According to a judicial spokeswoman, two TikTok comedians have been publicly lashed in Nigeria for creating a video that a court in the northern Kano State found to have slandered the governor of the state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
For uttering disparaging remarks against the governor, Mubarak Isah Muhammad, 26, and Nazifi Muhammad Bala, 23, each received 20 lashes, according to Baba Jibo Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Kano State Judiciary.
Ibrahim claims that the two companions, who appeared before a magistrate’s court on Friday, were sentenced on Monday. According to a representative for the judiciary, they were remanded in detention over the weekend.
“They acknowledged their guilt. According to Ibrahim, they didn’t even ask or plead for a counsel to defend them.
“They were charged with defaming the reputation of Governor Umar Ganduje on their TikTok social media account before the Kano State Magistrate Court. They pleaded guilty to the two counts of “defamation of character and inciting public disorder” after the charges were read to them, Ibrahim added.
The two men’s lawyer has also been reached by CNN in an effort to get their comments.
According to Saifullahi Ibrahim, a close friend who visited the men in jail, the TikTok video was created four years ago and has only now come to light online. Ibrahim claimed to have known the two men for more than ten years.
The young men were also ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 naira (about Ksh.2,764) each and clean the courthouse for 30 days, including “sweeping the court premises and scrubbing the court’s toilets,” according to Ibrahim.
Additionally, they were told to record a social media apology video for Governor Ganduje.
Amnesty International Nigeria’s director, Osai Ojigho, criticized the decision and asserted that “satirizing individuals in authority is not a crime.”
The Nigerian government was urged by the human rights organization to “quickly nullify this horrific sentence.”
Inibehe Effiong, a human rights attorney, wants the magistrate’s court decision to be appealed to a higher court.
“I don’t comprehend the justification for public flogging. Such a penalty is cruel and at odds with the human being’s claim to dignity, Effiong told CNN.
Additionally, it is questionable if they received a fair trial. I think the two guys should take action to appeal the ruling to a higher court.
The ability of citizens to criticize their leaders was also emphasized by Effiong.
“Freedom of expression is a constitutional privilege granted to citizens, and this right should be upheld, especially when it comes to those who hold public office. According to the constitution, citizens have the right to criticize them, he said.
The people had previously criticized Governor Ganduje after a video that leaked on local media in 2018 purported to show him taking home substantial sums of money in a flowing robe that were thought to be bribe money.
All charges have been refuted by the governor.
The northern Nigerian city of Kano follows a stringent application of Sharia law. Blasphemy convictions are frequent in this mostly Muslim nation where the Hisbah Corps, a religious police organization, upholds a strict interpretation of Sharia law.