A US-based organisation, the US-Nigeria Law Group, has written to the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, demanding the “immediate revocation” of the visa granted to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, saying that “failure to act on this is not only a hindrance to democracy, good governance and accountability in Nigeria.”
The group also accused Governor Ganduje of being “directly involved in the extreme cases of forced conversion of Christians by State actors.”
The petition dated December 23, 2021 to the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken and signed by international human rights lawyer and leader of US NIGERIA LAW GROUP, Emmanuel Ogebe was titled “Nigerian Kano State Gov Ganduje’s visit to USA unconscionable.”
The group said in the petition to Blinken that failure to revoke Ganduje’s US visa which enabled him to travel to the U.S. last month “amounts to your undermining key US systems and mechanisms for advance of global human rights.
The U.S.-Nigeria Law Group said “Governor Ganduje’s misdeeds are not limited to religious persecution. He has the dubious distinction of being the only Governor in the history of Nigeria to be recorded on video actually collecting a multi-million dollar bribe in cash!
“Furthermore, Governor Ganduje’s Deputy is also the only one in Nigerian history recorded on video interfering with elections and forcibly removed by the Police during the process in their 2019 re-election bid. The election chief for Kano state and his family died mysteriously in a fire soon after the elections which Ganduje was poised to lose but for rigging.”
According to the petition, “Mr Secretary, there is probably no Nigerian governor less deserving of a U.S. visa based on overwhelming documented evidence than Mr Ganduje. Gov Ganduje is directly involved in the extreme cases of forced conversion of Christians by State actors as we noted in a memo to the USCIRF this year especially as seen in “the viral video of fantastically corrupt Kano state governor Ganduje paying two girls to become Muslims.
“This is important to show that not only non-state actors and violent extremist organizations are persecutors in Nigeria so as to strengthen the case for CPC redesignation.”
Ganduje’s action is an stamp of the endemic abduction and forced marriage of teenage Christian girls in northern Nigeria by non-terrorists.
“Copious cases abound as just happened again now. https://www.facebook.com/123852348215168/posts/822973038303092/ https://www.nationalupdate.com.ng/hacfo-on-how-aisha-was-forcefully-abducted-converted-and-married-off-with-consent-of-emir/. These Christian girl abductions are just a local version of the infamous Chibok terror mass abductions seven years ago which took 90% Christian schoolgirls. As we noted in our letter to Secretary Pompeo last year, :
“(There’s) a recurring phenomenon where Christian girls are abducted, islamized and forced into marriage. This travesty though made infamous by the abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls from the Christian town of Chibok in 2014, was merely a large scale extrapolation by a Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) that is done by local Muslims in northern villages sometimes, with the support of emirs and state governors.”
Kano State orchestrated the arrest and detention of Prof Solomon Tarfa for the whole of 2020. Tarfa a missionary arrested from his orphanage in Kano on Christmas Day 2019 was released two days after the US designated Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern in December 2020.
In our memo to USCIRF requesting he be classified a Prisoner of Conscience for his persecution we stated thus:
“In Kano State, NAPTIP, a US-funded Nigerian government agency arrested the Head of a Christian orphanage, Prof Tarfa on Christmas day and he has remained imprisoned …as persecution for suspected proselytization of Muslim children.
However despite the evidence that the children are all Christians, the government shut down the Du Mercy orphanages in two states, took away the children and filed bogus charges against Professor Tarfa. US-taxpayers must be incensed that at least twice last year, an agency supported with American funds participated in the persecution of innocent Christians.” Prof Tarfa is still on trial on bogus charges and Kano state government has put the Christian orphans in a Muslim orphanage while the Kaduna state government demolished his Du Mercy orphanage while he was in prison.
The detention of Prof Tarfa received attention in the UK House of Lords but not USCIRF even though a US-funded agency initiated his dubious arrest. USCIRF did not designate him a Prisoner of Conscience despite being one of the most egregious cases last year.
One of the Christian orphans has been seriously burnt in a fire at the government orphanage where they’re languishing. Although Prof Tarfa has been released, his prosecution by Kano state continues in 2022.
It is egregious that Kano State which freed the killers of a Deeper Life pastor’s wife Mrs Bridget is persecuting a kindhearted humanitarian for his generosity to the vulnerable.
