Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, is billed to testify against Aminu Adamu, a student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, for allegedly defaming her.
Mr Adamu, 24, was alleged to have published a defamatory statement on his Twitter handle against Mrs Buhari.
In the allegedly offending tweet, Mr Adamu, who is a final year student studying Environmental Management, posted a rotund picture of the first lady with a caption in Hausa saying, “Mama is feeding fat on poor people’s money.”
The tweet was posted on 8 June but Mr Adamu, trailed by a team of detectives, was arrested in Dutse, North-West Nigeria, on 18 November and whisked to Abuja.
After nearly two weeks in detention, Mr Adamu was arraigned on Tuesday before a judge, Yusuf Halilu, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court at Maitama, where he pleaded not guilty and was remanded at Suleja prison in Niger State.
In the one-count charge marked: CR/89/2022, and dated 23 November, the police say Mr Adamu “between May and June 2022 within the jurisdiction of this court, did intentionally open a Twitter handle with the name …Catalyst and screenshot the photograph of her Excellency Hajia Aisha Buhari and wrote on it in Hausa language… roughly translated to English language to mean ‘Mama has embezzled monies meant for the poor to satisfaction’ and posted same on your above Twitter handle.. knowing same to be false and capable of affecting her reputation.”
The police said the alleged offence bordering on defamation and cyberstalking, contravened Section 391 of the Penal Code.
In a list of witnesses attached to the proof of evidence filed by the police, seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday night, Mrs Buhari, the nominal complainant, is one of the five witnesses assembled by the prosecution to establish the case against Mr Adamu.
Another witness is Festus Jossiah, one of the investigators that tracked and arrested the defendant.
Abdulsalam Zakari, Yahaya Njayo and Haliru Tahir, all police officers, are the other proposed prosecution witnesses lined up against the defendant.
Court filings signed by James Idachaba, a lawyer at the FCT police legal department in Abuja, listed Mr Adamu’s statement, a print out of the alleged defamatory post and an IPhone belonging to the defendant, as exhibits.
How police tracker team arrested Mr Adamu
Fresh details have also emerged on how Mr Adamu was arrested.
Festus Josiah, a police detective attached to the ‘Anti Vice Section A’ in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, in his statement filed as part of the prosecution’s proof of evidence, disclosed that he was contacted by Mrs Buhari’s Aide De Camp (ADC), Usman Shugaba, concerning the defendant’s tweet.
Mr Josiah said he works with the office of the first lady as a phone “tracker.”
He revealed that his team travelled to Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, on a Monday and trailed Mr Adamu for three days before they tracked him down.
“When we got his phone, an Iphone 7, we saw the Twitter account on the phone. We also saw the (alleged offending) post,” Mr Josiah disclosed in his statement dated 19 November.
He said the undergraduate was brought to the FCT State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).
According to court filings, Mr Adamu’s confiscated phone has been sent to the Terrorism Investigation Branch, Force Intelligence Bureau in Abuja “for analysis” and “evidential value.”
Defendant seeks bail
Meanwhile, Mr Adamu has urged the court to grant him bail.
In a bail applicatiob dated 25 November, Mr Adamu’s lawyer, Kingsley Agu, sought an order admitting his client to bail pending the determination of the suit.
He based his application on the grounds that defendant had never been charged for any crime.
Mr Agu said defendant was treating a “3rd degree fire burn on his left arm and has been in severe pains his arrest and detention…”
The defence lawyer revealed that his client was “seized on 18 November, 2022, by operatives of the SSS before he was handed over to the nominal complainant (Mrs Buhari),” fuelling speculations amongst Nigerians that the first lady tortured Mr Adamu.
The judge adjourned the case until 30 January for the hearing of the defendant’s bail request.
But the defendant is said to be having an examination on 5 December.
There have been calls from civil society organisations like the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) North-west chapter, for Mr Adamu’s release.
The students union gave a two-day ultimatum to Mrs Buhari to ‘release’ Mr Adamu unconditionally.
A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, in a Facebook post, described Mrs Buhari’s conduct as “evil and a gross abuse of power.