On the eve of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, Daniel Ihiene Usman shared a post on Facebook encouraging people to stay out of trouble during the elections. Twenty-four hours later, he was killed by a stray bullet due to electoral violence. Years later, his family has not gotten closure.
Daniel, who was 19 years old, posted, “Vote and not fight! Respect yourself and stay out of trouble. God bless Nigeria” on his Facebook page. The date was Feb. 22, 2019 and tensions were high as parties awaited the next day – election day.
It was his first election as he had turned 18 a year earlier, making him eligible to vote. Excited to exercise his right, he went to the polling booth but did not make it back.
On the morning of the 2019 presidential election, Feb. 23, 2019, Daniel, who was a 100-level student of Federal University, Lokoja got ready and left for the polling centre. Minutes after he got to the Ajetachi polling unit, thugs began shooting sporadically.
Like others at the polling center, he joined in the scramble for a place to hide from the bullets flying around. Unfortunately, he was hit by a stray bullet and died immediately, according to several eyewitnesses.
Kogi is ranked ninth among 27 states in Nigeria surveyed in terms of the prevalence of political fatalities. ELection in Kogi state has been described as the untamed spread of thuggery. Thugs used by very powerful elites supported by the state, have often frustrated attempts at conducting free and fair elections.
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It has been over two years since Daniel’s death but his family told HumAngle that no official investigation or statement has been issued, to the best of their knowledge.
“We just went to sign that he was not a thug or miscreant. That’s what the Police demanded,” Daniel’s older brother, Josiah said.
When news of Daniel’s death broke, the popular narrative did not properly describe the true events, his family told HumAngle. He was reported to have been shot because he refused to vote for a party against his will.
Josiah, however, refuted that claim, adding that Daniel never argued with anyone at the polling unit. “He was killed by a stray bullet,” his brother reiterated.
HumAngle also observed that all the reports that were published by most media outlets, even the Nigerian Bar Association’s tweet about the story, wrongly profiled him.
He was referred to as an undergraduate of Kogi State University, but his family stated that he was about to resume his first year at Federal University, Lokoja.
“Maybe they thought I was the one killed,” said his older brother, Josiah who was a 400 level student of Kogi State University as at the time the incident happened.
“Daniel is greatly missed. He is the third born of the family and also was preparing to start his university journey at that time. Everything was ready and we were just waiting for the election break to be over for him to resume Federal University Lokoja,” said Josiah
Daniel’s parents said the incident and the (lack of) action afterwards show that the lives of ordinary citizens do not matter, which is why no one cared about their son’s death.
“We haven’t heard about any investigations nor have we gotten any official visit or questioning or update from the police or government since the incident,” Josiah said.
The family told HumAngle that they would like to know that the government cared enough about Daniel to pursue an investigation.