…Lawyer says Police is Playing Politics with His Fundamental Human Rights in a Gruesome Assault on Nigeria’s Constitution Popular Activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Mr. Deji Adeyanju was on Friday remanded at the Kano Central Prison until February 2019, even as civil society groups suspect a deliberate plot to eliminate him. The Chief Magistrate’s
…Lawyer says Police is Playing Politics with His Fundamental Human Rights in a Gruesome Assault on Nigeria’s Constitution
Popular Activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Mr. Deji Adeyanju was on Friday remanded at the Kano Central Prison until February 2019, even as civil society groups suspect a deliberate plot to eliminate him. The Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kano after taking his plea said that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear murder charges against the political activist.
Adeyanju was arrested by the police on December 13, and curiously accused of being an accomplice in a murder case that was disposed off 10 years ago. Chief Magistrate, Hassan Fagge speaking in court said that he lacked the power to hear the homicide charges brought against Adeyanju by the police, but said the political activist should be remanded in prison until February 6 when a higher court would be available to hear the matter.
Mr Adeyanju’s lawyer, Yusuf Suleiman, speaking on the case said: “This is clearly an attempt to keep him unlawfully in detention,” adding that the matter was concluded nearly 10 years ago and he should not have been picked up again by the police, much less taken back to court.
Mr Suleiman said the police in Kano are playing politics with Mr Adeyanju’s fundamental rights in a gruesome assault on the Nigerian Constitution saying, “they now charged him for attempted murder which the magistrate said he has no power to hear. Now a lower court is hearing a matter that the Kano State High Court had decided long ago”.
Several civil society organisations, CSOs, on Wednesday, staged a demonstration at the headquarters of the National Human Right Commission, NHRC, in Abuja to protest against the unlawful detention of Adeyanju, a strong critic of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
They also alleged sinister plots by the Police to assassinate him ahead of the forthcoming general elections in 2019. Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr Ariyo Atoye, the convener of Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, called on the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, to do all within the powers of his office to protect Mr. Adeyanju’s fundamental rights as well as prevail on the police to respect the rule of law.
Adeyanju was last week invited to the FCT Police Command Headquarters to collect his handset that was seized by the police during a previous arrest and incarceration following protests perceived to be anti-government. On getting to the Police Command in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and after collecting his phone, the activist was accosted by operatives from the office of the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit and confronted with already prepared questions that bother on a murder case that has been decided and closed by a competent court of Law in 2009.
Since then, Adeyanju has been in police detention and unreachable by his lawyer, associates, family, and friends. Against that background, Atoye said: “Unfortunately, the plot to silence him was further emboldened as the Nigerian Police Force, yesterday, December 18, 2018, hurriedly transferred Deji Adeyanju to Kano State, claiming they want to review the same case in which judgement and justice was served about 10 years ago.”
“Based on the above: family and associates fear a plot may be in the offing to eliminate him as we have seen in recent times of cases and instances where suspects died mysteriously in police custody and there was hardly any autopsy done and no forensic investigation carried out on their behalf”
“Also, fellow comrades in the civil society fear that this is a conspiracy to not only take him to a location beyond our reach but to also execute a wicked plot to silent him ultimately.”
“We, therefore, call on the commission to prevail on the police to respect the law of the land and refuse the bait to drag them into the politics of 2019 and release Deji Adeyanju who was arrested illegally and that has since been detained illegally since last Thursday 13th December, 2018.”
“We also want the commission to protect Deji Adeyanju from oppression, victimisation and police harassment. The NHRC establishment is aimed at the creation of an environment for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights. The whole World is aware that our fellow comrade Deji Adeyanju is a voice of the downtrodden and the oppressed who is only asking salient questions from the Authority towards a better Nigeria. Democracy will die on the day that the voice of opposition is no longer loud due to persecution and oppression like the one our fellow comrade Deji Adeyanju is now going through.”
Also speaking in same vein, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Timi Frank, has described the arrest and detention of Adeyanju, as an attempt to silence the remaining few activists speaking against the draconian style of the current administration.
Frank said if someone could be arrested and charged on account of leading a protest, Nigerians should rise up to demand for their rights as enshrined in the constitution before it gets out of hand.
In a statement signed in Abuja on Sunday, Frank called on the Judiciary not to allow itself to be used by the current “compromised Nigerian Police leadership” into trampling on the rights of the citizens, deploring the way and manner of operations by the current police’s leadership, has turned itself from the Nigerian Police Force into an APC Police Force.
While condemning what he called stringent bail conditions granted Deji Adeyanju after his trial, Frank revealed that “the Police was planning to re-arrest and charge him with terrorism anytime he is granted bail,” urging the judiciary to take note of how security agents are trying to silence the Human Rights fighters and the media.
The former APC spokesman also expressed gratitude to all the Civil Society Organizations, Activists and other Human Rights crusaders who have demonstrated concerns to Deji’s freedom. “We know that President Muhammadu Buhari through the Inspector General of Police ordered the arrest of Prince Deji Adeyanju for organizing #PoliceNotPolitician protest in Abuja. Nigerians must speak up now.”
“It is Prince Deji Adeyanju today, we don’t know who will be the next victim of arrest by the APC government. This same police could arrest someone on a peaceful demonstration, but couldn’t effect the arrest of any thug amongst the hoodlums who recently invaded the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.”
“The police IG should know that power is transient and that the effect of injustice done today does not end today but waits patiently for the future. I, hereby call on the Court to be fair to Prince Adeyanju, and also resist the police from unnecessary persecution of the Human Rights crusader.”
