Audu Maikori is the Founder of Chocolate City Entertainment and one of the most vocal advocates against the spate of killings in Southern Kaduna, Nigeria. At noon on Friday, he was picked up by men of the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos and was flown to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Mr Maikori’s lawyer, Mark Jacobs told Premium Times on Friday that the warrant for his client’s arrest was signed by a magistrate in Kaduna and Mr Maikori was going to be charged for an “attempt to incite the public”.
As against inciting the public, Audu Maikori has used various media platforms especially Twitter to call the attention of Nigerians to the reality in Southern Kaduna. In December 2016 when the attacks in the region escalated and information provided by traditional news sources were sketchy, Audu Maikori put out an exhaustive, earnest article detailing the Southern Kaduna situation from the citizen’s perspective. With that piece, he called on the local media to “educate the public and the world on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region“. According to him, Nigerians had little or no idea of the seriousness of the situation. At the time, he was believable until…
The false account
Audu Maikori had added to his credibility. Here was a man who knows where the shoes hurt, a native of Kaduna who got first hand, untainted information from relatives and acquaintances in the troubled region. Late January though, two prominent social commentators on Twitter helped rewrite Maikori’s narrative. They accused him of spreading falsehood, of making up stories and more importantly, misleading Nigerians by using images that falsely represent the happenings in Southern Kaduna.
This was an attack on his integrity and character and it was as a result of a story he had earlier shared, a story he said was told to him by his driver. A story that turned out to have been concocted by the driver who only tried to rip him off for financial gains. The erring driver, Mr Simon Joseph had told Mr Maikori that his younger brother was maimed by Fulani herdsmen along with 5 students of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, Kaduna. He added that only the driver of the vehicle the victims traveled was spared because he was Fulani. The story was published on various news sites that did not bother to check its veracity with the authorities.
The College of Education that was named issued a statement denying the loss of any of its students in the incident described. The Kaduna State Government also got to action by denying the incidence and condemning the inaccurate information. With the enormity of these events, Audu Maikori tendered an apology in which he detailed the circumstances, justified his innocence and still pressed on in his resolve to call for an end to the Southern Kaduna killings.
Enemy of the state?
Following his apology, some members of the Twitter commentary were still not satisfied. For them, Audu Maikori had misled the public and was deserving of punishment. The masterminds of this Twitter attack launched on Mr Maikori successfully redirected public attention from the staggering number of deaths and the chaos that was still ongoing in Southern Kaduna. In that period of time, Southern Kaduna killings became about Audu, the narrative wrapped around him. We were no longer calling for the head of the Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai who admitted that his government had paid the Fulani herdsmen to stop the killings, Audu became the most accessible prey.
Between his apology and his arrest, Audu Maikori had been notably silent on the Southern Kaduna matter. The Kaduna state government has yet to make a public statement on why Audu was arrested but other than the attempt to incite the public for which he has reportedly been charged, Mr Maikori may just be the proverbial scapegoat in all of this.