Protests as EFCC quizzes blogger for allegedly cyber -stalking Magu
Anti-graft agency exceeding its bounds, says HURIWA
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday quizzed a blogger, Abubakar Sidique and publisher of Abusidique.com.Already, his arrest has created a social media storm, with his friends vigorously trending #FreeAbuSidiq, aimed at creating enough social media buzz to mount pressure on the authorities to release him.
Abusidiqu is a known supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. In the months leading to last year’s general elections, his blog was fierce in its criticisms of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The real reason for Sidique’s detention by the anti-graft agency was not immediately clear. It was gathered that EFCC operatives stormed his residence in Abuja yesterday morning, searching his apartment before eventually whisking him away to their headquarters.
According to a source, Abusidiqu’s arrest may be connected to his latest posts on the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu. The source said: “He might have been arrested over his latest post entitled ‘EFCC boss, Magu commences total war with core EFCC staff’.
“The report stated that the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, spearheaded the suspension of some dedicated staff of the anti-graft agency that exposed the criminalities perpetuated by his predecessor, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde. The report also stated that Magu is lobbying some Nigerian senators with financial inducements so that he can be confirmed by the red chamber.”
But Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, defended the action on his twitter handle yesterday. Ahmad said: “Why #FreeAbuSidiq. Get it clear… Mr. AbuSadiq is not arrested by the EFCC. He is only invited to answer some questions. He will be with us soon.”
Head of Media and Publicity at the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, also confirmed the arrest, but said he was arrested for ‘cyber-stalking’.His words: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission today arrested Mr. Abubakar Sidiq Usman, a blogger, for offences bordering on cyber stalking. The suspect, who is the publisher of Abusidiqu.com, was picked up at his Kubwa, Abuja home in the early hours of Monday August 8, by operatives of the EFCC and is currently being questioned over the alleged offence which contravenes sections of the Cyber Crime Act.”
In a reaction to the development, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, asked the EFCC to be conscious of its original mandate.
He told The Guardian that the EFCC doesn’t have the jurisdiction to enforce the Cybercrime Act, particularly as it concerns publications deemed malicious.“Under Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, the press, including the online media, must be allowed to act as the true conscience of the nation. Then there is this draconian provision in the 2015 cyber-crime prevention Act, which says police can be invited to arrest bloggers upon report of threats to life or blackmail.“Under that provision only the Nigeria Police has the statutory powers to enforce the law as enshrined under the cybercrime prevention Act of 2015.”