The police have again arrested Audu Maikori, CEO of Chocolate City Entertainment, his lawyer said Friday.
The development came exactly three weeks after Mr. Maikori was first arrested in Lagos and detained for 24 hours in Abuja on allegations of posting “inciting” materials on the Internet.
Mark Jacobs, the label executive’s attorney, said his client was arrested on Friday morning and transported to Kaduna.
“I am aware that the police in Abuja are taking Audu to Kaduna,” Mr. Jacobs told PREMIUM TIMES Friday afternoon.
The police in Abuja and Kaduna did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments on the situation Friday afternoon.
Mr. Maikori’s latest ordeal comes exactly a week after Governor Nasir El-Rufai pledged to ensure his thorough prosecution for allegedly circulating inflammatory materials capable of exacerbating the deadly conflict in Southern Kaduna.
“What he posted may have led to killings and we are trying to link the dates of the posting to attacks that may have happened the next day on Fulanis and if we are able to establish that causation, as lawyers, we know what it means,” Mr. El-Rufai said in Lagos March 4. “It is totally irresponsible to do that.”
Mr. Maikori, 41, was first arrested in Lagos in the afternoon of February 17 for allegedly trying to “incite” the public. He was subsequently transferred to Force Headquarters in Abuja for interrogations.
Mr. Jacobs said the arrest was in connection with a series of tweets posted by Mr. Maikori about seven weeks ago in which he alleged the killing of some Southern Kaduna students by Fulani herdsmen.
But details of the tweets, which Mr. Maikori said were obtained from his driver, turned out to be false, earning him vicious social media backlash.
Mr. Maikori later retracted and apologised for the false information.
A magistrate in Kaduna issued a warrant for his arrest, his lawyer said.
He was released on bail February 18, but the police said he “will be charged to court promptly.”
Police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, told PREMIUM TIMES investigations were underway and Mr. Maikori will be arraigned after preliminary findings.
“You know investigation is a scientific approach —to actually tell the court that ‘this is the person that committed so, so and so offence’. So there’s no timeline for conclusion of investigation,” he said at the time.
Mr. Jacobs told PREMIUM TIMES today that his client was released because the police “found nothing substantial to warrant prosecution.”
It was not immediately clear if Mr. El-Rufai was involved in today’s arrest—or if it was based on the same pretexts for which he was first arrested. The governor’s spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiries.
The news immediately sent the entertainment executive trending at number one again on Nigerian Twitter Friday afternoon, but Nigerians were initially divided on the essence of his arrest.
Over 200 have been killed and thousands more displaced in the latest violence between Fulani herdsmen and southern Kaduna residents, according to official estimates.
A curfew Mr. El-Rufai imposed in Zangon Kataf was relaxed mid-last month. But a fresh one that was imposed in another local government a few days apart was yet to be lifted.
Mr. El-Rufai said the attackers were herdsmen from neighbouring countries who had returned to avenge attacks on their relatives and livestock back in 2011.
The governor came under fire after admitting he had sent payments to the attackers to compensate for their losses, as part of efforts by his government to end the bloodshed.
A foundation laid by the Nigerian Army for the construction of a military base in the area was destroyed last month.