A Nigerian cleric was publicly flogged in Ebonyi State, South-East Nigeria, about three days ago for allegedly making insulting comments on Facebook against the chairman of a local government area in the state.
The cleric has been identified as Chukwu Obeni.
Those who assaulted him were said to have accused Mr Obeni of posting “fake stories” and insulting the Chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area, in Ebonyi state, Oko Enyim, on Facebook.
Videos and photos of the incident, posted on Facebook and Twitter, have attracted outrage from many Nigerians.
In one of the videos, the cleric, wearing boxers only, is seen kneeling down and crying for help. His hands are being tied behind his back.
Apart from being lashed about 35 strokes with horsewhip, Mr Obeni was thrown into a dirty gutter and forced to “swim” for some minutes, Sampson Nweke, a human rights campaigner in Ebonyi, said.
Mr Nweke said he and his human rights group assisted Mr Obeni to hospital in Abakiliki where he is receiving treatment.
The police spokesperson in Ebonyi State, Loveth Odah, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that one person has been arrested in relation to the incident, while the police have commenced investigation.
The chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area, Mr Enyim, did not respond to calls and text messages from PREMIUM TIMES at the time this report was being filed.
With growing unemployment and poverty, and the collapse of public infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation, many Nigerians are taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction with government and public officials.
The assault on Mr Obeni underscores the intolerance to criticism and the lack of regard for the justice system in Nigeria.
The National Bureau of Statistics classifies Ebonyi as one of the poorest states in Nigeria, alongside others like Sokoto, Taraba, Jigawa, Zamfara, Yobe and Adamawa.