JIGAWA State social critic Sabi’u Ibrahim Chamo has been sentenced to six month in prison by a Dutse magistrates court after being found guilty of defaming Governor Badaru Abubakar in his Facebook page.
In the first such incidence of its type, Mr Chamo was sentenced by the Chief Magistrates Court One sitting in Dutse, presided over by Batula Dauda. However, his sentence came with the options of a N20,000 fine and 20 stroke of cane, which he could opt for to avoid the custodial sentence.
Certain to attract widespread condemnation as an abuse of the freedom of speech, the judgement was handed down after Mr Chamo pleaded guilty to the offence. Zainab Baba Santali, a spokeswoman for the Jigawa State Ministry of Justice, said the fact of the case was that Mr Chamo had made a post on his Facebook page and made a malicious statements about the state governor.
Over recent years, critics have been jailed in northern Nigeria but this has been mainly under Sharia law whereby they have been found guilty of blaspheming Islam. Given the precedence this case sets, human rights groups may decide to take up Mr Chamo case and file an appeal as his sentencing could lead to a clampdown on free speech.