A social media user who is a supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the execution of three prominent critics of the Nigerian president.
Using the micro-blogging platform as his launchpad, the user @witan17, named Chidi Odinkalu, a human rights activist and former head of the National Human Rights Commission, Farooq Kperogi, a fierce critic of the president who teaches at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, United States of America, and Ahmed Salkida, a journalist who writes about Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations in Nigeria and West Africa.
The tweet, which is has been removed from Twitter, took the example of the state’s execution of an Iranian general for treason and called for the execution of these three men who are prominent critics of President Buhari.
Professor Odinkalu on November 1, 2019, the same day the threat was made, announced that he had reported @Witan17 and another user to Twitter over the death threat. Twitter has not taken action on the report as at press time.
I am today requesting @twitter formally to take down the handles of @ishakaa & @witan17 for using the platform actively to advocate killing. I have also instructed appropriate notification to #Nigeria's security authorities. pic.twitter.com/ftrBTQZIzR
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) November 1, 2019
Latest Death Threat A Buildup On Undemocratic Tactic Of The Regime And Its Supporters – Kperogi
“The [Nigerian] government recruited a troll factory on the internet to smear me, to attack me, to libel me, and that didn’t work because it is of no consequence to me,” Professor Kperogi said in a blog post in August 2019. “They went from there to making up all kinds of falsehoods and threats against me.”
The threats follow information revealed to Kperogi that the Nigerian government might be planning to send assassins to murder him on United States soil.
“I never took those death threats seriously until somebody who is close to the president [of Nigeria]’s office — who had given me lots of credible information about the president that has turned out to be entirely accurate — told me that a senior officer of the Nigerian secret police said there were plans to assassinate me,” Kperogi said.
According to the communications professor, he originally dismissed the reports as alarmism. That soon changed when he thought of what happened to Umaru Dikko, a former Nigerian minister in exile.
“When I recall that Buhari had sent Israeli mercenaries to kidnap Umaru Dikko from London on July 5, 1984, and that his regime hired Israeli agents for a social media dissemination and propaganda campaign this year, according to a May 17 2019 Associated Press news story titled ‘Israeli Disinformation Campaign Targeted Nigerian Election,’ I realized that the regime is capable of the vilest malevolence imaginable to protect and conceal the unprecedented criminality it’s perpetrating every day in Nigeria,” Kperogi said in his blog post.
Kperogi said he receives threats at varying times, sometimes multiple in one day or one in an entire month. The threats he receives are via social media and email that can be linked to a smear campaign against government critics, he said.
The smear campaign has previously accused Kperogi of spreading fake news.
Earlier this year, The Sentinel reported on how Kperogi came under fire for tweeting videos of what looked like a Nigerian elected official thumb-printing election ballots. Kperogi accused the Nigerian official and government of rigging the election and that Nigeria’s elections were a “sham democracy.”
Kperogi had been accused by some commenters under his tweet of spreading false information about the elections.
Many in Nigeria wish to speak out against the government, but cannot out of fear of similar reactions of violence and threats, Kperogi said.
Despite these threats, however, Kperogi will continue speaking against the Nigerian government as he has since the false news accusations, he said. Kperogi also does not expect the smear campaign and threats to stop.
“It’s a feature of third world democracy, sadly,” Kperogi said. “But that’s no reason why I should stop. I have the advantage of being located outside of the theater of violence in Nigeria, and this is my own way of giving back to the community.”
Additional reports by The Sentinel.