A 17-year-old boy, Stephen Tabulo, was arrested by the police for reportedly endorsing the 2019 senatorial ambition of the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, on Facebook.
Here is where it gets strange: Tabulo’s arrest was ordered by the Commissioner for Environment, Gabriel Akaaka, who is in Al-Makura’s cabinet.
“I ordered the arrest and detention of the 17-year-old student, Stephen Tabulo, for openly declaring support for the 2019 senatorial bid of the state Governor Umaru Al-Makura on Facebook,” Akaaka said.
Three issues to unpack:
- Is political endorsement of a governor for senate now a criminal offence?
- How is it that a commissioner in Al-makura’s cabinet is so opposed to his boss that he ordered the arrest of a JSS3 student who endorsed him?
- How can the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) team of the state police command, agree to arrest a citizen on the basis of an endorsement?
How it happened:
- An ally of the commissioner, one Hon. Peter Igbacher, shared a Daily Sun story with the caption ‘2019: stakeholders plot against Almakura’s senatorial ambition’ on his Facebook page.
- Tabulo responded to the post accusing Akaaka of holding clandestine meetings with Alago people to stop the senatorial ambition of the governor in 2019.
- An example of Tabulo’s Facebook post that landed him in trouble: “TA,AL (Almakura’s nickname) is already declared as a winner in 2019, they can’t stop TA,AL to win 2019 senate, Tanko Al-makura is our best candidate in 2019.”
Here is what Tabulo said after he was released: “I’m a JSS III student at Government Secondary School Adudu, Lafia local government area of Nasarawa state, I came to Lafia to visit my elder brother when I decided to contribute to a facebook discussion on the wall of Hon Peter Igbacher where I declared my full support to the senatorial ambition of the governor
“My only offence is my support to the governor’s ambition. The SARS policemen traced me throughout the weekend on the order of the commissioner and later arrested me on Monday afternoon at the residence of the councilor representing Assakyo ward, Hon. Dauglas Charmeh, they told me that my offence was my comment on Facebook declaring support for the governor’s senate ambition.”
He said that his arrest and detention would not deter him from supporting the governor to go to the Senate in 2019, noting that his support was based on justice, equity and fairness and vowed to continue to identify with the governor. The teenager also urged the Tiv people to remain united and support Governor Al-makura to succeed.
Meanwhile: The Commissioner for Environment now says he regrets his actions by ordering the police to arrest the boy. He said that he would call the police to withdraw the matter.