Having exposed Nigerian president’s drug past, averted Niger war, no good deed goes unpunished
By Emmanuel Ogebe
In the United States, his hard-hitting investigative report on global terror financing a cereal manufacturer in Jos, a Chicago drug mafia bagman-turned-president and his exposé on a misguided war mobilization would have been Pulitzer-worthy but in Nigeria, they put intrepid reporter David Hundeyin on the run for his life – again.
Over the last couple of years, Hundeyin has seen a meteoric rise in his profile as a self-published journalist taking on sacred cows in a high-risk country for anyone, journalists most of all.
He has exposed the compromise of Amnesty International’s Nigeria office by the nation’s spy agency leading to the exit of its head as well malfeasance in the BBC and Nigeria’s aviation sector amongst others.
His expose’ on Bola Tinubu’s drug history and fraud continues to bedevil the new president in legal challenges at home and even in a Chicago federal court.
His exclusive report of Tinubu’s illegal war mobilization to invade Niger arguably torpedoed the war, but it palpably increased the target on his back.
In a viral video on Twitter, Hundeyin said Tinubu’s regime has labeled him a terrorist in Ghana, the West African country where he’s stayed in exile, and that he now risks revocation of his refugee documents or illegal rendition.
Sadly, his fears are not unfounded. In 2018, lawyers for this writer secured an internal memo from Nigeria’s ambassador in the United States in 2016 with the following chilling request, “Going forward, to prevent Mr. Ogebe, who is a Nigerian citizen, from making further derogatory comments that are inimical to the image of Nigeria, Government may consider taking punitive action against him, including withdrawal of his privilege to carry a Nigerian passport.”
Although this was conduct incongruent with their diplomatic status and a violation of 18 USC 1505 which provides that, “Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede . . . the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress— Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both,” the Obama Administration did nothing to sanction Nigeria.
The embassy’s 2016 memo was uncovered in 2018 – the same year that dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggie was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.
While both Republican and Democratic administrations since waffled on sanctions against Saudi’s for this brazen murder of a US permanent resident abroad, the witness intimidation crimes were committed by the Nigerian embassy right in the U.S., but nothing happened.
Hundeyin may well have stopped a war in Niger in which 1,700 American troops could have been trapped, but he can’t count on US help from Tinubu’s threats.
By his own admission, the United States has failed to turn over documents on Tinubu’s murky past that Hundeyin has requested, causing him to speculate that Tinubu might be a covert US asset for a U.S. intelligence agency.
That is little comfort to Hundeyin, who says he’s paid too high a price already even before Tinubu’s controversial election in February 2023.
Emmanual Ogebe is Special Counsel of the Justice for Jos Project and a founding member of the Nigerian Lawyers Group in Washington, D.C.