The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sentenced a Nigerian woman to one year in prison for posting a video showing how some Nigerian travelers were detained upon arrival at Dubai International Airport.
On August 29, 2022, a Twitter user going by the handle @dunchichi posted a video of herself and other Nigerians being detained by UAE immigration officials despite having valid visas.
“I’m at Dubai international airport and myself and some tiger Nigerians with valid Visas are being held in a room hours after arriving with no explain and no information on what we can do. Please help me. There’s more than 20 of us,” she wrote.
I'm at Dubai international airport and myself and some tiger Nigerians with valid Visas are being held in a room hours after arriving with no explain and no information on what we can do. Please help me. There's more than 20 of us pic.twitter.com/6LpchsoJU2
— Dinchi. (@dunchichi) August 31, 2022
A statement, however, issued by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francisca Omayuli, stated that the stranded persons applied for and were issued family visas but arrived in Dubai alone.
On Friday, October 21, 2022, news broke out that @dunchichi was charged with a one-year jail term by the UAE authorities for an offense relating to her earlier post.
This was confirmed in a tweet on Saturday, October 22, 2022, by a user @jerrydoubles, who claimed to be @dunchichi’s relative.
“It is sad and regrettably heartrending to tell you all that @dunchichi was sentenced on 12th Oct 22, to 1yr in jail in Dubai. Her family are devastated and Nigeria didn’t save her. Cc @nidcom_gov @DavidHundeyin @FS_Yusuf_ @SavvyRinu @mrmacaronii @MobilePunch @daily_trust RT.
“Her sentence came from the backdrop that she got a family visa to travel. But in fact, she was there with her sister. It got messy & complicated, she was released on arrival after being detained for several hours, only to be sentenced when she was returning to Nigeria.
“They are capitalising on the fact that she made a video then posted them on her Twitter timeline to narrate the ordeal. They said it’s cybercrime in their country. She went ahead to delete it. Still, that didn’t soften them. Now she is jailed #justicefordinci.”
Following the attention raked on social media by the sentencing, the UAE law, however, surfaced that read;
“#1 – Do not post people’s pictures without permission. You may be tempted to take pictures of strangers in a public park. This may not be a huge issue in other countries, but it is a serious offence here.
Article 21 of Federal Law No. 5 of 2015 (or Cyber Crimes Law) states that “photographing others” without permission “shall be punished by imprisonment of a period of at least 6 months and a fine not less than AD 150,0000.
“#3 – Do not gossip or spread rumours. Gossiping or spreading rumours may seem trivial, but not here in the UAE. As cited earlier, ranting or sharing hate posts could lead to serious punishment.
Six months jail time and a fine of AD 250,000 await those who use social networks “for the purpose of defamation of or offending.”