Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaduna State, Aisha Dikko, has refuted the allegations on the cases mentioned in the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, petition against the invitation of Governor Nasiru El-rufai to the 60th Annual General Meeting of the NBA by some lawyers.
According to her, “A government that goes to court as the proper arena for deciding cases cannot be reasonably accused of not respecting the rule of law. Those who assert the contrary have the burden of showing how the rule of law can be advanced without the courts and whether society is better served by permitting license, or confusing incitement with freedom of speech.
“From inception in 2015, this government has maintained fidelity to the rule of law and has tried its best to uphold order by enforcing the law. Kaduna is the first state to domesticate the model Penal Code Law adopted by the 19 northern states and has passed laws for child welfare and protection, and against violence against persons, apart from domesticating the Administration of Criminal Justice Law. In five years, the state legislature has enacted close to 100 laws, most of them executive bills. This includes the first Mortgage and Foreclosure Law by a Nigerian sub-national, a Tax Codification Law, a Contributory Pension Law, and the Kaduna State Peace Commission Law.
In addition, the state government has appointed more magistrates, expanded their remit and recruited more lawyers into the public service. Although it has gotten fewer than the number of high court judges it considers optimal, the state government continues to engage with the National Judicial Council on the matter.
From its first test in July 2015 to date, this government has demonstrated its commitment to the rule of law. That month, barely two months after the government took office, The Union newspaper and its correspondent contrived to publish a defamatory story on the assets of the state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai. The governor sued the newspaper and its correspondent, Gabriel Idibia, who was neither interrogated nor detained over this civil matter. Malam Nasir El-Rufai, who is well known for pursuing any grievances he has in court, initiated this matter in his private capacity and it is being handled by his personal lawyer. This case is still in court, but it is not cited by the petitioners because it does not fit the pattern they were out to construct.
We will demonstrate shortly that the allegations in the petition are baseless and unfounded by explaining the cases of each of the individuals mentioned in the petition, most of whom have pending criminal cases in Kaduna State. One of the listed persons has a bench warrant for his arrest having refused to appear in court, while the state government has rejected the request from one of the persons listed for an out of court settlement. The state government has also filed an appeal in one of the cases where damages were awarded against it for improper execution of a valid warrant by the police.
The Kaduna State Ministry of Justice wishes to state emphatically that the Kaduna State Government has no idea of the whereabouts of or any involvement whatsoever in the reported abduction of Abubakar Idris Usman, also known as Dadiyata. Anything to the contrary is a vile assertion that seeks to stretch the fact that he was abducted within Kaduna State to mean the involvement of the state government. Every citizen that the state government has reason to suspect has been involved in incitement, injurious falsehood or criminal defamation has been appropriately charged before the courts and afforded due process. The State Government has neither filed any complaint against Mr. Usman with the police nor has it instituted a suit against him before the court.
Steven Kefason and Segun Onibiyo: These cases are pending before the Chief Magistrate Court and the High Court of Kaduna State respectively. Both cases stem from incitement and injurious falsehood committed around the matter of the unfortunate kidnap and demise of Agom Adara (HH Dr. Raphael Maiwada Galadima) in October 2018. Few days after the late Agom Adara was kidnapped, communal and religious crisis erupted in Kasuwan Magani, which led to loss of lives and properties in the area and prompted the State government to impose 24 hours curfew in the area. The communal and religious crisis spread to Kaduna Metropolis, which also led to loss of lives and properties due to rumors and fake news spread on social media platforms.
The State Government in its efforts to restore peace and order requested the police to arrest and investigate any person who is reasonably suspected to have instigated the crisis by posting or making false and inciting comments on social media platforms during the crisis. The police investigation revealed that a twitter account with the name @realkefason was one of the twitter accounts that had been spreading rumors, fake news and inciting disturbance during the communal and religious crisis in Kasuwan Magani, Kaduna Metropolis and the kidnapping and killing of the late Agom Adara.
The investigation further revealed that the twitter account with the name @realkefason belonged to one Steven Kefason. He was arrested by the police upon being reasonably suspected to have committed the offences of inciting disturbance, defamation of character and injurious falsehood.
After the police concluded their investigations and forwarded the case diary to the Ministry of Justice for legal advice, the Ministry of Justice advised for the prosecution of Steven Kefason, hence he was arraigned on a First Information Report (FIR) before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 10 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, for offences of inciting disturbance, defamation of character and injurious falsehood. The prosecution also filed charges against Steven Kefason before the Kaduna State High Court, Steven Kefason has been granted bail by the High Court, meanwhile trial will commence after the courts resume from vacation.
Segun Onibiyo: Similarly, police investigations revealed that a Facebook account with the name SMG Onibiyo was also one of the accounts that had been spreading rumors, fake news and inciting disturbance during the communal and religious crisis in Kasuwan Magani, Kaduna Metropolis and the kidnapping of the late Agom Adara.
Investigations further revealed that the Facebook account with the name SMG Onibiyo belongs to one Onibiyo Segun Mike Gbenga. He was arrested by the police upon being reasonably suspected to have committed the offences of inciting disturbance, defamation of character and injurious falsehood.
