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There was a time when political assassination, and the dread of it, was a feature of Nigerian politics and everyone was happy to be rid of those bad old days over the past decade. But the ugliness of it crept back in the past week in two significant ways: one real and one theatrically absurd.
On September 11, 2022, gunmen ambushed the convoy of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (Anambra South – YPP) in Anambra State and killed two police officers and three civilians. His bulletproof vehicle was the only reason the first-time senator escaped death.
Naturally, many prominent Nigerians condemned the attack for being barbaric. One of them was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, who’s a former Anambra State governor. What Obi didn’t know at the time was that he was about to have his own brush with assassination but in the most absurd manner.
You may remember Festus Keyamo as a social crusader, but he’s also the campaign spokesperson for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
On September 12, 2022, Keyamo accused Obi of planning to fake an assassination attempt on himself to frame the APC and win some sympathy points. He didn’t provide a source for his allegation other than, “Trust me bro”, but he called the plot a part of the “US Strategy”, like that gives it any sort of authenticity.
Obi’s camp quickly dismissed the allegation and turned it around, tagging it as Tinubu’s camp floating the idea of assassinating the former governor. It wasn’t a surprise that fake reports circulated online later on September 12 that gunmen attacked Obi’s convoy in Abuja.
Even for someone of Keyamo’s infamous temperament, weaponising assassination ahead of the 2023 general elections is nothing short of reckless, especially in light of the Ubah attack.
This isn’t the best time in Nigerian history to bring back the grim days of Bola Ige and Funsho Williams.
Dear Nigerian politicians, please apply some decorum.
What Else Happened This Week?
The Rise (and Fall) of Ransom Negotiators
Nigeria’s kidnap-for-ransom industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past seven years. The industry generates hundreds of millions of naira provided by families of victims. With that much money on the table, it’s only natural that we have seen the rise of a new career option for Nigerians: ransom negotiators. One of them is Tukur Mamu.
Mamu’s main bread and butter is journalism, but he negotiated the release of some of the train passengers that terrorists kidnapped in March 2022. He has also been very loud about the government ensuring the safe and speedy return of the passengers with two dozen still in captivity six months later.
The government heard his voice and decided to slam him with charges, accusing him of collaborating with the terrorists. The main charge is that he’s been pretending to be a referee in a game where he’s actually the 12th man for the terrorists.
The Nigerian government doesn’t have very high regard for ransom negotiators, and Mamu’s developing court trial could set the tone for their future in the Nigerian kidnapping ecosystem.
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Question of the Week
How long did Nigeria’s second republic last?
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Ehen, one more thing…
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State became a punctuality prefect this week when he locked out civil service workers who didn’t resume on time for work at the Government House.
It’d be nice to see him transfer that energy into pretending to be a state governor and pay the workers he owes.