Nigerian First Lady ends Twitter defamation case against student

Nigeria had previously banned Twitter after the company deleted one of President Buhari’s posts for violating its rules. — Reuters

The wife of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari withdrew a defamation case against a student accused of insulting her on Twitter after the arrest triggered an angry reaction in the West African country.

Aminu Adamu Muhammed was brought before Aisha Buhari in the presidential villa and later detained before being charged on Nov 21 in the capital, Abuja, according to court documents. He was accused of posting a captioned image of the first lady that he knew to be false and capable of damaging her reputation, the charge sheet shows.

The first lady applied to discontinue the case on Friday, three days after Muhammed was formally arraigned, according to the prosecuting and defence lawyers. The decision came following calls from Amnesty International for the urgent release of the 24-year-old and from an association of Nigerian students for nationwide protests starting on Dec 5.

Police witness statements filed in the case indicated a high level of personal involvement by the president’s wife and her staff in the tracking and detention of Muhammed. One officer described the operation as a "special assignment of the first lady,” while another said he and a colleague had worked for her "as trackers.”

Nigeria had previously banned Twitter after the company deleted one of President Buhari’s posts for violating its rules. The government said the platform was shut down because "unscrupulous elements” used it for "subversive purposes and criminal activities, propagating fake news, and polarising Nigerians along tribal and religious lines.”

The country lifted the San Francisco-based social media giant’s seven-month suspension in January. – Bloomberg

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