The Nigerian Navy spokesperson, Suleiman Dahun, has clarified that popular comedian, Ahmed Gafar, popularly known as Cute Abiola, who was declared missing, is in naval custody.
The Instagram comedian, who is also naval personnel, was declared missing by his colleague, Mr Macaroni, on Monday.
Mr Macaroni shared the news on his official Twitter account and attached a series of WhatsApp messages he received as evidence.
The news sparked several reactions from Cute Abiola’s wife, colleagues, fans, and concerned Nigerians.
Reason for arrest
Mr Dahun, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, on Wednesday, said Cute Abiola violated the Armed Forces Social Media Policy.
He said the policy specifies the dos and don’ts of personnel as well as salient regulations with regards to their usage of social media on issues of official concerns.
Mr Dahun also said that Cute Abiola was summoned by his superiors from his leave to explain himself but he called their bluff and exhausted the period of his leave.
“Cute Abiola resumed and reported to his office on Monday where he was arrested and is currently awaiting trial”, he said.
Shortly after the conversation with this newspaper, the navy spokesman issued a statement debunking trending speculations and acknowledging that Cute Abiola is in their custody.
It read: “The attention of the Nigerian Navy, has been drawn to an online news story which claims that naval personnel, OSCOMP Abdugafar A, who incidentally is a popular comedian known as Cute Abiola, has gone missing.
“The Nigeria Army wishes to debunk the false news report currently trending online. OSCOMP Abdugafar is currently under custody in his unit for breaching the Armed forces social media policy and refusal to obey a particular order.
“The Nigerian Navy wishes to avail itself of this incident to remind its personnel to comply with provisions of the Armed forces social media policy in their usage of social media platforms. The policy, amongst others, is emplaced to protect the integrity of activities of the armed forces”.
This is not the first time the Instagram comedian would be arrested for violating the Nigerian Armed Forces Social Media Policy.
He was arrested in 2020 after his birthday pictures in a naval uniform went viral. He was later released on May 4, 2020.
Some people believe that his latest arrest and detention may not be unconnected to a recent Instagram post he made on Sunday.
He posted a video of himself clad in military uniform and wielding a gun. It was one of his scenes in Funke Akindele’s comedy-drama, ‘Jenifa’s Diary. The funny man appears in the new season of the popular drama series.
Armed Forces Social Media Policy
The Nigerian Armed Forces Social Media Policy, is embedded in the Armed Forces Act of 2017.
The law gives guidelines for use of Social Media by military personnel including the extent to which members of their families are allowed to use social media.
“Personnel should not post their pictures or those of their colleagues in military uniforms, or pictures containing military structures, platforms and other military-related items,” one of the slew of cautions in the guidelines reads.
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It also states that military personnel were also required to warn their family members against controversial conduct on social media.
“Personnel will be held liable for any security issues arising from postings in respect of them by civilian friends or relations. They are, therefore, to educate their friends and relations as necessary regarding military security and what should not be posted on social media,” the guideline reads.
Finally, the policy stipulated actions on Social Media that are regarded as offences and punishment to be meted out.
Worrisome WhatsApp message
The Whatsapp message which was published by Mr Macaroni that set the social media agog, indicated that the comedian, who is an Ulcer patient, has been arrested since Monday.
It read: “Ahmed Gafar is popularly known as The Cute Abiola left his house for office at Navy Town at 06:00 Am on the 15th November 2021 and got to the office at about 07:00 am or thereafter. While he got to the office, he called his wife and associates that he had gotten to the office.
“Subsequently, his wife and other associates have made several attempts to contact him but to no avail. Since he last communicated with his wife and associates that he already got to the office, he has not returned to his family and no one has heard from him till this moment.
“It was subsequently gathered from a reliable source that he has been locked up in the Nigerian Navy cell since he got to the office yesterday morning till the time of posting this information without being fed and no date has been stated for his release from custody.
“The most frustrating part is that nobody is saying anything as to the offence he has committed, but that he’s been detained on an order from the Nigerian Navy Headquarters.
“This unfortunate situation has rendered his wife emotionally tortured and traumatized as The Cute Abiola is an Ulcer patient. Hence, not feeding an Ulcer patient as punishment for an undisclosed offence is something to be worried about to avoid unnecessary circumstances with regards to the health of The Cute Abiola.”
Cute Abiola became a household name in 2015 and has featured in several comedy skits and movies.