After the police concluded their investigation and forwarded the case diary to the Ministry of Justice for legal advice, the Ministry of Justice advised for the prosecution of Onibiyo Segun Mike Gbenga, hence he was arraigned on a First Information Report (FIR) with case number KMD/205X/2018 before Chief Magistrate Court No. 12 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, for offences of inciting disturbance, defamation of character and injurious falsehood.
After Onibiyo Segun Mike Gbenga was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 12 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, he pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned for hearing. Onibiyo Segun Mike Gbenga, through his solicitor, approached the prosecution that his client is remorseful and pleaded for settlement, which was turned down by the government. He has been granted bail by the High Court and his trial will commence after the courts resume from vacation.
Chidi Odinkalu: Mr. Odinkalu has cases pending before the Chief Magistrate Court, High Court and Federal High Court, Kaduna. The facts are that on the 16th February 2019 while on Channels TV, he made serious allegations against the Governor of Kaduna State which were capable of inciting disturbance and the breakdown of law and order in the State.
Consequently, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice filed an application before the Chief Magistrate Court No.1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State with case No. KMD/27DC/2019 for the issuance of criminal summons against Chidi Odinkalu for committing the offences of inciting disturbance, injurious falsehood, public nuisance and furnishing false information punishable under sections 77, 373, 104 and 150 respectively of the Penal Code Law of Kaduna State, 2017.
The DPP applied for an order of the court for the police to investigate the allegations against Mr. Odinkalu and report the outcome of the investigations to the court, an application that was granted by the court which ordered the police to investigate the case.
In compliance with the order of the Chief Magistrate Court, the police commenced investigation into the case and invited him for questioning. He refused to honor the invitation and instead filed a notice of preliminary objection before the Chief Magistrate Court No.1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court. The State Government responded to the notice of preliminary objection by filing a counter affidavit and the court overruled his application and assumed jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.
Instead of appealing the ruling of the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, he filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1112/2019. The trial Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja suo motu raised the issue of jurisdiction in the case and questioned why Mr. Odinkalu filed the application in Abuja and not Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court. The trial Judge transferred the case to the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court in a new suit No. FHC/KD/CS/97/2019.
Mr. Odinkalu again filed another action before the High Court No. 12 of Kaduna State with suit No. KDH/KAD/1100/2019 for judicial review, praying for the Court to quash the trial before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State. The case is still pending before High Court No. 12.
The action he filed before the High Court No.12 has stalled the trial before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State. The case pending before the Federal High Court, Kaduna, has been adjourned to 22nd October 2020 for Judgment. Meanwhile, the cases pending before the High Court No.12 and the Federal High Court, Kaduna have stalled the investigation by the police.
John Danfulani: Mr. Danfulani is facing trial before the Kaduna State High Court in Suit No. KDH/KAD/102C/2016 on a two-count charge of inciting disturbance and injurious falsehood punishable under Sections 114 and 393 of the Penal Code Law. He pleaded not guilty and was also granted bail by the court. In December 2015, Dr. Danfulani posted on social media inciting statements against a certain ethnic group and religion, and it required concerted action to avert a breakdown of law and order at the state university where he was teaching. The case is still pending in court.
Luka Binniyat and Audu Maikori: Both cases are before the Kaduna State High Court 2 with Charges Nos. KDH/KAD/41C/2017 and No. KDH/KAD/38C/2017 respectively. Early in 2017, Audu Maikori claimed in a tweet that five students of the College of Education, Gidan-Waya, had been ambushed and killed by Fulani herdsmen. Based on Maikori’s false tweet, Luka Binniyat fabricated a news story in Vanguard newspaper, assigning names, place of origin and course of study to the alleged victims, including the claim that one of them was studying Mass Communication.
Mr. Binniyat is charged for inciting public disturbance and injurious falsehood, while Mr. Maikori is charged for inciting public disturbance, injurious falsehood and conspiracy. Mr. Binniyat alleged that when he discovered that the statement was false, he told the Editor not to publish same, but he was surprised to find out that the information was published, while Mr. Maikori alleged that his driver was the source of the information.
Mr Binniyat’s case is adjourned to 22nd September 2020, for continuation of trial, while Mr. Maikori has failed to appear in court for arraignment in his case and the court has issued bench warrant against him.
Much has been made of the damages Audu Maikori was awarded by a Federal High Court over the circumstances of his arrest in Lagos by the police who were executing the warrant of arrest. The Kaduna State Government complied with the law in obtaining the necessary warrant of arrest, but it must rely on the police to execute it properly. The state government has appealed the award of damages.
Ms. Gloria Ballason: The Kaduna State Government wrote a complaint to the National President of the NBA in 2017 against Ms. Ballason’s remarks in an article, headlined When Government Kills. In the complaint, the state government requested the NBA to thoroughly investigate the issue and sanction her appropriately.
She subsequently filed an action against the state government and was awarded damages. The state government has, through CA/AK/436/2018, appealed against the decision.
As is evident above, these cases have a common thread of incitement and spreading false information which cannot be tolerated in any civilised community, not least in a state that has suffered from so much ethnoreligious strife. We do not have the luxury of indulging such conduct and will consistently do our duty to safeguard peaceful coexistence and uphold law and order by initiating prosecutions, leaving it to the courts to decide innocence or guilt.drawing attention that all the cases have a common thread of Incitement