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Haruna Muhammad, WikkiTimes Publisher, denied bail, albeit illegal detention


Haruna Muhammad, WikkiTimes Publisher, denied bail, albeit illegal detention

A magistrate court sitting in Bauchi State has remanded Haruna Mohammed Salisu, publisher of WikkiTimes after spending over 72 hours in detention illegally.

WikkiTimes understands that Governor Bala Mohammed, ordered Aminu Alhassan, Bauchi State Commissioner of Police to detain Haruna after he was arrested by his (the governor) security details at Duguri, Alkaleri local council where he was covering elections, on Saturday. Haruna is standing trial on a one-count charge bordering on section 114 of the penal code which interprets as inciting disturbance of public peace.

It can be recalled that Haruna Muhammad was being held at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Bauchi Police Headquarters allegedly on the orders of the state governor, Bala Mohammed.
Haruna was said to have been arrested earlier on Saturday at Duguri, the governor’s hometown in the local council, where he was covering the election.

READ ALSO:CCIJ condemns detention of WikkiTimes Publisher, Haruna Mohammed Salisu, demands immediate release

According to a statement by Wikki Times before the arrest, Haruna was interviewing some women who were protesting that they submitted CVs but were not employed. During the interview, the women started protesting that they would not vote.

Soon, some hoodlums alleged to be supporters of the governor attempted to lynch him before the police whisked him away. The police had earlier explained that he was taken away for his safety but refused to release him until the governor gives the order.

Meanwhile, Counsel for WikkiTimes, Idris Gambo applied for Haruna’s bail, contending that the alleged offence for which he’s being charged is bailable. However, the state counsel,  Haruna Ibrahim, who was sent from the Attorney General’s office to take over the case from the police prosecutor opposed Gambo’s application.

He stated that section 211 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) gives the right to Attorney General to take over a case from the police. In addition, counsel for the state government argued that he is opposed to the application in the interest of the WikkiTimes publisher.

He added that there are people outside who want to take the law into their hands. According to him, Haruna could be killed if granted bail. WikkiTimes had earlier reported that Haruna was lynched by some hoodlums loyal to Governor Bala. This was before the police took him away under the pretence of protecting him.

However, Gambo, WikkiTime’s counsel objected to his colleague’s arguments. He told the court that the government and the police should go after those people who wanted to come after his client.

“The authority should instead go after those who wanted to take the law into their hands and not imprison an innocent citizen,” he argued.
Ahmad Tijani Musa, the presiding magistrate, however, ruled that Haruna be remanded in a prison facility and adjourned the case till tomorrow for a hearing.

Hitherto, the Bauchi police boss told WikkiTimes through the command’s spokesman, Ahmed Wakil, he would not release Haruna until the governor directed him to.

Yakubu Mohammed, WikkiTimes editor believes the governor abused public office power by conniving with the Bauchi police boss to infringe upon Haruna’s freedom and affronting press freedom.

“This is a direct attack against press freedom,” he said. “The governor should know the implications of his actions. You can’t be holding someone for doing his civic duty and manoeuvring the police to have your way.”

“The commissioner of police did not hide his bias and selfish interest in the case,” he continued. “He has also abused his office and trust reposed on him.” Yakubu added: “We no longer have confidence in the commissioner again as he has shown to us that he’s against the oppressed and could take orders from whoever directs him to.
“In a normal society where things work, the commissioner should be summoned by the Police Service Commission for abusing his office.
“Police should know they are not merchants of oppressive government and should remain transparent in whatever they do.

“We would not be deterred from doing serious journalism that holds power to account. WikkiTimes cannot be gagged by oppressors”.

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