© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Buhari’s aide, Ahmad denies statement purported to influence court’s judgment on rape case
BASHIR Ahmad, a presidential aide and personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media has come under fire on social media for a recent post in which he promised to intervene in the case of one Yunusa Dahiru, who was recently sentenced to 26 -year imprisonment for child trafficking and sexual exploitation of Ese Oruru.
Dahiru, also known as Yellow, was charged in Bayelsa for reportedly abducting Oruru in 2015, aged 13 at the time. It was reported that he took the minor to Kano State and forcefully married and impregnated her.
As a result he was arraigned on a five-count charge of illicit sex, sexual exploitation, criminal abduction and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
Delivering her judgement, Thursday, Justice Jane Inyang, sentenced Yunusa to five years in prison for count 2, and seven years in prison for count 3, 4 and 5 respectively, noting that the prison terms are to be served consecutively,
Following his conviction, a Twitter user identified as Hammad Yusuf Saleh shared a post asking Ahmad to intervene in the case, which he claimed was manipulated.
“Please Bashir, do something about Yunusa Yellow for Allah’s sake, he is wrongly accused and sentenced, the whole matter is manipulated, we need to appeal for him,” his tweet read.
Responding in Hausa, Ahmad said: “My brother, I do not have the power to do anything against the judgment of the court, but I will try to contact those whom I think are capable.”
His statement caused an uproar on Twitter with many calling out Ahmad for confidently announcing that he would try to influence a verdict already passed by a high court, indicating that he is in support of the alleged rape and abduction of a minor.
Following the backlash, Ahmad, shared another post stating that he was unaware of the details of the case and would never support the abduction of a minor, which he described as a ‘condemnable act’.
“I commented on the Yunusa Yellow saga earlier, without knowing and understanding the details of the case. Eloping or rather, kidnapping a minor and forcing her to marry you shouldn’t be taken lightly. A condemnable act!,” his post read.
However the bigger question about his plan to possibly upturn the conviction of Nigerian court was left unanswered.
In a phone interview with The ICIR on Saturday, Ahmad said he was simply being misunderstood.
The president’s aide said what he meant was that he would reach out to people who knew about the outcome of the case to find out what happened, stressing that he had no intention of upturning the conviction or had the power to do so.
“My statement was taken out of context. I have no power to say or do anything but I meant I would find out what happened and if necessary, something will be done. But the Google translation is a direct one and doesn’t reflect what I truly meant.
“In my tweet I never mentioned judges and I regretted my statement after I saw what he (Yellow) did,” Ahmad told The ICIR.
While Ahmad is doubling down on his statement, many social media users are calling for his sack.
A Twitter user identified as Ifeoma Solanke in a tweet submitted: “Will President Buhari sack Bashir for that unguided tweet that puts the presidency, judiciary and Nigeria in a bad light or should we trend #SackBashirNow?”
Her statement is reechoed by many other posts made by Nigerians on social media, agreeing that the statement puts the presidency in disrepute.
Though the presidency is yet to comment officially on the controversy, a source from the Villa chided Ahmad for indiscretion.
“His tweet was unwittingly put out. He did not give it critical thought, he approached it from a sympathetic point of view forgetting that he was an aide to the President, or that he had the clout that such a tweet would suggest many wrong things. If anything, he has apologised and acknowledged his wrongdoing. He should be judged by his repentance, not his sin,” the source told The ICIR.