By Justine Idakwo
In the days before the #EndSARS protests, one of the spectacles Nigerians, and indeed the world, were treated to was the tantrum thrown by a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK), who lost his cool when he was pressed for information by a journalist. While briefing journalists as part of a tour of certain states, a journalist told FFK “we don’t know who is bankrolling you” and that triggered the most disproportionate tongue lash ever from the rattled politician.
Global activist group, Amnesty International, is now in the same space as FFK. It is time to ask, who is bankrolling Amnesty International in Nigeria? This question is pertinent considering the frenetic manner in which the group has been struggling to defend the indefensible. It has become so brazen in a manner that suggests that it is under pressure to return value to whoever is picking up the tabs for its activities in Nigeria.
There has been a lot said about how Amnesty International is tied to questionable and dubious financing of its global activities, which are mostly geared towards subjugating targeted countries on behalf of client states. The chunk of its financing comes from donations, a large percentage of which is conveniently from “unanimous donors”, a euphemism for key players in the war industry – weapons manufacturers, arms dealers, crisis merchants amongst others plagues of the earth. Its donors that are brave enough to have their names next to their donations to Amnesty International prove to be mired in subversive activities in sovereign states through shell companies.
If posing as a neutral NGO while pocketing illicit and questionable money is immoral, Amnesty International surpassed its own self with the recent kind of funding it drew from in Nigeria during the #EndSARS protests. It directly benefitted from terrorist funding, which is not surprising since it has done a little terrorist financing on the side while carrying out its so-called human rights monitoring in Nigeria’s northeast.
The NGO may opt to argue to the contrary, but the fact remains that it leveraged propaganda facilitated by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a group outlawed by the court and properly designated as a terrorist organization. Amnesty International benefitted from the propaganda deployed by IPOB against the Nigerian state, which implied that it was funded in kind. It is yet to be established how much the organization got from IPOB in cash since this is still being investigated.
What is clear however is that IPOB started the lie about a massacre at Lekki Toll Gate on the night of Tuesday 28 October 2020 in order to justify the widespread arson and looting that it unleashed against government establishments and some key Nigerians the following day. Amnesty International’s Nigeria Country Director, Osai Ojigho, has continued to parrot the claim of massacre without being able to provide a shred of evidence. She rather was trying to sell the farce that Nigerian military authorities have a penchant for doing things certain ways and that this was enough evidence.
Things turned almost comical when enlightened Nigerians took Amnesty International to task. The operatives of the NGO went FFK as they took to social media to counter accuse those who are asking them to provide evidence of the massacre, they had claimed took place. They went petty.
FFK’s trip that came under scrutiny was meant to be a whitewash mission to praise the administration of some state governors while Amnesty International’s mission is to undermine Nigeria’s integrity, sow disaffection within the population and further incite more violent protests. It was however not as ingenious as FFK, who attempted plausibility in the excuse it made for his outburst, rather Amnesty International resorted to it old tricks.
Such tricks include rehashing lies told by some of the agents it planted among the protesters. These were the ones that were oblivious of the possibility of fact-checking to the extent that they were sharing and trending movie production pictures as their evidence that people were killed at Lekki Toll Gate. It is a miracle that these movie stills, made popular by Amnesty International’s agents, did not make it into the report that the NGO hurriedly put together. Not that it would have mattered anyway since the organization has a history of hiring people from the creative industry to help it mimic reality by testifying before panels after being thoroughly coached by performing experts, posing for staged photographs, or using sound editing software to layer sound effects on interviews to make them sound distressing.
More befuddling is that Amnesty International’s tally of fatalities from the Lekki incidence include people that miraculously resurrected and even came forward to dismiss reports of their demise. A responsible organization would have step back, take stock, identify where it went wrong or what it did wrong and make amends. But Amnesty International has become too absorbed in its own echo chamber to allow for simple reason and logic to prevail. So, Ojigho and her associates continue to see shadows in the woodwork in addition to ghosts of living persons whose make-believe demise it wants Nigerian authorities to be held accountable for.
Not even the public realization that its star witness, DJ Switch (Obianuju Catherine Udeh) is an IPOB operative has made Amnesty International wake up from its reverie. Ojigho shared the stage with DJ Switch and Tim Okafor, National Coordinator of IPOB in Canada and Stella Kemdirim, an IPOB member in testifying before the Canadian Parliament. One Abdulrazak Namdas, a member of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who should have been a redeeming feature for the IPOB-Amnesty International circus at the Canadian Parliament, turned out to be an associate of an opposition figure who had threatened to make the country ungovernable after losing the presidential election to the incumbent.
The implication of Amnesty International playing tag-team with IPOB on an international stage is that is has shared culpability with the IPOB members who killed policemen in several cities across Nigeria, looted food reserves, destroyed government property and inflicted injury on Nigerians. The judicial panels of inquiry set up by some states must make it a point to invite this NGO to appear before them and they should be asked the right set of questions. The group should answer these questions with the same candor it had repeatedly demanded of the authorities in Nigeria.
Amnesty International should be asked to provide evidence of the massacre it alleged. It should provide proof of the repression it has been accusing the government of engaging in. It should explain why its reported fatalities resurrected within hours of being reported dead. But more importantly, the panels should ask “who is bankrolling Amnesty International in Nigeria”?
The answer to this last question will be useful in helping Nigerians understand this organization’s mission in Nigeria and the kind of courtesies to accord it. One expects that Amnesty International would not flare up like FFK, who became visibly angry in Calabar when asked a similar question. Nigerians really want to know who is bankrolling Amnesty International and it is not too much to ask.
Idakwo is a public affairs commentator and wrote from Lagos.