UPDATED: Buhari’s aide, Tolu Ogunlesi, under fire for calling Nigerians ‘animals’

A Presidential aide who manages President Muhammadu Buhari’s social media accounts has come under public criticism after excoriating Nigerians who criticised the president’s viral photograph with Naomi Campbell as “animals.

“Naomi Campbell met Nelson Mandela more than once. He hugged her, called her his “honorary granddaughter”. She visits Nigeria for a fashion festival and meets President @MBuhari, and some of you animals are slandering her,” Tolu Ogunlesi said on Twitter Friday, and further emphasised that: “YOU’RE RAVING MAD WITH NOBODY TO TELL YOU.”

Mr. Buhari on Friday morning met with Ms Campbell, a British model, on an inspection tour of the Eko Atlantic real estate project in Lagos.

The assessment was part of Mr. Buhari’s visit to Lagos for the 66th birthday events of Bola Tinubu.

The State House was the first to post Mr. Buhari’s encounter with Ms Campbell on Twitter at noon Friday, in one of the rarest sightings of a leader widely seen as modest and taciturn.

Two hours later, the model, known for her controversial involvements with African rich men, returned the recognition with a tweet, although she ambiguously described it as a “private launch.” She initially said she was there at the instance of Mr. Buhari, but later deleted the tweet after online uproar.

Ms Campbell’s apparent inconsistency together with the State House’s reluctance to release details of the meeting prompted many to question whether the president knew the model’s history prior to the encounter.

While Ms. Campbell, 47, is based in the UK, she’s known to have been involved with rich men from Africa spanning decades.

In 1997, she met with Charles Taylor, a former Liberian warlord currently serving a long sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity, at a parry organised by former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Taylor allegedly gave Ms. Campbell a bag that contained diamonds worth millions of dollars and believed to have been mined illegally.

When she testified in the trial of Mr. Taylor at the International Criminal Court, Ms Campbell acknowledged receiving “small, dirty-looking stones” from the former Liberian president’s staff.

The testimony earned her a worldwide ridicule.

Also, in recent years, Ms. Campbell has been rumoured to be dating Kola Aluko, a Nigerian oil dealer currently on the run for alleged fraud.

The duo had been sighted cruising in Mr Aluko’s luxury yacht across the world.

Ms Campbell, who later said she was in Nigeria to participate at the Arise Fashion Show in Lagos, became an instant subject of partisan bickering between Mr. Buhari’s critics and supporters, with some opposition voices implying that she might have been paid for her brief appearance and photo op with the president.

A presidential aide clarified Friday evening that Ms Campbell only ran into Mr. Buhari at Eko Atlantic and sought to have a handshake and take pictures with the Nigerian leader.

Apparently angered by the criticisms, especially against Ms. Campbell as he later stated, Mr Ogunlesi, 36, posted the controversial tweet shortly after 11:00 p.m. Friday.

A few minutes later, he posted another tweet as a response to the initial wave of criticism from many who found his outburst distasteful, doubling down on his description of critics as animals without clarifying those the insult was directed at.

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