Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and Amnesty International have collectively condemned the judgement given to two comedians, Mubarak Muhammad and Nazifi Bala by a Nigerian High Court in Kano State
A Kano State Magistrates’ Court on Monday ordered that the two comedians be given 20 lashes for defaming the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on their Tiktok account.
IsL had earlier reported that the duo were accused of posting that Governor Ganduje “sleeps a lot” on their Tiktok account.
Magistrate Aminu Gabari, in his ruling, also ordered the duo to sweep and wash the toilets on the premises of the magistrates’ court for 30 days plus a directives for 20 lashes to be melted on them in public.
The magistrate also ordered the convicts to pay a fine of N10,000 each for defaming Ganduje and another N10,000 for causing a public disturbance.
Senior Magistrate Gabari similarly administered non-custodial terms against the convicts and ordered them to produce a video on social media to tender an apology to the governor.
However, reacting via its verified Twitter account, Amnesty International said the decision to remand them in prison for a week without trial is a brazen violation of their fair trial rights.
“Amnesty International condemns the sentencing of TikTokers Mubarak Muhammad (Uniquepikin) and Nazifi Muhammad for allegedly defaming the governor of Kano state in northern Nigeria,” the group said.
“The decision to remand them in prison for a week without trial is a brazen violation of their fair trial rights. Satirizing those in authority is not a crime. Nigerian authorities must immediately quash this appalling sentence.”
Similarly, SERAP urged President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and Ganduje to immediately reverse the sentences and release the duo unconditionally.
The organisation threatened to sue the government if the TikTokers are not unconditionally released.
“The Buhari administration and governor Abdullahi Ganduje must immediately reverse the cruel flogging sentences of two TikTok skit makers, Mubarak Muhammad and Nazifi Muhammad.
“We’ll see in court if the skit makers are not immediately and unconditionally released,” SERAP said.
Ganduje had been captured engaging in some corrupt practices, including being captured in video clips which trended in 2018 where the governor allegedly received a bribe amounting to about $5 million from contractors in the state.
Although Ganduje’s face clearly shows in the video clips while collecting bundles of the alleged bribe, the governor denied the allegation.
The governor sued the journalist and publisher of Daily Nigerian, Ja’afar Ja’afar over the story and the videos but later withdrew the case, following which the Kano State High Court in 2021 fined Ganduje N800,000 for discontinuing his defamation suit against the journalist.