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Apprehension rises over the abduction of a Nigerian government critic

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria, Human Rights, Politics

Abubakar Idris popularly called Dadiyata. Image used with permission from The SignalNg [1]

Nigerian government critic Abubakar Idris, popularly known as Dadiyata, was abducted from his home in the Barnawa neighbourhood of Kaduna in northwestern Nigeria on August 1.

The Abuja-based online newspaper Premium Times reported that Dadiyata was forcefully taken [2] by abductors at about 1:00 am as he arrived at his home. “As he was about to lock the gate, two men accosted him and took him away in his car,” Dadiyata's wife told the newspaper.

Dadiyata, a lecturer at the Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina State, is a fierce critic of Kano State [3] Governor Umar Ganduje [4], and a supporter of former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso [5]. Dadiyata often spars with Ganduje's supporters on social media.

Once political allies, Ganduje and Kwankwaso became bitter rivals after Ganduje took office in 2015. Ganduje served as deputy governor under Kwankwaso from 2011 to 2015, when both men were members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). On assuming office in 2015, however, Ganduje fell out with his former boss. Kwankwaso defected to the opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). During the 2019 elections Kwankwaso supported [6] Ganduje's rival, Abba Kabir of the PDP.

Since 2015, relations between Ganduje and Kwankwaso have been openly acrimonious, with their supporters pitched on either side of a battle for political supremacy.

Kidnapping, or arrest?

Confusion is still raging as to whether Dadiyata was kidnapped or arrested. The police stated on August 2 that they were “making efforts to apprehend the fleeing suspected criminals” and rescue Dadiyata.

With freedom of expression under threat [12] in the country, some fear that Dadiyata disappearance is linked to his criticisms of the APC government in Kano State.

The opposition PDP described [19] Dadiyata’s abduction as an “apparent desperation to intimidate, suppress and silence public opinion and free speech in Nigeria as well as to further entrench a siege mentality on our citizenry.” The opposition party further accused [20] the Department of State Services (DSS), a unit of Nigeria’s state security service, of being responsible for the abduction, which the DSS has denied [21].

Where is Dadiyata?

Online, Nigerians expressed concern over Dadiyata's disappearance.

Senator and human rights defender Shehu Sani commented that the “demarcation lines between arrests and abductions is becoming blurred” in Nigeria:

Chuba Ugwu, a friend of Dadiyata, tweeted that he is holding the government responsible for the incident:

Others are praying for Dadiyata and his family:

With no news about Dadiyata two weeks after the after abduction, some citizens have staged protests, demanding that the government take action:

Opposition politician Ndi Kato aptly captured [39] the apprehension over Dadiyata's disappearance: