When Muhammadu Buhari hit the campaign trail in Nigeria earlier this year, he got help from an unlikely source: Tunde Thompson. As a reporter for the Lagos-based Guardian newspaper in the 1980s, Thompson was one of two journalists jailed under the repressive military regime led by Buhari.
Thompson was a casualty of Decree 4, a draconian piece of legislation that allowed the government to imprison any journalist who embarrassed the country’s military leaders — a nebulous charge that was frequently invoked to muzzle the press and civil society during the 18 months of Buhari’s rule. After Thompson and his colleague Nduka Irabor published a report on diplomatic postings that involved top military brass, the two were arrested in February 1984 and held for eight months.
Three decades after his ordeal, Thompson said that “time is a healer of certain wounds,” and he came out in support of Buhari in his campaign against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
“People should learn to be charitable. They should learn to forgive and let bygones be bygones,” Thompson told the online Premium Times newspaper. Saying that Buhari wasn’t personally responsible for his 1984 arrest, Thompson added that he “bear[s] no grudge against him.”