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What Valentine day means for me ~ Emeka Ugwuonye

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The Valentine day used to mean the same thing for me, as it means for most people, ie, a day for happiness and sharing of love. But for me, it now means a day for me to mark and reflect on the mountain of injustice, corruption, abuse of power and oppression in Nigeria. It is a day in which I have to rededicate myself to the fight for justice for the oppressed and abused peoples of Nigeria.

Barrister Emeka Ugwuonye

On the Valentine day in 2011, exactly ten years today, some officials of Nigerian government, in order to cover up their plan to steal 27 million dollars from Nigerian treasury, conspired to use the EFCC and DSS to kidnap me at the Murtala Mohamed International Airport as I was leaving Nigeria after a brief visit to the country. They needed an excuse to steal the money. They created a story against me. To make the story sound credible, they created a basis to go after me. Once, I was side-tracked, they stole and shared that money.

After kidnapping me, only God knew what they had planned to do to me. But unknown to them, I had a hidden extra phone with me, after they thought they had taken all my phones. With that phone, I was able to send a message to my lawyers in Washington DC. That probably saved me from being assassinated that night.

That incident led to the longest and most massive persecution of one person in the history of Nigeria. But also that incident transformed me. It stirred up a beast that has been in hibernation. For me, it was the turning point. I could never see Nigerian government officials in the same innocent light I had seen them before. I became aware of the degree of corruption and abuse of power in Nigeria. And I swore to do my best to stop it. I realized that brutality, dictatorship and abuse of rights did not die with General Abacha’s government, but has lived on in a more vicious reincarnation under the pseudo democratic government we have had since 1999.

Today, I spend my time reflecting on my struggles so far. It is still a long journey and I may not be the one to slay the monster. But I will do my best to fight it. I am happy that in the end, I shall have helped save many lives that would have been ruined by the corrupt system.

Happy Valentine to all of you irrespective of the fact that the day means different things to us

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