless, deposed ex-military dictator Gen Buhari, arranged Muslim militias to violently attack the protesters claiming they were troublesome infidels.

Yet the protesters were Muslim, Christian and others who took turns watching each other’s backs when they prayed at Lekki tollgate turned #EndSARs’ shrine in Lagos state.

Finally on October 20, 2020, after shutting their internet and bank accounts didn’t cripple the protests, the army cut out the lights and massacred scores of dancing protesters in cold blood at Lekki.

The author, Emmanuel Ogebe with President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Ambassador Mark Green, of the US observer mission
The author, Emmanuel Ogebe with President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Ambassador Mark Green, of the US observer mission

On February 25, 2023, Nigeria’s youth turned up to vote out the regime who squelched their #EndSARs protest against brutality with more brutality.

However scores of young poll workers were assaulted, kidnapped and intimidated for refusing to rig in favor of certain politicians.

Again the IT portal for election result upload was mysteriously shut down for only presidential results – not other parliamentary races.

Over 96 hours later, a president-elect was announced – Bola Tinubu a former Governor of Lagos state who made himself tax-collection consultant for the state and operated the very Lekki Tollgate where the 102020 massacre occurred!

It’s almost inconceivable that there could be any worse outcome but there is.

Before the #EndSARs global campaign, Nigerian youths had also gained attention in another global campaign #Bringbackourgirls.

In April 2014, Nigeria’s federal education ministry asked the governor of terror-ridden Borno state not to allow students stay in remote areas for security reasons. The governor refused to heed the advise and almost 300 Schoolgirls were abducted by jihadi terror group Boko Haram leading in part to the defeat of the President then the next year.

Nine years later, 96 of those Chibok schoolgirls remain missing in the world’s longest-running mass abduction. And the Gov who’s arrogance and recklessness caused this? Gov Shettima is now VP-elect!

But it only gets worse.

On May 28, 1969, Bruce Mayrock, an American 20 year old Columbia University student, set himself ablaze in front of the UN to draw attention to the Biafran genocide in southeast Nigeria.

More than half a century after Mayrock’s death and that of over one million Igbo people, Nigeria’s South East is still politically marginalized leading to a resurgence of separatist demands.

A widely popular secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu was illegally abducted abroad and detained by the Nigerian government for years now.

A former governor, Peter Obi, from southeast who was a surprising third-party favorite to win the presidential election given his erudition, record and integrity, had his votes massively stolen and his Labor Party supporters beaten, wounded and even killed.

In Lagos state, Tinubu’s mafiosi were recorded on video destroying ballots and injuring innocent Obi voters in front of security officers. This played out in multiple states including Shettima’s Borno state where Christians were brazenly disallowed to vote (Tinubu and Shettima are both Muslims in defiance of the country’s historical efforts at balancing.)

Biafra was the earliest and biggest global human rights campaign from Nigeria with Brock’s self-immolation as a human hashtag but even now the Igbo people are still suppressed in Nigeria. The Igbos are not allowed to LEAVE Nigeria and they are not allowed to LEAD Nigeria.

In one election and in one day, Nigeria was able to revive the horrors of its three most globally visible human rights concerns of over half a century.

This election outcome could not be any worse for the unity, history and future of the country and it’s the government’s fault.

Nigeria’s governments have tended to be the country’s chiefest organized crime syndicate.

A Nigerian socialite known as “Hush puppi” was convicted by the US for laundering money for North Korean internet scammers. USA requested extradition of Nigeria’s super cop after discovering that he was paid to punish a whistleblower. Nigeria refused.

It gets worse. While under investigation, super cop Abba Kyari was caught in a drug smuggling sting operation. For years, he himself had been part of police brutality atrocities against innocent Nigerians while allegedly involved with the real scammers!

Many years ago, a US anti-scam group called the Nigerian government the biggest scammer and its citizens the biggest victims. It appears that nothing has changed since and Nigeria’s youth remain hopelessly entrapped in a crime colony unable to break their shackles through free and fair elections.

In Lagos state, about 235 petitions were filed before a special #EndSARs Tribunal concerning 74 people murdered by police, 44 tortured and others jailed, extorted, shot and missing in captivity. 42 of these had obtained court judgments against Nigeria’s government but not a single one had been paid compensation!

Yet USA continues to repatriate hundreds of millions of dollars stolen by an ex-military dictator to the Nigerian regime that doesn’t obey court orders to compensate citizens it brutalized.

I have recommended to a US court and government that some of the Abacha loot being forfeited by the Department of Justice be used to compensate victims across the country. This is more urgent now after the travesty of an “election.”

International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe with head of US Observer delegation, Her Excellency Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi
International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe with head of US Observer delegation, Her Excellency Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi

In the meantime, thousands of Nigerians have been fleeing Nigeria for years by sea, land and air – many perishing in the Sahara desert or drowning in the Atlantic en route Europe.

The 2023 presidential elections were a breath of hope that the nation could be salvaged and misgovernance turned around thus halting mass exodus and even inspiring returns.

But then hope was killed and the world will continue to feel the destabilizing impact of mass displacement of millions of Nigeria’s 200 million people just like it did during the Biafra civil war of 1967-1970 and Gen. Buhari’s ruinous tenure.

Next weekend, Nigeria’s citizens are faced with the prospect of another traumatic electoral heist to decide who their new looters and abusers will be in gubernatorial elections. It’s anyone’s guess if they’ll show up or just flee the nightmare of a heartbreak country. Read more.

Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq. is a Washington-based International human rights lawyer and reports for Diaspora Election Monitoring Observatory (DEMO) and Peace Polls 2015 Project.


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