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This Guy Got Arrested For Naming His Dog After The President

"There's a distinction between calling President Buhari a dog, and naming a pet dog Buhari."

Posted on August 25, 2016, at 4:00 a.m. ET

Thirty-year-old Nigerian trader Joachim Chinakwe is a big fan of his country's current head of state, Muhammadu Buhari. So much so that, he says, he recently decided to name his pet dog after the president.

Pool / Reuters

Unfortunately things got weird for Chinakwe after a feud with a neighbor and the police's overzealousness.

In dock all bcus e name im dog buhari, which kind injustice b dis, una never finish arresting bcus we plenty:

Chinkawe, a resident of the southwestern state of Ogun, was detained for three days last Saturday after a neighbor complained about the dog’s name. According to some reports, Chinakwe’s neighbor, allegedly from a northern state, complained the name was a deliberate insult to his own father, who is called Alhaji Buhari. President Buhari is also from the north of Nigeria, where his biggest support base lies.

The police have since alleged that Chinakwe wrote “Buhari” on the dog’s flanks, and walked him through a local market popular with northern traders — a move they said could cause a breach of the peace as Chinakwe was deliberately provoking northerners. Chinakwe denied the allegations. A spokesperson for the president couldn't be reached, and there's no evidence he is even aware of the incident.

"After reading [about] his dogged fight against corruption ... [I] decided to rename my beloved dog, which I called Buhari, after him,” Chinakwe told the Vanguard newspaper. "I did not know that I was committing an offense for admiring Buhari."

Following his release from prison, Chinakwe found himself facing death threats, which he reported to the police. They promptly carted him back to prison, blaming ongoing ethnic tensions in Nigeria.

Putting Chinakwe back in prison was “to save the suspect’s life” and avoid triggering ethnic violence from his northern neighbors, police spokesperson Abimbola Oyeyemi said. Nigeria often has to perform a delicate balancing act between its 250-plus ethnicities. Tensions frequently erupt in both the Muslim-majority north and Christian-dominated south, despite both religions being spread across the country.

“The average Northerner will feel bad over such a thing. It can cause serious ethnic crisis or religious confrontation because when you are relegating such a name to a certain person, you are indirectly insulting him,” Oyeyemi told reporters.

The details of his case quickly prompted lawyers from Nigeria’s Coalition of Human Rights Defenders to offer Chinakwe their services.

“It is unconstitutional,” Inibehe Effiong, one of the lawyers who helped gather funds to pay bail, told BuzzFeed News by phone from Lagos. “The name Buhari isn’t exclusive or sacred in the eyes of the law. What the police have done is embarrass the country internationally.”

"If the argument of the police is correct, it means anybody in Nigeria that gives a human name to a dog can be arrested, tried, and convicted," Effiong said.

The case has also shone a spotlight on Nigeria’s police force, which has a dismal record in human rights and is notorious for institutional corruption.

Civil rights groups estimate the police collect up to $4 million in bribes each year.Effiong noted that it was “characteristic” of the police’s behavior to deny Chinakwe bail and detain him for four days — longer than the legal three-day limit for detention without charging a person with a crime. “The Nigerian police force needs to radically reform,” he said.
Gbenga Olamikan / AP

Civil rights groups estimate the police collect up to $4 million in bribes each year.

Effiong noted that it was “characteristic” of the police’s behavior to deny Chinakwe bail and detain him for four days — longer than the legal three-day limit for detention without charging a person with a crime. “The Nigerian police force needs to radically reform,” he said.

Most Nigerians seemed baffled at the amount of police work — and logic — that went into the case.

Naming a pet "@MBuhari" is a “breach of public peace.”? Cmon @PoliceNG don't you have more serious crimes to fight? https://t.co/UfSabdSaoW

A person names his dog Buhari, is arrested & is being tried The pple who threatened to murder him are free And people are justifying it?

If we keep quiet when they arrest the man who named his dog Buhari who will talk for us when they arrest us for criticizing the real Buhari?

Some Nigerians began posting pictures of their pets named after politicians on social media to show solidarity with the case.

Some offered bail for Chinakwe, whose case has been adjourned until Sept. 19.

@jimidisu Please where is the guy that was arrested for naming his dog Buhari, let me bail him out. The arrest is just too silly for me

Others wondered why more pressing religious and ethnic tensions — including, in the last week, eight people being burned alive for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed — weren't being prioritized.

Killings like what happened in Zamfara will be reported again &again but a man that named his dog after Buhari will be the one to go to JAIL

As for the canine Buhari? Some reports said Chinakwe's friends had tried to save him from being picked up by cops — by eating him.

Others alleged angry neighbors had set upon the dog, killing it.

"Either way, he's no longer in existence," Effiong told BuzzFeed News.

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