I spent 82 days in detention – Student who created Jonathan’s parody account

A final year student of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Olusola Babatunde, says he was detained by the police for 82 days and nearly contracted COVID-19 at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.

Babatunde said he was detained for creating a parody account of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Babatunde spoke in an exclusive interview with The Newsmen on Tuesday, shortly after he was released.

The student, who has no parents, said he and scores of suspects were cramped in small cells in contravention of the COVID-19 guidelines.

He said a Chinese miner who was detained in another cell fell ill and tested positive for COVID-19.

Babatunde said, “There was no social distancing. I guess the people in the cells are exceptional. It is like COVID-19 doesn’t infect them and this is despite the fact that new suspects are brought in everyday without testing.

“However, we had an incident just once. There was a Chinese man who was a gold miner who fell ill. He was taken to a hospital and tested positive for COVID-19; so. he was hurriedly released.

“He was in the Force Intelligence Bureau Department. So, only the suspects in that cell were tested. We were all at risk of getting infected with COVID-19.”

The student said while in custody, he was fed twice a day and wore the same clothes for 82 days and was only allowed to wash his clothes every four days.

“It wasn’t easy. I spent 82 days in detention and I was transferred to three different cells. I wore the same clothes for 82 days,” Babatunde said.

The student said he felt betrayed that former President Jonathan could order his arrest because he was one of his biggest supporters.

Babatunde said, “The funny thing is that I even tweeted good things about Goodluck Jonathan a few weeks before my arrest. I said Jonathan’s administration was better than that of the current President. So, I was shocked, but this is Nigeria.”

When asked if he was still a fan of Jonathan, Babatunde responded laughingly, “May God help us.”

Narrating how he was arrested, the student said his uncle called him that policemen wanted to see him.

The student said on getting to his uncle’s house, the police arrested him and did not reveal to him the reason for his arrest.

“It was when I got to the station that I was asked what I did to offend Goodluck Jonathan,” Babatude said.

“I spent over a month in police custody before I was arraigned,” he added.

The student said he created the parody account with the best of intentions and never defrauded anyone or impersonated the former President.

He said he abided by the Twitter rules guiding the creating of parody accounts and wondered why he was subjected to such wickedness.

“I set it up just to make the timeline fun. I have my own personal twitter account, but I just wanted to ‘catch cruise’. It was my personal Twitter account that I converted. It was the same handle @jayythedope, but I changed my picture and profile name to that of Jonathan.

“I left my cover picture as @Jayythedope. All my information and personal email address were included in my bio. It was not an attempt to impersonate the former President. I also stated clearly that I was not GEJ. It was just a parody account. I didn’t expect things to blow up the way they did,” he said.

The student said his Twitter account, which had over 60,000 followers and was also his means of livelihood, had been suspended due to the controversy he generated.

Also speaking with The Newsmen, the student’s lawyer, Mr Tope Akinyode, said Jonathan had already written through his lawyers to withdraw his complaint of impersonation.

“We just got the bail process completed. In addition, the President has written through his people to the court to withdraw the case. The withdrawal will come up on the next adjourned date,” Akinyode said.

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