Premium Times reports that Mabai, based in Katsina, was arrested by officers of the Nigerian Police Force on Monday in Kaduna.A Nigerian blogger Jamil Mabai on Thursday spent his fourth night in detention for writing a controversial blog post that criticized Katsina State governor’s purchase of 3,000 metal coffins.
The blogger is a known critic of the Katsina administration led by Aminu Masari on his blog, Cliqq Magazine.
A Magistrate Court in Katsina on Thursday declined jurisdiction to try him. The judge instead asked that he be further detained.
Mabai’s arrest is believed to have been ordered by the governor, a claim the latter’s spokesperson denied.
Trouble reportedly began for Mabai when he blogged a post condemning the recent purchase of 3,000 metal coffins for distribution to Mosques in Katsina State.
Mabai said by purchasing the coffins, Masari is simply saying “Katsina people deserve to die”.
He also questioned the rationale behind buying the coffins at N40,000 each at a time the government was unable to pay civil servants outstanding arrears of salaries.
Writing via his tweeter handle, @jaymb000 Mabai said, “What have we done to deserve this? Why will a Gov. Purchase coffins with public money?”
Mabai is the fifth blogger who would be arrested and detained for politically motivated reasons under the change administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
His arrest is coming on the heels of the arrest and detention two weeks ago of another blogger, Emenike Iroegbu, on the orders of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State. Mr. Iroegbu who publishes Abia Facts Newspaper was accused of defaming Mr. Ikpeazu. He allegedly published a story accusing the governor of burying a 9-year-old boy in the government House, Umuahia.
Recall that in September 2015, Emmanuel Ojo a Nigerian blogger based in Ogun State was arrested by the Police for accusing the wife of the state governor, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun of allegedly laundering $300,000 in London.
Similarly, another blogger, Abubakar Usman, who publishes abusidiqu.comwas recently arrested and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who accused him of “cyber stalking”. He was released after much public condemnation.
In August 2015, a blogger, Musa Babale Azare was arrested by policemen in Abuja, allegedly for criticising Bauchi state governor, Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar.
Critics of the Buhari administration say this gale of arrests is part of a sinister ploy to set the ground narrative to go after the more professional and influential online publishers perceived to be anti-establishment.
While supporters of President Buhari argue that most of these arrests were not ordered by Buhari himself, critics say the President’s “body language” and the silence of his government in the face of gross violations of press freedom provide an incentive for more violations to occur across the country. Many have cited the silence of his government when the EFCC, an agency of the Federal Government arrested and detained a blogger, Abubakar Usman without any charge, as a tacit endorsement of the Buhari administration to what is fast becoming a nationwide clamp down on freedom of expression.
Buhari’s regime as a military head of state recalls a dark brutal era when journalists were brutalised and detained without charge. His Decree No. 4 of 1984 was the most draconian and most repressive law against freedom of the press ever enacted in Nigeria.