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Mubarak Bala: 300 Days in Detention Without Trial

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AfAW Warns Against Closing Down Witch Camps In Ghana

By Leo Igwe

Yesterday marked 300 days since Nigerian Humanist, Mubarak Bala has been in detention without trial. Last year, some Muslim fanatics in Kano accused him of blasphemy. They petitioned the police, who arrested and detained him. He has yet to be formally charged, three hundred days after his arrest. While Kano authorities have worked together to resolve other cases of blasphemy, they have tactfully ignored Bala’s. For instance, the ministry of justice through the appeal court, the correctional services department (the prisons), and the police collaborated in processing the appeals of Yahaya Shariff and Umar Farouk. The appeal court ordered a retrial of Shariff’s case but acquitted Farouk. Also, it took the joint effort of the police, the Kano state ministry of justice including the magistrate’ court at Gaydi Gaydi, the director of public prosecution, the attorney general, and the correctional services department to acquit the Christian barber and two of his clients, who were accused of blasphemy.

In the case of Mubarak Bala, this institutional synergy is missing. This combined action has not been happening. And it is a deliberate scheme by Kano authorities to frustrate the case and ensure that Bala remains behind bars. The police and the ministry of justice continue to deceive the outside world. They are using all sorts of lies and misinformation to ‘justify’ the illegal detention of Mubarak Bala. For the past 300 days, the police, and the attorney general of Kano State have not disguised their faithful commitment to a miscarriage of justice in the case of Mr. Bala.

For instance, the police arrested and disappeared Bala for the first 180 days. They gave him no access to a lawyer and refused him family visits. They also refused to charge him. Following some local and international pressures, the police approached a magistrates’ court, obtained a warrant through a back door. They remanded him in prison. Yes, the police got the court to transfer him to prison. It took another court order and some pressure on the authorities for the police to allow Mubarak Bala to meet his lawyer. Unlike the cases of Shariff and Farouk, the police and Ministry of Justice have refused to prosecute or acquit Bala. The police and the ministry of justice have worked together to achieve one thing in Bala’s case- a remand. They have worked together to give a semblance of legality to the illegal detention of Mubarak Bala. So it is not the case that these departments cannot work together or join efforts to resolve Bala’s case. They can. But they will not. Kano authorities do not want to resolve the case. Yes, the police and the Ministry of Justice in Kano are not interested in freeing Mubarak Bala. They are only interested in appeasing the Ummah, especially the Islamic base in Kano.

READ ALSO: Sokoto’s Hisbah Not Against Constitution – Tambuwal

Even after 300 days without trial, the Kano authorities are still putting up with this judicial charade. They are not willing to formally charge or release Bala. Instead, they are forging and fronting all sorts of excuses. For instance, in reaction to the court order (in December) that asked the police to release Mr. Bala, the police in Kano said Bala was no longer in their custody. Is that not absurd? In whose custody is he? The police arrested him and got a court to remand in a prison in Kano. Didn’t they? Based on this court order, is it not the duty of the police to ensure that Bala is released since they (police) were instrumental in his ‘remand’? Why are the police and the Ministry of Justice making a caricature of themselves and the justice system in Kano? Why are they being cowardly and mischievous in handling his case?

Look, in the case of the Christian barber who was accused of blasphemy, the police prosecutor, a state lawyer, the director of public prosecution, and the attorney general liaised and resolved the matter. It is important to mention that within this period, the police moved the Christian barber and two other accused persons from a police cell to a prison. Still, the matter was speedily settled. There were no buck-passing and alibis. The police or the attorney general did not make excuses when the accused were moved to prison. The various sections worked together and ensured the accused were acquitted.
Unfortunately, this has not happened in the case of Mubarak Bala, and this combined action should happen. After three hundred days in detention without trial, Kano authorities should release Mubarak Bala. No more excuses!

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Court Jails APC Senator Seven Years For Fraud

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Court Jails APC Senator Seven Years For Fraud

The Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Peter Nwaoboshi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , has been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Friday also ordered that the senator’s two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.

The court’s ruling was delivered in an appeal challenging the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court which on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted the defendants on two counts of fraud and money laundering. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which arraigned him however challenged the lower court’s decision.

EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million.

 READ ALSO: Why Move To Impeach Senate President Will Fail – Nwaboshi

Part of the money paid to the vendor – N322 million transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd – was alleged to be part of proceeds of fraud.

Earlier in his judgment, Justice Aneke said the evidence of the prosecutor “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from Zenith Bank to purchase additional equipment and as provision of working capital”.

“It also proved that the loan of N1.2 billion together with interest of N24 million was properly granted to the third defendant .Nothing else was proved by the complainant or prosecutor in this case,” the EFCC quoted the judge as saying in a statement.

The high court judge was also quoted as claiming that a fatal blow was dealt to the case of the prosecution by its failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10. Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants”.

However, ruling on the EFCC’s appeal on Friday, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.

“The court said the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged,” EFCC said.

 

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Drama In Court As Lawyer Appears In Priestly Attire

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VIDEO: Drama As Lawyer In Priestly Attire Appears In Court

By John Michael Ojo
There was a mild drama today at the Okpoko Magistrate Court in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, as a lawyer simply identified as Ogbachalu Goshen appeared before the court in a pastoral robe.

But Ogbachalu who was standing before the magistrate, CB Mbaegbu, was denied  hearing on the ground that he was not properly attired, leading to a minor incident in the court.

READ ALSO: Female Students Can Wear Hijab To Lagos Schools – Supreme Court

However,  citing a recent Supreme Court’s judgment which supported the wearing of hijab by female students in public schools as a reference point, Ogbachalu reminded the court that it was his right to dress in his priestly attire as he was an ordained pastor and that the objection by the court to hear him, was an infringement on his fundamental human right as enshrined in section 38 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

The magistrate however disagreed his submission which only forced the court to dismiss.

 

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Court Orders Immigration, Banks To Release David Ukpo’s Details To Ekweremadu

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Court Orders Immigration, Banks To Release David Ukpo's Details To Ekweremadu

To enable detained former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu to effectively defend himself in London, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the Nigerian Immigration Service and three banks to immediately release details of David Ukpo to him.

Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order while delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice.

The judgment against the defendants followed their non-appearance in court to defend the suit.

By the court order, all official information including the account opening package in relation to Ukpo are to be released to Senator Ekweremadu to ascertain the real age of the said Ukpo.

READ ALSO: Real Age Of Ekweremadu’s Kidney Donor – Immigration

Ukpo had claimed at a London court that he was a minor of 15 years old which led to the arrest and detention of the Nigerian Senator.

Other defendants are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic-IBTC Bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA), and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents, respectively.

 

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