#FreeAbuSidiq is currently the number one trending topic on Twitter, as Nigerians express mixed reactions over the alleged arrest and detention of a popular Abuja-based blogger over a reported publication.
Multiple reports making rounds online and social media, are alleging that an Abuja-based political blogger and publisher of Abusidiqu.com, Abubakar Sidiq, has been arrested by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a publication on his website.
Sidiq’s lawyer, Michael Bello, confirmed the report exclusively to TheCable News on Monday saying that his client was arrested in the morning by 6 operatives of the EFCC, but did not give the full reason for the arrest, only saying it was because of “an online publication’.
“About 8:45am today, some gentlemen walked up to the door of Mr Abubakar Sidiq in Kubwa; they said they were there in respect of a car that someone said was missing. They said they traced the car to the house.
“They asked for the particulars of the vehicle, and he gave it to them. It was at the point of this discussion that the EFCC bus was driven in… One of the men identified himself as Mayana Sambo, a leader of the team from EFCC.
“They now made it obvious that the story of the missing car was a decoy to pull him out of the house. They opened up that he was under arrest in respect of one of his publications. They presented a warrant to search his house, and they searched his house until about 10am. They only left with some documents from the house,”Bello said.
The arrest of the blogger has been buzzing on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeAbuSidiq since morning as the number 1 trending topic.
Meanwhile, Bashir Ahmad, a personal assistant to President Buhari on New Media, has confirmed that the political blogger was this morning invited/arrested by anti-graft agency EFCC.
Confirming the report of the arrest of the blogger, the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) said that a team of stern looking and heavily armed operatives of the Commission led by one Sambo M. Mangana stormed the private residence of the blogger in Abuja with a search warrant and whisked him away in a commando style after they had ransacked his house, without disclosing the reason for the search and arrest.
A statement from Inibehe Effiong, legal practitioner and convener of the COHRD read:
“Although details of Abusidiqu arrest is yet to be made the public by the EFCC, it is worrisome and extremely troubling that the commission will arrest a citizen of Nigeria in a manner reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship.
“Without prejudice to any possible legal basis for the arrest, it is pertinent to state that the EFCC does not have powers under the extant laws, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004, to investigate, arrest, detain or prosecute any person for any alleged offence except in respect of economic and financial crimes.
“Therefore, if it is a truism that the actions taken against the blogger is connected with a critical report he published against the Chairman of the Commission, the implication is that the EFCC has just dealt a fatal blow on the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
“Whatever the allegations against Abubakar Usman may be, the Chairman of the commission should urgently clarify in person or through the Commission’s spokesman, the rationale for the arrest and detention of the blogger.
“In the absence of any allegation of commission of financial or economic crime against the blogger, the EFCC should without delay, release him from custody. The EFCC is not above the law and cannot operate like a state within a state.”