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Constructive Criticism is the beauty of democracy

Constructive Criticism is the beauty of democracy

It made it to the news that a 300-level student of the Federal University of Dutse, Jigawa state, was arrested and whisked away to Abuja by the operatives of the  State Security Services (SSS) some days back on the offense of criticizing/ slandering the wife of the president of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari on Twitter through a tweet he made.

The young folk tweeted in Hausa which when loosely translated to English says “the wife of the president is getting fatter from eating the collective wealth of the masses while the masses are suffering”. He posted the picture of the president’s wife alongside this tweet. Mrs. Aisha Buhari found this tweet libelous, defamatory, offensive, and abusive and directed that the men of the Department of State Security (DSS) arrest and detain the boy over the tweet.

If you make any threat against any public servant, political office holder, or against the country, even if you are joking or not you will be whisked away by the operatives of the state security services. This is not just “a Nigerian thing”, even in the western world, threats against the life of the president, his family members, or relatives are taken seriously and any threat of terrorism in the country or threat of disturbance of public peace by anybody, be it a joke or a social media banter, the state security have been trained to presume that every of such threat is meant by the originator and the originator has already taken steps in the execution of such threat hence why the DSS jumps into immediate action to respond accordingly and to thwart the threat.

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But, a threat to the life of the president or his family members or a threat against the state should be distinguished and differentiated from constructive criticism against the state or against public office holders or political office holders like the presidents or the governor, and the act of the presidents or governors and arresting or detaining individuals whose only offense is criticism is just an abuse of power.

Therefore, defamatory or libelous words do not transcend to threat to life, hence the only avenue available for Mrs. Aisha Buhari if she feels that she has been defamed by the boy is by her approaching the court to air her grievance and displeasure by instituting a lawsuit for libel or defamation against the boy. Using the security operatives to arrest, oppress and harass her perceived enemy is only painting her as an autocrat and a dictator.

We hope that Mrs. Buhari listens to the voice of reason and lets the boy go; being the wife of the president does not mean she can abuse her powers and privileges and she has taken the law into her hands and she should as well render due apologies and compensate the boy for this ordeal.

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