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Why Nigeria Shouldn’t let the US Push It to War in Niger

Opinion and Analysis: On the situation in Niger and its global implications.

By Emmanuel Ogebe

Abuja–The same week that the United States is charging former President Trump with an attempted coup, it is pushing back a military coup in the western country of Niger. This sounds almost consistent except that it isn’t.

Days ago, VP Kamala Harris sparked a Twitter rant like this one, “Let it be on record that the United States Government is indirectly supporting an illegitimate President-Select in Nigeria. @KamalaHarris, your claim of defending democracy in West Africa requires legitimacy, not an illegitimate Government. Your phone chat with BAT is condemned.”  BAT, of course, means Bola  Ahmed Tinubu.

 Harris’ offense? She had simply tweeted, “Today, I spoke with President Tinubu of Nigeria about the strong ties between the Nigerian and American people and our shared work on global and regional issues—from defending democracy in West Africa and the Sahel to promoting digital inclusion and economic growth.”

VP Harris hinted strongly about the recent military coup in the Niger,  Nigeria’s lesser known northern neighbor, but not many Nigerians were impressed by her remarks. Here’s why.

 In my letter to President Biden in May, I stated, “your action is hypocritical and antithetical to America’s democratic ideals.

Nigerian Election of 2023 Failed the Constitutional Test 

“Firstly, as your administration is prosecuting hundreds of insurrectionists who tried to overturn your election win, Nigeria also reports arresting over 700 individuals for election offenses. How then can you accord legitimacy to multi-state election criminality in Nigeria that exceeded even the January 6th levels?

“Secondly, the BBC has exposed a fake election collator, who announced fake election results in Rivers state, falsely granting the ruling party victory over the Labor Party (A “Collator” in Nigeria is similar to an “Elector” in America).

 “Yet, while your administration is investigating for prosecution fake electors who attempted to subvert your election, you’re celebrating the candidate (Tinubu) rigged-in by the fake collator. 

 “Thirdly, Nigeria’s 2023 election violence was deadlier than Gen. Buhari’s military coup 40 years ago; more than the 2019  [Nigerian] elections and even than the Jan 6 [Capital] insurrection – making a mockery of your description of [Bola Tinubu] as a “champion of democracy.” 

“Fourthly, your government announced sanctions on unnamed officials for “undermining democracy” in Nigeria’s  elections, then immediately announced a high-level delegation to the inauguration of the vote-rigger (Tinubu)!”

“Not only did it not meet global or local standards, but it palpably did also not meet constitutional thresholds.  Like the U.S. Constitution on which it was modeled, the Nigerian elections have mandatory thresholds similar to the popular and electoral-college requirements. Candidates must have 25 percent of votes in 24 states and the Capital. Tinubu did not obtain 25 percent in the Capital required by the constitution as was argued in the closing trial challenging his election.”

The letter to Biden added:  “In the same way that you could not lawfully have been declared president in 2020, without securing 270 electoral votes, no one could be lawfully declared president in Nigeria’s February elections without winning 25 percent in the capital Abuja.

Don’t Legitimize Fraudulent Elections, Criminal Executives

 Why is the US legitimizing unconscionable unconstitutionality that wouldn’t stand in the United States more so when a lot of taxpayer funds were invested in Nigeria’s election systems?”

 However, the problem with Tinubu is far worse than a flawed process – it’s the person. The United States more than any other country has the receipts of Senator Bola Tinubu’s reported narcotics involvement, suspected ID theft, multimillion-dollar money laundering through New York property acquisitions, alleged forgery over a quarter century in a serial crime spree in the United States. He has no record of existence prior to suddenly appearing at a community college in Chicago that registered him as female, then ending with a $460,000 money-laundering forfeiture for “narcotics trafficking” in a US District Court in Chicago.

