Human RightsNews

Man Detained Without Trial In Borno Over WhatsApp Comment

Ibrahim Madubi said the allegations levelled against him included criminal intimidation and inciting violence, but he has no idea when he will be charged in court even though it has been over one month. 

Security agents in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno in Northeast Nigeria, arrested Mohammed Ibrahim Madubi on Aug. 25, 2023, over comments he shared in a WhatsApp group. He has not been arraigned in court since.

In one of the comments posted on the social media app, Madubi shared his opinion about the domination of one ethnic group in the state’s politics at the expense of others. This was posted in a group created for politically inclined people from Southern Borno.

Madubi was arrested by officers of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), who claimed to be acting on the orders of Borno’s Deputy Governor, Umar Usman Kadafur. They took him to the Police CRACK station along Airport Road in Maiduguri, where he has been detained.

According to him, the officers questioned him about his social media comments and said this would be tendered as evidence that he was “saying rubbish about the governor”. A few days later, he was also interrogated at the office of the Department of State Services (DSS), where he was shown a second WhatsApp post that said he would have wished death upon the governor, Babagana Zulum, had his religion not been against it.

He said the allegations levelled against him included criminal intimidation and inciting violence, but he has no idea when he will be charged in court.

Garba Yunusa, Madubi’s lawyer, told HumAngle he applied for administrative bail through the Commissioner of Police, but this was turned down.

“My investigation revealed that it is just the executive powers that are controlling the police. They just said he should be kept,” he said.

“Immediately, I applied for the [court action for the enforcement of] fundamental right. Unfortunately, the chief judge couldn’t assign it on time until last week Friday. Now it has been assigned, and tomorrow [Thursday], we will serve them the copy.” 

Madubi told HumAngle he has not been maltreated while in detention. He is allowed to receive visitors, but he does not have access to his phone. The prolonged detention has also affected his livelihood.

“I have been away from my farm. I have some consultancy work to do that I couldn’t do because of the detention,” he said.

“I want the Deputy Governor to release me unconditionally,” he appealed. He also urged members of the public, especially people belonging to opposition political parties, to be careful with their utterances because of violations of the freedom of expression by the authorities.

HumAngle reached out to Isa Gusau, the state government spokesperson, for comments, but did not get a response. A call and text to the police spokesperson, Sani Kamilu, also went unanswered.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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