The police in Abuja on Wednesday arrested a vocal promoter of the Labour Party as part of a defamation suit that has simmered since late February.
Nnamdi Chude, known across the microblogging website Twitter for his staunch pro-Labour advocacy, was taken into custody after honouring a police invitation in an alleged defamation claim brought by controversial businessman Emeka Offor.
Mr Chude, according to sources familiar with the development, was detained around 12:00 p.m. after reporting at the police headquarters in Abuja. He was told that Mr Offor had decided to sue for defamation and he would be kept in custody for trial.
Francis Obuzor, an Abuja-based attorney representing Mr Chude on the matter, said the police have prepared charges — and his client may be arraigned on Thursday morning before a magistrate in the nation’s capital.
While The Gazette confirmed that Mr Chude was being held at a facility used by the Interpol in Nigeria, the body denied involvement in the arrest.
“He is not in our custody, this matter could be with the cybercrime unit but not our department at Interpol,” said Garba Umar, an assistant inspector-general of police, on Wednesday afternoon. “We have nothing to do with the case.”
Today’s detention came weeks exactly one month after Mr Chude was arrested in Anambra and transported to Abuja by officers attached to the police cybercrime unit. The police later said the matter was linked to a tweet by Mr Chude that allegedly cast Mr Offor in an odious light.
The tweet said Mr Offor was plotting with Bola Tinubu to compel Peter Obi to accept the disputed presidential election of February 25. Mr Offor strongly denied the allegation, but Mr Chude was released from custody after being made to record a video retracting and apologising for the offensive tweet.
Following Mr Chude’s apology and release from custody on March 24, there were indications that the matter would no longer be pursued by Mr Offor. It remained unclear why the billionaire oil trader decided to file fresh charges, which the police are moving to prosecute under criminal defamation statutes.
Mr Offor declined to comment on his lawsuit and police’s intervention when reached by The Gazette on Wednesday afternoon.