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BBA Winner Idris Sultan Arrested For ‘Bullying’ Tanzanian President

Idris Sultan | Image: Instagram/idrissultan

Idris Sultan | Image: Instagram/idrissultan

Tanzanian actor and comedian, Idris Sultan who won the Big Brother Africa show in 2014, has been arrested for allegedly bullying the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli.

A recent video clip showed him laughing at an old photograph of President Magufuli, wearing an over-sized suit. The photo has been making the rounds on Tanzania’s social media space in the past weeks.

Sultan’s lawyer Bennedict Ishabakaki confirmed to the BBC that the comedian was detained on Tuesday and has been denied bail. The police officially questioned the comedian and reality TV star on Thursday for allegedly violating the country’s controversial Cybercrimes Act, Ishabakaki said.

“They are questioning him for allegedly contravening section 23 of the act. In a nutshell, they [the police] are accusing him of bullying the president through that video clip,” Ishabakaki told the BBC.

“But I strongly believe, as a comedian, my client is only doing satire, and satire can be political as well.”

The law states that someone should not “initiate or send any electronic communication using a computer system to another person with intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause emotional distress”.

If convicted, the comedian could face imprisonment for at least three years or a fine of 5m Tanzanian shillings (₦837,790) or both.

This is not the first time Sultan is running afoul of the Cybercrime law. In October 2019, Idris Sultan was arrested under the same law for sharing an edited image of his head on the president’s body and vice versa on Twitter during Magufuli’s birthday. He was later freed without charge.

The caption was in Swahili, and read: “We swapped roles for a day so that he could enjoy his birthday in peace.”

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