Aftermath of Kogi, Bayelsa polls :African professionals in US seek sanctions on Nigerian govt for death of democracy
* Demand review Nigeria’s half billion dollar Tucano jet order
By Steve Oko
Piqued by the wide violence and irregularities that characterised last Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, African professionals in the United States of America have written to the US government seeking severe actions over what they called “death of democracy in Nigeria”.
Below is the full text of the petition made available to Wawa News Global :
“Dear Secretary Pompeo,
“As a coalition of professionals of African descent in the US (the Diaspora) and abroad, we write to engage with you regarding an issue that should be of great interest to the United States concerning its significant partner in Africa, Nigeria.
This weekend, shambolic state elections were held in one northern and one southern state that were anything but free and fair and, to many observers, could spell the death of democracy in Africa’s most populous nation. Viral videos depict voters being shot at, with several killed, in Kogi state and ballot boxes stolen. Another video shows a helicopter strafing voters with gas to disperse them. Yet, Nigeria has a half a billion dollar aircraft order despite reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights advocates that in December 2016, Airforce jets bombed Christian communities in the north as they fended off attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
“On Saturday, Rev Fr Simeon Omale, in the north central Kogi State, reportedly lamented, “Alfa from Ejule and his boys just came to Ofakaga (polling unit on the field of St. Pius catholic church). On seeing me standing by the church, one of his boys …came to slap me asking me to kneel down. I didn’t, so he slapped me and picked a stone and hit me.
They said my presence is not allowing them to do what they want. They left with further threat to come back for me. God is my strength and I shall stand with his people. I’m off to the chapel and Altar to offer prayers. God will vindicate and free this land.”
“The situation was not much different in the southern Bayelsa state where even police men were killed. Bayelsa is in the Niger Delta oil-producing region where US oil companies helped make Nigeria, America’s top African trade partner for decades.
Needless to say, both states were “won” by General Buhari’s ruling party in consolidation of his equally dubious “re-election” by “Massive, consistent, and comprehensive, deliberate manipulation and distortion preceded, attended, and followed the Nigerian Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019, and gubernatorial elections of March 9, 2019.” (Options for Africa and Nigeria Moves into a ‘Post-Democratic’ Phase” in issue 4/2019 of Defense & Foreign Affairs (D&FA) Strategic Policy magazine)
“IRI President, Daniel Twining, also said, “The 2019 general elections fell significantly short of the standard set in 2015. Citizens’ confidence in elections was shaken,” and the joint report with NDI said, “While observers noted few cases of overt vote-buying, they reported that less visible forms of voter coercion such as the distribution of gift items may have tainted the process.” Nigeria’s government has been accused of using looted funds repatriated looted from abroad for vote-buying but the US is about to return almost half a billion in “Abacha loot” back to Nigeria.
“Secretary Pompeo, besides the militarization of Nigeria’s elections which claimed almost 100 lives this year alone (the Election agency claims dozens of its staff were abducted during election duty this weekend), Nigeria was already wracked with violence on two terror fronts considered in the top 4 deadliest globally – killer Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram ISIS.
“During the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom which you hosted in July, a church leader said his denomination alone lost over 10,000 Christians out of the 48,000 victims they have documented so far (They call this figure conservative and not including the Fulani herdsmen massacres which in some years exceeded the Boko Terrorists.) ISIS recently bragged about its strong Africa flank.
“Nigeria is currently one of the top humanitarian situations globally with millions displaced and potential for seismic global impact if the nation implodes from a multiplicity of striations.
“Much must be done urgently to stop the rapid downward spiral of what was once a key emerging democracy. Like he did in his first military coup in 1983, General Buhari has once again shut down Nigeria’s democratic aspirations as D&FA stated “through manipulation of the electoral, military, and administrative processes, achieved the effect of a coup d’etat, institutionalizing corruption to a degree unseen before even in Nigeria.”
“Just on Friday, Nigeria’s Supreme Court validated his faux re-election of which Council Foreign Relations remarked (18 March): “Nigeria’s latest presidential election cycle has been bad news for democracy in Africa (and) across the continent.”
“This was predictable as in a March editorial in D&FA issue 2/2019 entitled “Democracy as Farce is the Prelude to Tyranny”, the president of the International Strategic Studies Association, Gregory Copley, commented that Buhari, “knowing the electorate had turned against him, could only sustain power by the direct, deliberate, and planned manipulation of voting mechanisms (and) knowing …that those defrauded would seek redress in the courts, Buhari unilaterally, unconstitutionally, and pre-emptively replaced the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
“Religious Freedom Advocates note that ousted Chief Justice Samuel Onnoghen was the first Southern Christian to head the Judiciary in three decades but General Buhari replaced him with a northern Muslim sharia judge further exacerbating religious division in the country.
“Mr. Secretary, Nigerians find themselves hostage to an autocrat who supervises their slaughter, without empathy or action, and who has re-elected himself by guns and fraud despite the wishes of a suppressed electorate.
“It is imperative that the US does not allow Nigeria fall into full blown dictatorship and a virile breeding ground for global terror in Africa. Yesterday, further videos emerged of a female political activist Mrs Acheju Abuh murdered in her home during victory celebrations in Kogi state.
“We urge you to:
1. Investigate the use of Airforce jets and helicopters in attacks on Christians and voters in Taraba state and Kogi state in 2016 and last weekend respectively and then review Nigeria’s half a billion dollar Tucano jet order (pursuant to the Leahy Amendment)
2. Investigate the vote-buying and corruption allegations and review the transfer of the half billion dollar “Abacha loot”
3. Investigate the election violence and rigging, religious discrimination and unconstitutional abuse of the Judiciary and bar all perpetrators from the US by the revocation of their visas.
4.Target the assets of all actors involved in the subversion of democracy in Nigeria, political violence, corruption and religious discrimination.
“We thank you for your efforts for justice and freedom of religion in our world.
US DIASPORA PROFESSIONALS
Barrister Emmanuel Ogebe
US NIGERIA LAW GROUP
Emmanuel Emenyonu, Ph.D
President, Africa United for Peace, CO, USA