Nigerian student charged with ‘criminal defamation’ over first lady tweet

Aisha Buhari

The lawyer for a Nigerian student facing allegations of defaming the wife of the state’s president over an insulting tweet said his client appeared in a criminal court in Abuja on Thursday.

Aminu Adamu, a 1998-year-old student at the Federal University of Dutse in northern Nigeria, was arrested on November 18 and transferred to Abuja five months after posting the message in which he commented on the physical appearance of First Lady Aisha Buhari and criticised her for “eating the money of the poor,” according to court documents reviewed by AFP.

His arrest, which Amnesty International roundly criticised, came after the president’s wife filed a complaint, according to a source in the judicial system.

On Tuesday, the young man “was hauled before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Magistrate’s Court,” his lawyer Chijioke Agu told AFP by phone. He said, “The charge is defamation.”

Mr Adamu may spend up to two years in prison if found guilty under Nigerian law.

Agu claimed he had requested bail for his client, who is being held in Suleja jail to the northwest of Abuja, and that the hearing had been postponed until January 30.

AFP has seen court records that state the student agreed to posting the offensive tweet, which featured a photo of Mrs Buhari and a statement written in Hausa, the language most often used in northern Nigeria.

According to a statement released by Amnesty International on Sunday, Adamu’s family and relatives alleged he has been beaten, tortured, and otherwise mistreated.

An “illegal arrest” was also condemned by Amnesty, which demanded his “immediate and unconditional release.”

A foremost Nigerian student group (NANS) called for a statewide demonstration on Monday in favour of Mr Adamu. NANS said, “Our demonstrations must continue until his unconditional release.”

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