Police Arrest University Student for Tweet Considered Defamatory to Nigeria’s First Lady

Aminu Adamu Muhammed and Mrs. Aisha Buhari

Aminu Adamu Muhammed, a 23-year-old 500-level student of the Federal University Dutse in Jigawa State, was on November 18, 2022 arrested by operatives of the Nigeria Police for a tweet considered defamatory of Mrs. Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s first lady. He was reportedly severely beaten by the officers when he was picked up at about 12:00 noon from the school campus.

On June 8, 2022, Aminu tweeted in Hausa language, “Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi,” meaning “Mama has eaten poor people’s money and is now full.” The tweet was accompanied by a photograph of Aisha Buhari.

He was transferred to the FCT State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Abuja where he was allowed to contact his father Adamu Shalele Azare about his location.

Aminu’s friends said he posted the tweet out of frustration with the eight-month strike by universities lecturers across the country which started in February 2022, ended in October 2022.

The management of his school confirmed his arrest. The university’s spokesperson, Mr. Abdullahi Bello, said the university was not in session when Aminu posted the tweet, thus, he was not under the care of the university when he made the post on Twitter.

According to Abdullahi, “The unfortunate incident involving Aminu Adamu who made a Twitter post happened during the break. He did the posting in his capacity as Aminu Adamu, not as a student of FUD.”

The parents of the student have called on the first lady to forgive and release their son.

On November 29, he was secretly arraigned at the FCT High Court No. 14 in Abuja by the police and charged with cyber stalking. His family was not notified before his arraignment. He was sent to the Suleja Correctional Centre in Niger State on the orders of Justice Yusuf Halilu who denied him bail despite pleading not guilty to the charges filed against him.

The one-count charge against the student reads: “That you Aminu Adamu, male of Anguwar Sarakuna, Bauchi, Bauchi state sometime between May – June 2022 within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court did intentionally open a Twitter Handle with the name @aminullahie Catalyst and screenshot the image of Her Excellency Hajia Aisha Buhari and wrote on it in Hausa language ‘Su mama anchi kudi talakawa ankoshi’ roughly translated to the English language to mean ‘mama has embezzled monies meant for the poor to satisfaction’ and posted same on your above Twitter handle for the members of the public to read, knowing same to be false and capable of affecting her reputation. You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 391 of the penal code.”

On December 2, Mrs. Aisha Buhari withdrew her case against him following pressure and condemnation from different sections of society including from activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other Nigerians.

Fidelis Ogbobe, the prosecution counsel, while withdrawing the case on her behalf said Mrs. Buhari, being the mother of the nation, decided to withdraw the case following the intervention of “well-meaning Nigerians”.

Moving a motion for the withdrawal of the case, Fidelis cited Section 108 (2)(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. Justice Yusuf Halilu commended Mrs. Buhari for withdrawing the case.