On #FreeSolomonAkuma when does a joke become too extreme against the government?

Solomon Akuma

Social media, for what it’s worth, has given its users a sense of freedom of expression. Social media is like a house with many rooms where people miss their way to their own room – one big house of confusion and calculated chaos.

The above is yet again, evident in a fresh Twitter trend where Nigerians are debating the freedom of Solomon Akuma over a post he made on social media in February which threatened the life of the president, Buhari, and his former chief of staff, late Abba Kyari.

A backstory. Solomon in his post shared that he needed $1M to pay Russian assains to eliminate the president and his chief of staff. At the point, his Twitter profile described him as a pharmacist and a United Nation ambassador. Following that, he was picked up by the police, arrested and detained on the charges that he is a terrorist and his content posed a threat to the president and national security – as expected, Solomon waved the ‘I was only joking’ flag – but the federal government failed to pick the signal.

It’s been six months since his detention and a thread have reopened the conversation calling for his freedom, with #FreeSolomonAkuma.  The trend has also been tied to the #BuhariHasFaild, #RevolutionNow, #EnoughisEnough trend which is valid for all they stand for. But the real question remains – with the freedom of expression that should be enjoyed by Nigerians, when is it overboard with one’s expression? When does one’s expression become contemptuous to a right call against social injustices that so many are fighting for?

In July, it was Babatunde Olushola with the #FreeShola over a parody account he created that mocked former president Goodluck Jonathan. That episode created a barter on social media over the stiff actions that government officials take against harmless and defenseless Nigerians. However, with Solomon, this is not the case. This should not be how to get and demand a better government – by posing threats.

While it so appears that the call against social injustices has heightened over the past few months, certain things are debatable on how Nigerians are fighting this necessary war. On Twitter, while many condenmed Solomon’s detention, a few others supported the government’s decision on keeping him detained and charging him for terrorism.

Yes Solomon’s tweet may be coming from a state of lividness but it doesn’t go without questioning how far he would go if given the opportunity. Like Solomon, many Nigerians are angry at the government. We all want better, we want the things we have been promised – but as we go about reminding them of their incompetence and hostility, we should be careful to do it the right way.

 

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