MORE than 22,000 people have signed a petition asking the United States (US) to place a travel ban on Musiliu Akinsanya aka Mc Oluomo, for inciting violence during the just concluded general elections in Nigeria.
In a petition titled ‘Musiliu Akinsanya aka Mc OluOmo incites violence and needs to be banned from the US’, which was filed on change.org by one Adewale Olanrewaju, Mc Oluomo was accused of making threats against voters of the Igbo ethnic extraction, resulting in violence and casualties.
The petition with 21,266 signatures out of the target 25,000 as of 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 29, was directed to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Akinsanya is believed to be a green card holder in the US and since the US government claims it is against any form of disruption in democratic processes around the world including Africa, then the US government needs to act on Akinsanya’s status in the US, and remove him for his contribution to the recent violence in Lagos,” said the petitioner who claimed to have “numerous” pieces of “evidence”.
Apart from the petition started by Olanrewaju, at least two other petitions – ‘Travel Ban to Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo’ and ‘Terrorism: Arrest, Prosecute & Seize the assets & US Visa of MC OLUOMO & Family’ – have been launched on the same platform by Stanley Aguzie and the Global Coalition Security Democracy.
While Aguzie’s petition with a target of 500 had gained 308 signatures, the petition by the Global Coalition Security Democracy has achieved 97 per cent of the target 1,000 with 976 signatures, as of the time of reporting and was directed to the President of the United States, the US Mission in Nigeria, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of State Service, Nigeria.
Disturbing acts of violence taint Nigeria’s 2023 elections
In a viral video which led to a public outcry, MC Oluomo who is also the Chairman of the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, was captured warning Igbo voters who would not cast their votes for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to stay in their homes or face violent attacks.
But he later dismissed the allegations of threats to the Igbos, saying he was addressing a lady called “Iya Chukwudi”, not the Igbo in Lagos.
The spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force Adejobi Olumuyiwa, also reacting to the threat said it should be regarded as a joke, as nobody had the right to stop the people of Lagos from voting for the candidate of their choice.
Olumuyiwa stated: “I saw a video of MC Oluomo with one Mama Chidinma – an Igbo woman debunking that threat, that it’s not true, it’s just a joke he was making with a particular woman. So, let us take it as a joke, like he said.”
However, there were reports that the alleged threat was executed on election day and the US Mission in Nigeria also spoke out against what it described as the “disturbing” acts of violence, voter intimidation and suppression that marred the March 18 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
In a post-election statement, the Mission described the use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the governorship election in Lagos as particularly concerning.
“Members of the US diplomatic mission observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.
“We call on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process,” the statement read in part.
The petitioners along with over 22,000 signatories, have spoken out loud against the role played by MC Oluomo in the last election and want the US to lead by example and impose sanctions against individuals found culpable of frustrating the country’s democracy.
Success rate of online petitions
Online petitions just like the paper versions help to build interest in an issue and can send a signal of public opinion to decision-makers.
Official petitions on the UK government’s website must reach 10,000 signatures before the authority responds to them, whereas in Nigeria there is no stipulated baseline. Sometimes despite obtaining large levels of support, a petition may still not make a long-lasting impact.
In 2019 for example, the petition to ‘Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU’ broke the record for UK’s most signed petition with more than 6 million signatures by March 31. Unfortunately, this did not stop Britain from exiting the European Union on January 31, 2020.
The UK government responded, noting: “The government acknowledges the considerable number of people who have signed this petition. However, close to three-quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected.”
However, the following year, a petition ‘Justice for George Floyd’ launched by Kellen S, became the most successful online petition in history after garnering 19,690,613 signatures, leading to a victorious outcome.
Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis Police officer named Derek Chauvin, who was later convicted in 2022 and sentenced to 21 years in US federal prison.
To be successful, the online petition should have an actionable title or outcome. Generally, petitions that appeal to a sense of outrage perform better than those with a softer or more positive angle.
Online petitions or campaigns are believed to hold the potential of being far more successful than their analogue, paper-based counterparts, due to their flexibility and shareability.
Typically, after the target number of signatories has been reached, a letter is forwarded to the subject of the petition, usually via e-mail, for further action.