Kano under Gov Ganduje also persecutes others besides Christians. Indeed 100% of USCIRF’s Nigerian Prisoners of Conscience held by state actors are in from Kano state alone.
Last year, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Frederick A. Davie announced his “adoptions of Mubarak Bala and Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, both of whom he will advocate for as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project.
Mubarak Bala is a prominent atheist activist and President of the Nigerian Humanist Association. He was arrested on April 28, 2020 and transferred to Kano state police custody, reportedly for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a Facebook post. He allegedly posted: “Fact is, you have no life after this one. You have been dead before, long before you were born, billions of years of death.” Bala remains detained without charge, and has not been allowed to communicate with his lawyers or his family. His whereabouts and well-being remain unknown.
“There is absolutely no reason why Mubarak Bala should continue to be held in detention without charge, seemingly for nothing more than exercising his right to freedom of belief and expression,” Commissioner Davie said. “His incommunicado status is particularly alarming. The Nigerian government must take all steps necessary to confirm his whereabouts and safety, and ensure that he is afforded a fair trial in a secular court. If his only alleged crime is blasphemy, he must immediately be released and allowed to return home to his family.”
Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is a 22-year-old Islamic gospel singer belonging to the minority Tijaniyya Sufi Islamic sect. On August 10, 2020, he was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by a Kano state Shari’a court for reportedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a private WhatsApp message. He was accused of praising an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the extent it “elevated him above the Prophet Muhammed.”
“Sharif-Aminu’s blasphemy conviction and death sentence are a violation of international human rights law and Article 38 of the Nigerian Constitution,” Commissioner Davie added. “Authorities must overturn this sentence and ensure that Sharif-Aminu’s right to religious freedom is protected.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. USCIRF has also expressed concern about blasphemy laws in Africa and state enforcement of Shari’a laws in northern Nigeria.”
Gov Ganduje’s misdeeds are not limited to religious persecution. He has the dubious distinction of being the only governor in the history of Nigeria to be recorded on video actually collect a multimillion dollar bribe in cash!
Furthermore, Gov Ganduje’s deputy is also the only one in Nigerian history recorded on video interfering with elections and forcibly removed by the police during the process in their 2019 reelection bid. The election chief for Kano state and his family died mysteriously in a fire soon after the elections which Ganduje was poised to lose but for rigging.
“In Sept 2020, we wrote to Secretary Pompeo thus “ We thank you for the visa restrictions announced this week on political operatives who undermined Nigeria’s democratic process through rigging and urge you to extend it to those responsible for religious persecution in Nigeria.”
“We are therefore stunned that Gov Ganduje is still eligible to travel to the US despite his notorious and amply evidenced criminality. Under every possible index of global governance accountability, Gov Ganduje is an unmitigated failure be it in undermining democracy by rigging, religious persecution of citizens, bribery and corruption etc.
“If Ganduje is not on the US list of visa-sanctioned Nigerian officials then who could possibly be on the list? We urge the US to publish the list of Nigerian officials whose U.S. visas were reportedly restricted in 2020. It is bizarre and indeed unusual not to state the names of the officials as the US has in the past announced the visa revocations of a former Nigerian governor and a former Attorney General.
“Similarly we ask the immediate revocation of Gov Ganduje’s US visa. Mr Secretary, failure to act on this is not only a hindrance to democracy, good governance and accountability in Nigeria but amounts to your undermining key US systems and mechanisms for advance of global human rights.
“Both under the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act and the Global Magnitsky Act, amongst others, Mr Ganduje is liable for sanctions. The Global Magnitsky Sanctions Act of the United States of America provides in Section 3 (a) that “the President may impose sanctions on any person for violation of rights of individuals who reveal gross violations of rights to life, fair trial, illegal and corrupt practices of government officials, torture, restriction of religious freedom, discriminatory treatment, freedom of association and democratic elections.”
“Mr Ganduje is the perfect example of a combination of most if not all of the violations prescribed in Section 3(a) above.
“Following your signal failure to follow the Frank Wolf IRF Act by redesignating Nigeria a CPC, it behoves you not to disregard anymore US laws as they relate to Nigeria by holding Gov Ganduje culpable with immediate effect