 So, why would the United States pin it’s hopes for “defending democracy” in Africa on a former Chicago drug mafia accountant and his current Vice President  –  who many believe was linked to islamo-terrorists as state governor of Borno State?  

This classic one-step forward, two steps backward fauxtrot is just the latest iteration of America’s schizophrenic Nigeria policy from the Clinton Administration to the present. Obama/Biden administration designated the leaders of terror group Boko Haram as terrorists but refused to designate the group itself as a Foreign Terrorist Organization despite the fact that it attacked American diplomat and FBI Legal Attaché Vernice Guthrie and Jennifer Dent in deadly suicide bombings. 

 The attacks on these American women in Nigeria during Obama’s first term was covered up till this day, and they only designated Boko Haram in the second term when I led a human rights campaign to designate it via US congressional action.

Is Bola Ahmed Tinubu a U.S. Asset?

 Why is the Biden administration again engaging in cognitive dissonance by denouncing the Nigerian election rigging and embracing the rigger like Obama did in sanctioning Boko Haram terror leaders but not Boko Haram terrorist organization?

 Intrepid investigative journalist David Hundeyin, now exiled in UK for his shocking corruption exposés on global jihad and corruption in Nigeria (including Tinubu’s) offers up a troubling theory that demands response from the authorities.

In addition to Tinubu’s drug-money laundering case in the United States 30 years ago, Hundeyin’s investigations show a pattern of continuing US money laundering via then-Senator Tinubu’s children with two multimillion dollar properties in New York and an $11-million property in the United Kingdom more recently.

Hundeyin argues that the very fact that the Tinubus’ continue to launder funds into the United States and the United Kingdom despite a $460,000 drug money asset forfeiture illustrates impunity.  Worse, it may be argued that the Biden Administration has refused to turn over information on Tinubu because he is a covert US asset.

It is an extraordinary conclusion but why would Biden dance on the graves of Nigerians murdered in fraudulent elections to foist a money-launderer for drug cartels that destroyed American lives as president of its top African trade partner?

Two things happened in the last 24 hours in Nigeria’s capital where I just finished covering closing arguments in the election challenge against Tinubu’s election.

 Tinubu nominated to his cabinet Atiku Bagudu a money-laundering legend who looted an estimated $5 Billion out of Nigeria in the ‘90s.

 Biden’s administration plans to return tens of millions of dollars in infamous” Abacha loot” (eponymous to the Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, who abducted, tortured, imprisoned and ultimately exiled me to America as a young lawyer 25 years ago) back to his bagman Atiku Bagudu in an odious settlement that the US Department of Justice and Bagudu’s family cobbled together last year. All this, despite DOJ’s public denouncement of the Abacha loot seizure as its biggest “Kleptocracy” forfeiture a decade ago. Bagudu stands to get a bonus check from the United States and a paycheck from Tinubu in exchange for a slap in the face from America’s justice system. 

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

 I arrived at the Nigerian senate Aug. 4 with objections to Bagudu’s nomination armed with information on his ongoing €200 million forfeiture action in U.S. District Court in DC only to learn that Tinubu had given strict orders to the Senators not to object to Bagudu’s ministerial appointment.

My day got worse. Late on Aug. 4 Tinubu wrote to the Senate asking for war authorization against Niger.

 Why exactly does the United States want a Nigerian proxy war with Niger, and why would a newly installed president facing nationwide protests and strikes for gas price hikes, want to invade another country barely two months into office?

 And more worryingly, why would the United States, which invaded a country to imprison drug lord Noriega, ask a drug money-laundering lord to invade a small French-speaking West African country?

Deep questions, which will be answered in our next installment.

Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq, is a prominent US-based international human rights lawyer and Nigeria pro-democracy advocate with the US NIGERIA LAW GROUP in Washington. Last month, he marked the 27th anniversary of his abduction and torture by Gen. Abacha for demanding an investigation of the assassination of pro-democracy icon Kudirat Abiola over the June 12 election annulment. 

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