For criticising the authorities at federal and state levels, journalists and critics are at risk of bogus criminal charges, a journalist, Oladimeji Ramoni reports.
Social media user and critic, Stephen Kefason, has been in prison custody since May 2019. He was incarcerated after posting some messages on Twitter and Facebook that some highly placed Nigerians considered to be ‘offensive’.
Earlier in January, for example, he posted a video on Twitter, which alleged that some teachers in Kaduna State were protesting over unpaid salaries. This annoyed Governor Nasir el-Rufai so much that he challenged Kefason to substantiate the claim or prepare to answer charges in court.
Recalling that such action had once led to the killing of about 800,000 people in two weeks in Rwanda, the governor had said, “Free speech should not be false, injurious, irresponsible, hateful and divisive. The Penal Code is clear. The Criminal Code is clear.”
Before now, it was normal for people who felt maligned by media publications to sue for libel or defamation of character. In the cases of Kefason and many others, there appears to be a clear departure from the norm.