January 26, 2023

A 23-year-old student of the Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Adamu Muhammad, has reportedly disappeared without trace after criticising First Lady Aisha Buhari in a tweet on Twitter. According to family sources, the young man was seized by people suspected to be security operatives.

 

In August 2019, Abubakar Idris(a.k.a. Dadiyata), another social media critic, disappeared mysteriously in similar circumstances. The problem with enforced disappearance is that those involved will not admit responsibility or disclose the fate or whereabouts of the victim. The purpose of this lack of of acknowledgement puts the victim outside the protection of the law. As a result, the victim is at the risk of torture and death. Even bandits contact family members after they take their victims into captivity.

 

Since 2019, Dadiyata can’t be accounted for and nobody knows about his fate except those people who abducted him and detached him from his parents and loved ones. If care is not taken, Aminu Adamu may suffer the same fate. That this illegal practice is happening under a democratic government is inconceivable. Enforced disappearance is a gross human right violation and an antithesis of all the decent and civilized standards of democratic societies.

 

Aisha Buhari has the same right as everyone else. Public office holders have the right to protect their own reputations if they feel they are maligned. The First Lady is entitled to the same right. What she is not entitled to is to seek the enforcement of her lawful rights by unlawful means. There is no justification for libel by any citizen against public office holders and their families, but those affected should seek justice through lawful process. Arbitrary use of power can vitiate a good cause.

 

The office of the Attorney General transcends partisanship and therefore Malami must ensure the rights of the citizens are not wilfully and unlawfully violated by the powerful. We enjoy equal protection of the law under our constitution. Democracy without the rule of law is like a body without a soul.

 

The National Assembly should immediately enact a law against enforced disappearance because it’s inconsistent with international law and all civilised laws of democratic societies. President Buhari should immediately intervene in this matter. Enforced disappearance has grave consequences for the human right image of his administration. If the First Lady felt she was maligned, she should approach the court for redress. Endangering the life of any citizen because they offended a public office holder or a member of their family is incongruous with our democratic values.

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