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Tyranny In Kaduna: Activist, John Danfulani, Remanded In Prison Over Facebook Post

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John Danfulani, a prominent pro-democracy activist, has been remanded in prison after the Nasir El Rufai-led Kaduna State government over a Facebook comment he made in December, 2015.

Danfulani, a former lecturer in the Kaduna State University, has been an outspoken critic of Governor El Rufai. He was first arrested last December for the alleged “inciting” comment on social media which mocked supporters of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

“To them, APC is a religious party. Northern leaders under the party are demigods and crusaders of their ways of life,”Danfulani wrote as he also commented on the large number of children out of school in Northern Nigeria. “These people living in dusty villages of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa are quick in calling you ‘arne or kafiri’ (meaning pagan) once you express your view on anything their god PMB [President Muhammadu Buhari] and his brigade of small angels are doing. Attack the attacker, and lets the skies fall.”

To punish the activist, Governor El Rufai ordered his suspension as from the Kaduna State University and ordered that he be charged to a magistrate court for making “hate speech” on social media.

Dr. Danfulani was arraigned before a magistrate court by the state’s commissioner of police in January 2016. He was remanded in prison for 6 days before his bail application could be heard. The case was later struck out on a no locus standi. 

Following a series of articles by the human rights activist critical of the Kaduna governor, El Rufai has ordered that the case be resurrected and fresh charges be filed at the High Court in Kaduna.

“The Kaduna State Government has dragged me to a State High Court on allegation that I made “an inciting” social media update on 28th December 2015,” Danfulani wrote in a message to The Trent on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.  “The Kaduna government isn’t appealing the decision of the Chief Magistrate that sat on the same allegations but tabling same allegations (as a fresh case) in the High Court.”

He was arraigned before a state high court before Justice Bilkisu Mohammed on Wednesday after the Kaduna State ministry of justice filed a fresh charges against him.

He is facing criminal charges for expressing his opinion on Facebook and according to court documents, his Facebook post criticizing APC supporters falls under section 417 and 418 of the Penal Code Law.

The Facebook status on December 28, 2015, touched on the subject of fuel scarcity, dwindling value of the naira, and the high number of school-aged children out of school in the North. According to the state government, the post “sought to excite hatred and contempt against the people of Nigeria”.

Dr. Danfulani pleaded not when the charges were read to him. But the judge – acting on the orders of Governor El Rufai – ordered that he be remanded in prison till November 7, 2016 which is when she would return from a “seminar” and be available to listen to the bail application, which was already filed.

But Dr. Danfulani who spoke to newsmen at the court premises before taken to prison said he is being persecuted for simply criticizing the activities of both the state and federal government. He added that the constitution of the federal government gives him the right to freely express his opinion on issues of governance that he is not comfortable with.

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