KANO, Nigeria – Nigerian police detained a man for 10 days after he insulted a state governor on Facebook, traumatising him to such a degree that he has been hospitalised, his father said on Thursday.
Mukhtar Ibrahim Aminu, 24, posted a message on his own Facebook page on January 9 insulting governor Sule Lamido over the politician’s support for President Goodluck Jonathan in April elections.
Lamido is governor of Jigawa state, located in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north. Jonathan, a Christian, has faced resistance to his candidacy in the region.
“O Allah destroy Sule Lamido and the rest of his friends,” said the Facebook post which has since been removed, according to local journalists.
“O Allah disgrace Sule Lamido and the rest of his cursed friends. O Allah curse Sule Lamido and the rest of his cursed friends …”
He was arrested on January 19 in the Jigawa state capital Dutse, then taken to Nigerian police headquarters in the nation’s capital Abuja, where he was held for nine days.
After being transferred back to Dutse, he was held in police custody another day before being arraigned in court, said his father, Ibrahim Aminu.
A judge ordered that Aminu be remanded in prison but the case was recalled hours later at the insistence of the Jigawa state justice commissioner.
The commissioner told the court the governor was withdrawing the case in the public interest, without elaborating, local journalists who were in court told AFP.
“My son was arrested by the police and detained for 10 days at the insistence of governor Lamido for exercising his freedom of speech in order to settle political scores with me and nothing else,” Ibrahim Aminu, also a former MP in the state parliament, told AFP.
“His comments on Facebook were just an excuse to get at me for decamping to the opposition ACN from the ruling PDP in Jigawa state.”
Aminu was receiving treatment in a private clinic in nearby Kano for the trauma he suffered in detention, his family said.
The governor’s spokesman, Umar Kyari, denied there were political reasons for his arrest.
“What happened to Mukhtar Ibrahim Aminu was entirely a police affair, who felt that the governor was defamed and the accused needed to be prosecuted for the gravity of the uncouth message he posted,” Kyari said.
Kyari declined to say why the governor withdrew the case against the accused, saying it was a legal decision and he was not in a position to elaborate. Police did not return calls for comment.
Nigerian politicians can be notoriously intolerant of criticism and tensions have risen ahead of April elections.