Is Nigeria’s APC’s honeymoon with social media coming to an end?

Emmanuel Ojo, a blogger from Ogun state was arrested by the Ogun state police command on Monday for allegedly insinuating that the wife of the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun of the APC, Olufunsho Amosun was arrested in London over $300,000 money laundering charges. An allegation the first lady has denied.

Eleweran Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi has confirmed Ojo’s arrest. “We received a complaint from the state government on the suspect and he was arrested. Presently, he is with us at Eleweran. We are still conducting our investigations. If he is found wanting, he will be charged to court accordingly.” The Secretary to the Ogun state Government, Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa has denied Senator Amosun’s involvement in the arrest of the blogger.

During 2011 and 2015 elections, the APC prided itself on being a social media savvy political party. With over 90,000 Facebook likes and 250,000 Twitter followers, APC utilized social media strategies that enabled them to appear youth oriented, transparent and transformative, even if this was merely in terms of perception rather than the core ethos of the political party. An administration official from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s office recently underscored how the APC made use of consistency on social media to shape their narrative.

Emmanuel Ojo runs a news blog consistent with yellow journalism, as opposed to traditional journalism. Many bloggers look out for sensational topics which will attract likes and clicks, so they can make a profit from their blog posts. This article on blogging in Nigeria explains that bloggers look for ways to engage the public and receive corporate advertising on their blogs, which may be the reason why Ojo allegedly posted a news story without any valid proof.

Media reports trail Ojo’s initial post to a few months ago, however, it was a more recent Facebook post on the subject of the first lady’s arrest that led to his arrest. Just before the 2015 presidential elections, Japhet Omojuwa predicted that social media would play an important role in Nigeria’s democracy in the coming years. He stressed that the existing freedom in the social media space would encourage a listening government, which would benefit more Nigerians.

During his arraignment before a magistrate court yesterday, the police prosecutor prayed the court to deny him bail and labeled him a “dangerous criminal”. The judge however granted Ojo bail in the sum of N1million and adjourned the case till October 21st, 2015.

Emmanuel Ojo’s arrest suggests that the APC, may be losing its tolerance for social media which is not easily controlled unlike traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers.

A Federal House of Representatives member, Hon. Adekoya Adesegun Abdel-Majid representing Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency has condemned the arrest of the blogger, stating that the law cannot hold the hand of the young man for the delight of the Ogun State Governor. In the same vein, the arrest and prosecution of Ojo could prove that the APC may have misplaced its lack of bias for social media until, perhaps, the next election.

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