Nigerian TikTokers sentenced to lashes for mocking civil servant

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Two TikTok stars in Nigeria have been sentenced to a lash and forced to clean the court after using social media to mock a government official.

Mubarak Isa Muhammed and Muhammed Bula have been found guilty of defaming Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of northern Kano state.

The couple’s lawyer said they would not challenge the verdict.

Nigeria has seen a growing number of social media stars using comedy to comment on social and political issues.

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Muhammad, whose online alias is Unique Pikin, and Bala were arrested last week after posting their video mocking the governor for alleged land grabs, corruption and sleeping at work on TikTok and Facebook.

Prosecutor Wada Ahmed Wada said the men had defamed the governor and that their actions could disrupt public order.

They pleaded guilty and asked for leniency, but the judge ordered them to be lashed 20 each, pay a 10,000 naira (£20) fine and clean the courthouse for 30 days. They were also ordered to publicly apologize to Mr Ganduje on social media.

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Their lawyer, Bashir Yusuf, told the TBEN they would not challenge the verdict, as it was a ‘non-custodial’ sentence – meaning the convicts will not go to jail.

Nigeria has seen a rapid increase in TikTok users in recent years, especially among young people.

These users sometimes mock public figures, including government officials, by clipping images or videos, often to create comedies that lure massive followers to their accounts.

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Kano State, a Muslim-majority part of northern Nigeria, is one of about a dozen states in the region that apply the Sharia legal system in addition to the country’s secular laws. Only Muslims can be tried in Sharia courts.