Does a Curse on Facebook Justifies User’s Arrest?

A Nigerian inhabitant of Jigawa has lately been committed to prison because of an unusual case. He posted a pointed curse on his Facebook profile about one of representatives of Jigawa’s authorities.

The defendant, called Moukhtar Ibrahim Aminu, asked for “divine punishment” for Sule Lamido, governor of the city, who is known as one of the founders of People’s Democratic Party formed more than ten years ago.

The importance of a curse in Nigeria should not be underestimated as religious views are of great concern there.

The U.K. Press Association reported that literal translation of the Aminu’s curse sounds as “Allah curse Sule Lamido and all his useless friends. Allah make Sule Lamido and his friend useless.”

Such an imprecation is considered as a serious threat for life in religious countries like Nigeria. But state law, dated 1983, proclaimed liberty of speech. Nevertheless Moukhtar Ibrahim Aminu was arrested and took into custody for seven days at the direction of the governor. Governor’s office did not comment its action.

It is supposed that the curse may have some influence on presidential election in Nigeria in April as it may shake present governor’s confidence of win.

Can this jailing be considered as restriction of freedom of speech? Can posting of a curse on Facebook charge the person with a crime?

Dmitry Oreshko

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