Nigeria – ‘Bogus Charges’ Against Student Who Tweeted About President’s Wife Must Be Dropped

First lady Aisha Buhari instructed team of police detectives to track down Aminu Adamu Muhammed, who was allegedly tortured in secret location

Student now faces prosecution for various alleged cyber offences

‘This heavy-handed mistreatment is a clear attempt to strike fear into the hearts of young Nigerians who use social media to hold the powerful to account’ – Osai Ojigho

In response to reports that a Nigerian student, Aminu Adamu Muhammed, 23, has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings, after being detained over accusations of defaming Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria on Twitter, Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director, said:

“It is beyond disgraceful that the Nigerian authorities have arrested and allegedly tortured Aminu Adamu Muhammed after he merely tweeted about the First Lady of Nigeria.

“The bogus charges against Adamu Muhammed must be urgently and unconditionally dropped, and the authorities should order an investigation into his unlawful detention and abusive treatment.

“The fact that he was detained incommunicado highlights the rampant impunity enjoyed by the Nigerian authorities.

“This heavy-handed mistreatment is a clear attempt to strike fear into the hearts of young Nigerians who use social media to hold the powerful to account.

“We are concerned by the growing number of attacks on freedom of expression in Nigeria. The authorities are increasingly using unlawful arrests and ill-treatment to stifle those who criticise the country. This must stop now.”

According to a police report, Aminu Adamu Muhammed was arrested at Federal University Dutse in the northern state of Jigawa on 18 November after Aisha Buhari instructed a team of police detectives to track him down. He was then held in an unknown location and denied access to his family and lawyer, in clear violation of international human rights law.

Earlier this week (29 November), Adamu Muhammed was charged with Cybercrime, Cybersquatting, Computer Related Forgery, Conspiracy and Criminal Breach of Trust.

Nigeria ratified the Anti-Torture Act in 2017, yet torture and other ill-treatment remain pervasive in Nigeria, with police and state security agents continuing to subject detainees to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

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