The Nigerian Police has arrested Audu Maikori, a lawyer and CEO of Chocolate City Entertainment, on allegations of incitement following a series of tweets by Maikori about an attack on his relatives in Southern Kaduna which eventually proved to be false.
Maikori’s lawyer, Mark Jacobs told journalists that his client was arrested in Lagos on Friday by police officers attached to inspector-general monitoring and intelligence team and was immediately transferred to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
According to the lawyer, the police said that a magistrate issued warrant for Maikori’s arrest and that they are planning to charged him with attempt to “incite” the public.
Maikori had on January 23 this year taken to the social media to narrate an attack that according to him took place in Southern Kaduna, during which some of his driver’s relatives were purportedly killed.
He said that his driver, Simon Joseph, told him that he lost his brother in a Fulani herdsmen ambush in Southern Kaduna and asked to be permitted to travel for the burial.
The tweets read:“My driver’s younger brother and five other students of college of education Gidan Waya were ambushed and killed by herdsmen yesterday #SouthernKaduna.
“They were in a commercial car going back to school when the driver stopped suddenly under the pretext of checking his engine.
“As soon as the car stopped the attackers shot all 6 students but let the driver who is Fulani go. He gave us these details.
“When we speak we are viewed as trouble makers by the Govt. Well I have seen the pictures and it’s a painful sight,”Maikori wrote.
The tweets went viral as many followers of Maikori on twitter picked the story up, and even some online news platforms published it.
However, the Kaduna State College of Education in Gidan Waya, where the incident purportedly happened, two days later, issued a statement saying that no attack of such happened in the school and none of its students died in any herdsmen attack.
The Kaduna State Government condemned the misinformation and a reporter with the Vanguard Newspaper, who had also published the report, was arrested and charged.
Maikori, on his part also apologized for posting the tweets, saying that he was misled by his driver, Joseph.
“I hereby tender an unreserved and sincere apology to the Management of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State and the Kaduna State Government, and also to the people of Southern Kaduna and the Fulani community and also VANGUARD newspapers whose source was my driver for the false statement by my driver which I also publicized believing same to be true,” he wrote on February 4.
Maikori’s lawyer told newsmen that the driver had been arrested a few days ago in Lagos, and was still in detention.
Reacting to the arrest, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, said that Maikori should be released immediately since he had apologised for posting the story.
“They should immediately release him because he had apologised for the tweets and I don’t think the matter is a criminal offence that warrants him being locked up for so many days,” he said.
The new Police Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Magoo, did not comment on the matter.
The Nigerian government say over two hundred persons have been killed in the Southern Kaduna crisis, but the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, say over eight hundred had died.