Student Arrested for Insulting First Lady on Twitter Is Freed From Prison

Activists in Nigeria threatened mass protests after Aminu Adamu Muhammed was detained for nearly a month for tweeting about Aisha Buhari.
Dipo Faloyin
London, GB
Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari arrives with his wife Aisha, before taking oath of office at the Eagles Square in Abuja
Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari arrives with his wife Aisha, before taking oath of office at the Eagles Square in Abuja. Photo: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

A student arrested for allegedly insulting Nigeria’s first lady in a tweet has been released from custody, days after activists threatened nationwide protests.  

Aminu Adamu Muhammed was detained for nearly a month after reportedly tweeting in June that Aisha Buhari had gotten “fatter by eating the masses’ money.” According to Amnesty International, Aminu was tortured after he was picked up on the campus of the Federal University Dutse in the northern state of Jigawa. In a statement, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) also claimed that the student had been “brutalised, beaten, maltreated and humiliated by the Police on the orders of Aisha Buhari.” 

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Aminu was eventually charged with “defamation, cyberstalking and conspiracy,” to which he pleaded not guilty.  The 23-year-old student’s arrest sparked anger across the country and condemnation from human rights groups. 

But activists and campaigners in Nigeria are now celebrating Aminu’s release, which came a day after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) announced plans for nationwide protests this week if the charges were not dropped “unconditionally.” At the same time, SERAP, a prominent nonprofit legal advocacy group, announced it would be filing a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian police. 

In a series of tweets after his release, Aminu thanked campaigners and described his detention as “the darkest hours of his life.” He went on to apologise for his tweets, saying he never meant to hurt the first lady’s feelings. 

Following the announcement that the charges had been dropped, NANS has called for Aisha Buhari to apologise for Aminu's detention and alleged torture, and to compensate the family for the ordeal. 

“Madam Aisha Buhari should apologise publicly in at least four daily newspapers,” the organisation said in a statement. “Aminu and his family should be compensated for the inhumane condition the first family had thrown them into in the last few days.

“These principles are what we consider as the fundamental basis for demanding the release of the unjustly victimized Nigerian student, Aminu Adamu, who had only said nothing but the truth which is visible to all”.