Nigeria’s first lady ordered security forces to arrest a student and also oversaw his beating at the country’s presidential mansion, his lawyer said.
Aminu Mohammed Adamu, 24, was arrested by police in the capital Abuja over a tweet he posted on June 8 which prosecutors say contained defamatory remarks about Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife, his lawyer Agu Chijioke said Kingsley to CNN. A defamation lawsuit brought by the First Lady against Adamu has since been dropped.
According to Kingsley, Adamu, a senior in environmental management and toxicology at a university in northern Nigeria, was being pursued by “plainclothes security officers” and arrested on November 18 at Dutse Federal University in Jigawa state.
“My client said he was arrested at school and taken to the presidential mansion where he met with the first lady who ordered security forces to beat him… and he was beaten before being arrested at a police station in Abuja was,” Kingsley told CNN.
Nigerian National Police and Foreign Ministry spokesmen told CNN they were unaware of Adamus’ arrest.
A spokesman for Abuja Police Command did not comment when reached by CNN, while Presidential Spokesman Garba Shehu did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on allegations of the first lady’s attack on Adamu.
Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari has yet to comment publicly on the incident.
Adamu was brought before a court in Abuja last Tuesday (November 29), more than a week after his arrest.
“He was charged with criminal defamation, he pleaded not guilty,” said his attorney, adding that days after his indictment, he was in the process of asking for bail for Adamus when the charges were dropped by the first lady.
Adamu had previously been transferred from the police facility where he was being held to prison, where he was remanded in custody by court order.
“On Friday (December 2nd) we were called to apply for bail. When the police came into court, they said they were withdrawing the matter entirely because the first lady had decided to withdraw the case against my client,” Kingsley told CNN.
Adamu’s detention was widely condemned by Nigerians and human rights groups, who took to social media using the hashtag #FreeAminu to call for his release.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) also called for nationwide demonstrations and demanded Adamus’ unconditional release.
A police commissioner in Nigeria has also called for the First Lady to be prosecuted.
“Not only did she have him arrested, but he was beaten and tortured in the (presidential) mansion… This is unacceptable,” said Naja’atu Mohammed, a commissioner with the Police Service Commission (PSC), an oversight agency of the Nigerian police force .
“There are laws in this country that govern every crime, so why doesn’t she follow the law? If he is indeed defaming her character, she should start due process and bring him to justice. Ms. Buhari should be prosecuted for taking the law into her hands,” Mohammed told CNN.
Last month, two TikTok comedians were publicly flogged and ordered to wash toilets in northern Kano state for making a video in which a court ruled that the state’s governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had been defamed.
Amnesty International’s Nigeria branch is concerned that freedom of expression in Nigeria is being eroded.
“Amnesty International is affected by the growing number of attacks on freedom of expression in Nigeria. Authorities are increasingly using unlawful arrests and ill-treatment to repress those who criticize the state. This has to stop now,” the human rights group said in a tweet on the day of Adamu’s release.
It also tweeted that “the gross mistreatment of Aminu Adamu Muhammed is a clear attempt to sow fear in the hearts of young Nigerians who are using social media to hold those in power accountable. The Nigerian authorities urgently need to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.”
After two weeks in detention, Adamu was freed and reunited with his family. His uncle Shehu Azare told CNN he is now focused on writing his final exams and would not discuss his ordeal.
adamu received a hero’s welcome when he arrived at his university shortly after his discharge and later a tweet I apologized to the President’s wife and said, “It was never my intention to hurt your feelings… I will change for the better… I am also grateful for your forgiveness…”
in one Video Following the tweet, Adamu reiterated his gratitude to the first lady, which angered many Nigerians who criticized him for “apologizing to his oppressor.”
“I want to thank the First Lady of Nigeria…for finding me worthy in her heart to forgive my recent actions and for her moral advice to change for the better…I will stand by those words.” ‘ Adamu said of his video.
In response to Adamu’s apology to the First Lady, a Nigerian tweeted: “I don’t even understand him, (he) left everyone who stood by him and he apologizes to an oppressor?? Where from?!!!”
Some other commenters said Adamu did it “done the right thing” by apologizing to the President’s wife.
“It’s not okay with me because we asked the first lady (to release Adamu) before he was brought to trial, but she refused to accept the request and took him to court where he was charged and remanded in custody became prison. So there’s no point in that (sorry),” his uncle Azare told CNN.
“A lot of people have complained about it (sorry). People see it as very wrong to ask forgiveness from someone who hit you and harmed you,” he added.