The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has withdrawn the case against the final year student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Mohammed, following pressure and condemnation by activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other citizens.
The PUNCH reports that the prosecution counsel Fidelis Ogbobe, withdrawing the case on behalf of Mrs Buhari, said the First Lady, 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, Ogbobe cited section 108 subsection 2(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court commended Mrs Buhari for withdrawing the case.
Halilu, while issuing the release warrant, called on parents to always monitor their children to avoid recurrence
According to a police report, Mr Muhammed was arrested at Federal University Dutse on November 18, 2022, after Mrs Buhari instructed a team of police detectives to track him down.
The PUNCH reports that the Presidency had earlier barred visitors from visiting inmates at the Suleja Correctional Centre, Niger State, following the arrest of Aminu.
Our correspondent who visited the facility, on Thursday, as an undercover journalist, observed heightened security presence, with a note that reads “No Visitation,” pasted at the entrance.
A security operative who attended to our correspondent at the facility noted that there was an order from the Presidency barring all forms of visitation following Aminu’s arrival at the facility.
Speaking anonymously, he said, “We can’t let you into the facility. No one is allowed to see Aminu. In fact, since he was brought in on Tuesday, no one has been allowed to visit inmates within the facility. You can read the note on the wall, no visitation is allowed, and I don’t want to lose my job.”
The officer, however, noted that Aminu has lacked food since he arrived at the facility on Tuesday, adding that he only had N2000 on him which had been spent, and could not afford to get food since no one has been allowed to visit or call him.
He added, “I feel for the boy, he arrived here with just N2000, and it is finished. He complained of hunger today, but there was nothing we could do since no one has been allowed to visit or call him. He only ate bread this morning.”
Amnesty International Nigeria had also condemned the arrest and alleged torture of Aminu Muhammed, adding that the 500-level undergraduate of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa must be released and the charges against him, which it described as bogus, be dropped. The PUNCH reports.
Following reports that he has allegedly been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings, since being detained, AI said, “The Nigerian authorities must urgently release Aminu Muhammed and drop all charges against him. He is a student accused of defaming Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria, on Twitter.”
According to a police report, Aminu was arrested at the Federal University Dutse on November 18, 2022, 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.
Reacting to this, the Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho 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. This deeply repressive act brazenly violates his human rights.
“The bogus charges against Aminu must be urgently and unconditionally dropped. The authorities should instead 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.
“Aminu’s final exams are scheduled for December 5, 2022, at the Federal University Dutse. He must be urgently freed and be able to finish his degree.”
On November 29, 2022, Aminu was charged with Cybercrime, Cybersquatting, Computer Related Forgery, Conspiracy and Criminal Breach of Trust.
Amnesty International noted that, although President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) ratified the Anti-Torture Act in 2017, torture and other ill-treatment remain pervasive in Nigeria, with police and state security agents continuing to subject detainees to torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.
Ojigho added, “The heavy-handed mistreatment of Aminu is a clear attempt to strike fear into the hearts of young Nigerians who use social media to hold the powerful to account. The Nigerian authorities must urgently respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.
“Amnesty International is 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 criticize the state. This must stop now.”