Adeyanju has said he staged a protest rally at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force to express his concerns over the perceived politicization of the Police ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He gave this explanation in a statement he co-signed with the conveners of five other civil society organisations in Abuja. The other signatories are Adebayo Raphael (Mumu Don Do Movement), Ariyo Dare Atoye, (Coalition in Defence Of Nigerian Democracy), Nwazuruahu Henry Shield (Leadership & Accountability Initiative) and Moses Paul (Mad Connect).
Adeyanju, who was arrested shortly after the protest began, said the concerns he and other activists sought to express were based on the current state of affairs in the country where the Police is increasingly seen as becoming a tool to be used against real and perceived political enemies of the ruling party were worsening.
“We gathered to express our concerns about the current state of affairs in the country where the Nigerian Police Force is increasingly becoming a tool to be used against real and perceived political enemies of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). These concerns have worsened as we have watched the institution of the Police become more and more desecrated as time passes by,” reads the statement.
“The most recent example of this desecration is the use of officers of the Police Force to provide security cover for 5 members of the 26 member Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to cause chaos and confusion in their illegal attempt to impeach the Speaker of the House.”
“Before this, we had seen the Police Force provide security cover for a few members of the Benue State House of Assembly to attempt to impeach the Speaker of the House as well. These events are closely allied to the deaths of Michael Adikwu, the major suspect in the Offa robbery and Nuhu Salisu, the major suspect in the allegations against Senator Dino Melaye for gun running in Police custody. In both cases, both men have been announced dead by the police in suspicious circumstances thereby ensuring that the cases are more difficult to resolve.”
“It is important to note that these deaths come at a time when Nigerians clamour for a conclusion to their trials. It is also important to note that statements made by both men absolve the major opposition figures against whom the allegations were made of any wrongdoing.”
“The deaths of these men raise several questions about ability of the police to provide justice to victims of violent crimes. What are the causes of death? Did the Police conduct an autopsy? Where are the autopsy reports? At what point did the suspects die?” “Having reviewed the above, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Police Force as constituted under the current Inspect General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has become a threat to our democracy. IGP Idris’ penchant for bias and willingness to be used as a tool against real or perceived enemies of the ruling APC is very clear and apparent.”
“It is in this light that we called on President Muhammadu Buhari to remove IGP Idris from office, institute an investigation into the invasion of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly by the Police, to determine the officer(s) who gave the orders for this illegal action and to bring such officers to book, and also institute a transparent investigation into the deaths of the two prime suspects in police custody and make the findings public.”
“It is important for the President to note that the continued retention of the IGP in office is likely to lead to anarchy as he constantly seeks to bend and break the very laws he swore to protect in the first place.”
“President Buhari should be reminded that when the former DG of SSS directed his men to invade the National Assembly in an attempt to change the leadership, the then Acting President -Professor Yemi Osinbajo sacked Daura. We expect same treatment for the IGP in this case of invasion of the Akwa State House of Assembly. Nigerians must note that the tenure of the IGP has expired and if President Muhammadu Buhari insists on keeping IGP Idris in office, both men will be held responsible for any calamity that befalls the nation,” the statement concluded.
The police re-arrested Adeyanju on December 13, barely a week after he was released on bail over duplicated charges of defamation initiated by the police and the Nigerian Army.
Mr Atoye, as well as relatives and lawyers of Adeyanju say the police have disclosed that the political activist was being sought this time over a murder case from his university days.
They admitted Mr Adeyanju, alongside three others, was arrested and charged with murder, but were concerned about the real intention behind the latest arrest because the case was resolved nearly a decade ago, with Mr Adeyanju being found not guilty and consequently acquitted.
Born in 1979, Adeyanju, who also spearheaded the #EndSARS campaign, had his formative years in the north, where he attended his early and secondary education. While studying at Bayero University, Kano, in the 2000s, Mr Adeyanju was arrested and charged with murder alongside three others.
Following his arrest, Mr Adeyanju again protested his innocence, and named rights lawyer Festus Keyamo, now spokesperson of the Buhari Campaign as his defence attorney in the case.
Mr Keyamo told Premium Times he represented Mr Adeyanju in the matter when it started in 2005 until a verdict was reached in 2009. He also said the political activist was discharged and acquitted, with the prosecution failing to file any appeal because it was satisfied with the ruling.
Despite Mr Keyamo’s disclosure, the police declined to release Mr Adeyanju, even while failing to publicly explain the matter to Nigerians.
Mr Keyamo released copies of the judgement from his chamber this weekend, and a review by Premium Times showed Mr Adeyanju was discharged and acquitted.
Mr Adeyanju was accused by the prosecution of killing a Kano businessman, Alhassan Ali, after stalking him from a hotel to a house on January 6, 2005 in Kano.
The prosecution said Mr Adeyanju was the one who opened fire at Mr Ali, killing him on the spot before fleeing in a waiting vehicle that night. He was charged with culpable homicide, alongside three other persons said to be his accomplice.
But Mr Adeyanju, who enrolled to study English at Bayero University, Kano, in 2000, strongly denied the allegations, saying he was not even in Kano on the night of the killing.
His defence team was able to prove that Mr Adeyanju was indeed not in Kano, and the judge said he was convinced by the alibi submitted. It was on this basis, as well as the failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt as required in such criminal proceeding, that Mr Adeyanju was found not guilty, discharged and acquitted on June 11, 2009, court filings showed.
Many now fear that Adeyanju’s inexplicable detention is part of the grand design to make critics of the government to buckle under.
But Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Lai Mohammed dismissed any insinuations about clampdown on civil society with the re-arrest and detention of Adeyanju
“There is no clampdown on any civil society, except in the wild imagination of naysayers. As I have said, being in opposition is no licence to break the law and then hope to escape justice,” he said.
“If the police have re-arrested Adeyanju, they must have a compelling reason to do so. Anyone who breaks the law must face justice’’.