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1 Feb 2019

Abuse Of Power, Judicial Ambush? Outrage Against FG As Deji Adeyanju Marks 50th Day In Jail

Political activists with ties to Deji Adeyanju have accused the Buhari administration of keeping him in prison as part of a plot to inflict physical and mental pains on him and diminish his impact during the upcoming presidential elections.

Mr Adeyanju has been kept perpetually in custody since the Nigerian police lured him to their office in Abuja on December 13.

Fifty days later, the activist has not been granted bail despite a slew of fundamental rights lawsuits filed by his associates.

The activist has spent so long in prison even though the police do not seem to have a justifiable case against him.

The police said Mr Adeyanju was a suspect in a homicide that occurred in Kano in January 2005.
Mr Atoye and other political activists said the outcome of various lawsuits seeking to free Mr Adeyanju “has now validated our suspicion that” Mr Buhari “is on a personal mission to victimise, persecute and silence” the activist.

Mr Adeyanju was first arrested on November 28 while leading a protest against police bias in Abuja.

He was released on November 6 after spending a week on prison over two separate but similar charges filed against him by the police, who accused him of defaming both the police and the Nigerian Army on social media.

He received a call from the police barely a week later on December 13. He was asked to come for the last of his three mobile telephones which the police seized when they arrested him. Two of the devices had been previously returned to him.

But on arrival, Mr Adeyanju was held in custody.

He spent five days in police custody in Abuja without charges, before being transferred to Kano where the police said the matter started the last decade.

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court reportedly ruled on the same day Mr Adeyanju was moved to Kano that the activist should be released on bail. The order was rendered unenforceable after it was discovered that Mr Adeyanju had been taken to Kano and the jurisdiction had changed.

After three days in Kano without being arraigned, Mr Adeyanju was taken before a magistrate there on December 21, during which he was controversially remanded in prison until this month.

The pronouncement sparked a nationwide uproar, especially because the magistrate said he lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter but still kept him in custody nonetheless. It fuelled speculation that the government was behind the activist’s ordeal to keep him out of circulation ahead of the elections.

The ruling did not deter Mr Adeyanju’s associates, who immediately approached the Kano State High Court that acquitted Mr Adeyanju 10 years ago to free the activist.

Following repeated adjournments, the matter ultimately came up on January 30, but the outcome was assailed as a judicial ambush by Mr Atoye.

As presiding judge, Aisha Mahmoud, was hearing bail application for Mr Adeyanju on January 30, the police “secretly filed charges in another high court”.

Musa Muhammed, a police prosecutor who entered the courtroom with the fresh charges, said they had been filed before another judge in Courtroom 11 of the same court. Mr Musa had been served papers for Mr Adeyanju’s bail since December 27, but declined to respond until January 30 when he stormed the courtroom.

At this point, Ms Mahmoud became handicapped, and consequently ruled that it would amount to “judicial recklessness” to grant the bail application when the matter has been assigned.

While the lower court subsequently declined jurisdiction on December 21, 18, it, however, went ahead to remand the accused in prison custody till February 6, 2019 or when a court that has jurisdiction will take over the matter.

“While the Buhari government and the police have in flagrant violation of our laws chosen to embark on this fruitless voyage of illegal discovery, we are shocked by their recoil into ethno-religious biases and vendetta, persecuting only Deji Adeyanju – the only Yoruba-Christian in a group of four persons which includes three Hausa-Fulanis, who were discharged and acquitted.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate that while the present regime of General Buhari continues to give a false impression – to Nigerians and especially the international community – that it is committed to a united Nigeria that is free of ethnic bigotry and intolerance, its actions and pronouncements, however, especially as it relates to respect for human rights and dissenting voices, have proved otherwise.

“Again, we wish to forewarn all well-meaning Nigerians, within and without the country, that as gathered through veritable sources within the incumbent government of General Buhari, there is an active plot to foist a strange agenda on the nation and silence dissenting voices; and the ultimate goal of this plot is to plunge Nigeria into a full-fledged dictatorship and ethno-religious fascism,” the group said.

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