On Friday, February 17, 2017, Audu Maikori, an attorney, and entertainment executive, was arrested for publishing false news on social media (Twitter) regarding killings by herdsmen of five students. The police arrested Maikori despite his written apology and retraction of his statements, of which he claimed he was misled.
Twenty-four hours after his arrest and a hashtag that went viral titled #FreeAudu, Maikori has now been released. I am happy that Maikori has been released, but I am not too thrilled with his follow-up statements regarding his arrest. (I think the last part of his statement could come across as arrogant and also fails to take into account the role the government has played in releasing him, when they didn’t have to, and his own open letter acknowledging that he was wrong and in fact published fake news).
Suffice it to say I think it is critical for Maikori to acknowledge the public, but I also think he should tune into the (aforementioned) key players, and take control of the narrative in a way that can yield positive results for all, especially given his specific facts. I would also add that while it may not seem obvious to him, he needs a very strong legal advisory crisis management team to help him, given the facts.
Frankly, I find former education minister and Bring Back Our Girls advocate Dr. Oby Ezekwesili’sstatements regarding Maikori’s strategy to be good advice.
In relevant part, she said in discussing her attempt to persuade the government to release him:
“I urged the @GovKaduna to get @Audu out and he replied that his policy of consequences was important for stemming killings in #SouthernKaduna.”
“The @GovKaduna stated that the actions for which @Audu apologised inflamed the #SouthernKaduna conflict more and so the law taking its course.”
“I asked the @GovKaduna to consider @Audu’s apology and his unfortunate arrest as a teachable moment for both the government and everyone.
“Upon release today, I very much hope that @GovKaduna and @Audu can find points of collaboration on #SouthernKaduna after this sad episode.” (bolded for emphasis)
The very last advice by Ezekwesili is one I believe Maikori needs to really heed.
In the meantime, in a recent interview with The Punch Newspaper, the prosecutor makes clear it intends to prosecute Maikori.
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