Wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, is billed to testify against Aminu Adamu, a student of Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, who allegedly defamed her.
Adamu, 24, was alleged to have published a defamatory statement on his Twitter handle against Mrs Buhari.
In the tweet, Adamu, who is a final year student of 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 June 8, but Adamu, tracked by a team of detectives, was arrested in Dutse, Jigawa State, on November 18, and whisked to Abuja.
After nearly two weeks in detention, Adamu was arraigned on Tuesday before Justice 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 against Adamu, the police said “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 offence borders on defamation and cyberstalking, and contravened Section 391 of the Penal Code.
In a list of witnesses attached to the proof of evidence filed by the police, Mrs Buhari, the nominal complainant, is one of the five witnesses assembled by the prosecution to establish the case against 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, listed Adamu’s statement, a print out of the alleged defamatory post and an IPhone belonging to the defendant, as exhibits.
How police arrested Adamu
Details have emerged on how Adamu was arrested by the police.
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.
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 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,” Josiah said in his statement dated November 19.
He said the undergraduate was brought to the FCT State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).
According to court filings, 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, Adamu has urged the court to grant him bail.
In a bail application dated November 25, Adamu’s lawyer, Kingsley Agu, sought an order admitting his client to bail pending the determination of the suit.
He promised his application on the grounds that defendant had never been charged for any crime.
Agu added that the defendant was treating a “3rd degree fire burn on his left arm and has been in severe pains since his arrest and detention…”
The defence lawyer revealed that his client was “seized on November 18, 2022, by operatives of the DSS before he was handed over to the nominal complainant (Mrs Buhari).”
The judge adjourned the case till January 30, for the hearing of the defendant’s bail application.
But the defendant is said to be having an examination on December 5.
There have been calls from civil society organisations and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) for Adamu’s release.
The students body gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the first lady to release Adamu unconditionally.