Nigerians share videos tearing up passports to protest election results

A number of videos shared online have shown Nigerians who are claiming to destroy their passports to express their anger with the results of the 2023 general elections in the country in February and March. The videos reflect a wave of frustration among citizens in and out of Nigeria who claim that the elections were fraudulent.

Videos showing Nigerians claiming to destroy their passports have emerged online in the wake of general elections in the country.
Videos showing Nigerians claiming to destroy their passports have emerged online in the wake of general elections in the country. © Observers

Since March 20, a wave of videos has begun appearing online showing individuals tearing up Nigerian passports in a show of protest over recent elections in the country.

“Because of what has transpired in this last election, from today I refuse to be associated with anything regarding Nigeria,” said this user before ripping the document in half. “Nigeria is a failed state."

Another video shows a man who is allegedly living in the diaspora. Before ripping his passport, he says: “Having critically observed the way and manner the Nigerian election has been conducted so far, I have come to the conclusion that Nigeria can never be redeemed. As a result, I have decided not to be associated with anything called Nigeria.”


“I deny being a Nigerian,” said another.

“I feel so ashamed to be a Nigerian,” said this man before ripping up the document page by page.

The gesture is mainly symbolic, as destroying a passport does not affect one’s citizenship. Passports are travel documents and can be re-issued if damaged. A number of commenters on these videos expressed scepticism, presuming the passports were expired.

The FRANCE 24 Observers team was unable to verify whether these videos show people tearing up valid passports. 

Nigeria’s 2023 general elections have been rife with controversy as critics and opposition leaders say the vote was rigged. 

These videos came after results of local elections began streaming in, one month after the presidential race was called for Bola Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. Many local governorship elections also went to the APC. 

Many had hoped for a change in the status quo. Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate, gained widespread support, especially among Nigeria’s youth. Running as part of the Labour Party rather than one of Nigeria’s two main political parties, APC and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Obi emerged as a hero of disaffected voters, promising to tackle youth unemployment and corruption. 

Obi mounted a major challenge in the race, even winning in Lagos and several other southeastern states, but ultimately came third with just over 25% of the votes.

Obi and PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar filed petitions on March 21 to cancel the results of the election. The two former candidates cited irregularities in voting processes and called on the electoral commission to conduct a new election. 

Outside observers have criticised a range of issues in the election, including failures in systems meant to prevent the manipulation of votes. Others reported rampant cases of vote buying, particularly during local elections, where party agents were seen giving out money or provisions in exchange for votes. 

Nigeria has been seeing a decline in voter turnout for the past 20 years, which analysts have said could be due to voter suppression or increases in technology that prevent the same person from voting multiple times.

Nigeria’s electoral commission has denied claims of technical mishaps or ballot manipulation.