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Should it be a crime to call your dog Buhari? – By Jimeh Saleh


We reported the bizarre story of a Nigerian man who was arrested and charged with a “conduct likely to cause breach of the peace” for naming his dog Buhari

Is it OK to name your dog after your country’s leader?

Yesterday we reported the bizarre story of a Nigerian man who was arrested and charged with a “conduct likely to cause breach of the peace” for naming his dog Buhari, in honour, he says, of the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

The police have said that Joachim Iroko’s unusual choice of name may have offended some of his neighbours, who abhor dogs for religious and cultural reasons.

But should it really matter what name you give your pet, and how can it be a crime in itself?

Joachim’s case exposes something about the tensions that exist in modern-day Nigeria’s mixed communities.

Joachim is an Igbo Christian, but he lives in an area of south-western Ogun state, which has a large communities of ethnic Hausas, who are Muslim.

Naming a dog Buhari may have been doubly problematic for the Hausa community, which considers dogs unclean for religious reasons and strongly supports President Buhari, who is from the same ethnic group.

So perhaps Joachim didn’t choose the wrong name, but the wrong place in which to give the name to his dog?

Nigerians are not against giving eccentric names to their pets, or indeed their children.

I remember interviewing a painter many years in Lagos who told me his name was Honest Millionaire.

Former President Goodluck also charmed many with his name.

A lot of children born during his presidency were named after him in hope that they would one day occupy the highest office in the land by sheer luck.


Prominent lawyers in Nigeria say it is not a crime to name a dog after the president, the local Vanguard newspaper reports.

Their comments came after police charged a man with breaching the peace by writing Buhari, after President Muhammadu Buhari, on his dog and walking with it in a market where the leader is popular.

Lawyer Monday Ubani is quoted by the newspaper as saying:

“In the eye of the law, it is not criminal for somebody to name his or her dog after another person. 

“It may be offensive by examining the circumstances under which the incident happened.”

In his reaction, lawyer Tunji Muyedeen told the newspaper:

“As far as I am concerned, there is no way such [an] offence could be sustained in law. 

“Anybody can name his pet after anybody’s name…

“All of us will be living witnesses to the trial of the man. We will see what evidence the prosecution has to prosecute the accused person.”

Human rights lawyer Okey Nwaguna is quoted as saying:

The motive of an accused is never and can never be established by the charge: It must be established by evidence. 

Prosecution must show that accused had the intent to cause a breach of public peace. What constitutes ‘public’ is key.”

Jimeh Saleh, BBC Hausa service editor


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