Kaduna lecturer jailed locked up 6 days for criticizing Buhari and APC
A lecturer at the Kaduna State University, Dr. John Danfulani was arrested late January because of a Facebook post he made which was critical of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was detained by the police, remanded in prison, and charged for “incitement” by the Kaduna State Government.
In addition, Danfulani was issued a query at work and placed on suspension. He has been released on bail after meeting very stringent bail conditions. He wrote an article on his experience which is undemocratic and a sign of a despotic government. He called out Kaduna Governor, Nasir El Rufai for clamping down on freedom of speech, after enjoying unlimited personal freedoms under the government of Goodluck Jonathan.
He said that El Rufai had insulted Christians and Christianity, making mockery of the religion and its leaders on social media when he was in the opposition, but turns around to express intolerance when he is in government.
Danfulani, a human rights activist, also reaffirmed his commitment to playing his civil duty of holding the government accountable and to a high standard.
MY SIX DAYS ORDEAL WITH THE POLICE, COURT AND THE PRISON
On Tuesday, the 2nd of February, 2016 the gate of Kaduna Prison was opened for me to head to my home. That marked the end of a 6-day ordeal in the hands of the Police, Court, and Prison that started at 10am of the 28th of January, 2016.
The 6-day drama and melodrama was engineered by a letter from the State Command of Nigeria Police(NP) to my employer Kaduna State University (KASU) requesting them to release me for an interview at their headquarters. On receiving the NP’s request dated 21st January 2016, an internal memorandun was raised directing me to unfailingly report to the Police by 10am of the 25th January, 2016. Because I was out of the country, I couldn’t keep faith with the said date but phoned the contact on the NP’s letter of invitation and told him my difficulties of rescheduling my flight within the short time I got the news of his request. And told him that all things being equal, I would be available on 28th Janaury 2016 by 10 am. The officer was satisfied with my explanation and even sympathized with me.
On reaching the State Command on the 28th of January, 2016 as rescheduled, I was directed to the Surveillance Section of the CID for “the interview”. After introducing myself to the horde of their busy experts, I was given a seat; and in a nick of time, a green file was tabled before me. In the case file were: a Complaint from the office of the Attorney General of Kaduna State, a Petition to the Governor against me, and two write-ups purported to be my social media updates uploaded sometimes in January, 2016.
The IPO asked whether I was the owner of the pen that poured words they adjudged to be hate speech with the capacity of causing breakdown of law and order. I vehemently and unequivocally distanced myself from the write-ups. Their usual niceties of putting denials or acceptance of allegations in black and white followed. After that, we started ascending from one Senior Officer to the other, climaxing with the CP.
After few exchanges with the CP, he ordered for immediate confiscation of my phone and laptop to enable them probe the inflow and outflow of my mails and social media updates. From the CP’s office we headed straight to my house to effect his verbal order, and returned to their headquarters after an hour. On arrival, my legal team went to CP and asked for bail, but he denied the bail. All reasons under the sun were marshaled to make him grant me bail, failed into his deaf ears. At the closing hour, I was dropped at the famous SAR’s cell in Ibrahim Taiwo Road.
On Friday, 29th January, 2016, I was taken to court around 10am but the judge left for Friday Prayer and promised to return after performing his holy duty. While waiting, one of the court’s official informed us that the Chief Magistrate said he would not come back; that he had gone to attend a wedding in Zaria. We all returned to the Police headquarters and initiated a fresh process of administrative bail. The CP denied that and prevailed on the judge to return and sit on the case. The court sat after 7pm of 29th January 2016 and denied me bail on request of the prosecution team. But gave the police three days to complete investigation and return on Monday, the 1st of February, 2016 for the further mention of the case. His denial returned me back to my SAR’s cell in Ibrahim Taiwo Road Kaduna.
On Monday, the 1st of February, 2016 we returned to the Court. NP once more asked for three weeks to complete their investigation. My legal team resisted that and raised a motion for my bail. The Chief Magistrate granted the bail with conditions that were not liberal to meet up within a few hours. Because I was no longer under the custody of NP, I was lodged in Kaduna Prison on 1st February 2016 pending when I meet up with the bail terms. Within 24hrs, my legal team, friends and fans mobilized men and materials to meet the bail terms.
Without any stretch of imagination, this case is politically instigated to kill a voice of dissent in Kaduna State. Freedom and liberty enshrined in our Constitution have come under serious assault by the government of Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i since assuming power on 29th of May, 2015. We are sure that APC’s government in Kaduna State shall stop at nothing to seeing that opposition mouth is shut and voice quieted so as to rule with impunity.
The same El-rufa’i that is harassing, intimidating, and blackmailing innocent citizens today because they expressed disagreement and disappointment with government policies and actions enjoyed unlimited freedom and liberty while in opposition. It is on record that he tweeted and retweeted post that were not only senseless, belittling and denigrative but blasphemous to Christian religion and its adherence. He was never harassed or intimidated by the former holders of power or believers of the religion he unabashedly mocked. His deliberate and provocative excesses were tolerated and seen as part of liberties concomitant in democratic settings. The phenomenon of some person enjoying their liberties while gagging others cannot stand in Kaduna State. We know that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
My unstoppable struggle for an open society, promotion of responsible and responsive government, transparency in the act of governance, and respect for voices of dissents shall not peter-out because of crude power show of cowards who never honored Police invitations without being accompanied by Governors in recent past. I shall soldier-on and dare any aspiring dictator that is trying to condense the frontiers of liberty and freedom in Kaduna State and Nigeria at large. I shall continue to test their abiding or otherwise faith in basic tenets of democracy up to their last seconds in the office.
I want to use this opportunity to show my deepest gratitude to my team of Legal Irokos, International Rights Groups like Amnesty International, CLO, Senators of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Members of House of Representatives, patriotic citizens who surrendered their properties for me to meet up with the bail conditions, and comrades in the struggle for their overflowed solidarity.