Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Reporter’s Diary: How charges against Aminu Mohammed were dramatically withdrawn by Aisha Buhari

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The FCT high court, Abuja on Friday discharged Aminu Mohammed, a final-year student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, after the first lady, Aisha Buhari, withdrew the case against him.

DAILY NIGERIAN had exclusively reported how Mrs Buhari bowed to pressure and withdrew the charge against Mr Mohammed on Friday.

Mr Mohammed was arraigned on a count charge of defamation of character, after he tweeted on June 8 that the first lady had eaten poor people’s money and grown fat.

According to a police report, the suspect was arrested at the Federal University Dutse on 18 November 2022 after Mrs Buhari instructed a team of police detectives to track him down.

Before his arraignment in court, Mr Muhammed was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings.

He was then held in an unknown location and denied access to his family and lawyer, in clear violation of international human rights law.

At his arraignment on Tuesday, after listening to the application by the counsels, the presiding judge, Yusuf Halilu, ordered his remand in Suleja prison.

Defense lawyer, Kingsley Agu had filed an application for bail for Mr Mohammed due to his upcoming examinations on December 5 and poor health.

DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the hearing for the bail application was initially scheduled for Monday, December 5, but the judge suddenly decided to hear the application on Friday December 2, after much pressure from prosecuting and defense counsels.

While presenting the bail application on Friday, Mr Agu said, “My Lord, this application seeks an order of this court admitting the defendant to bail pending the determination and final outcome of the case”.

After submitting the written address and bail request by the defense counsel, the prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, did not object to the application.

“No opposition, my lord,” Mr Ogbobe said.

After listening to the application, the judge said, “I’m supposed to rule on the application today? Is that what you people want?” he asked.

“As the court pleases. We would appreciate it, my lord,” the defense counsel replied.

Mr Halilu then requested a 10-minute break to enable him to write the judgment in his chamber.

“No problem, I don’t want to sit here for 20 minutes and be writing. Give me 10 minutes and let me sit in the comfort of my chamber and write.

“I will write the ruling and come back and deliver the ruling,” he declared.

But in a dramatic twist, when the judge returned to his seat to rule on the bail application, the prosecuting counsel informed the court that he had another application.

The application, he said, would affect the court’s ruling.

“Go ahead, please,” the judge ordered.

“My lord, I have another application that may affect the ruling of this court. My lord, after due consultation with the complainant in this case, which is the commissioner of police, we have decided to withdraw the charge against the defendant.

“The nominal complainant did inform us that upon the intervention of individuals and organizations, and as the mother of the nation, she has decided to withdraw and forgive the defendant.

“Therefore, my lord, we apply that the charge against the defendant in this honourable court be withdrawn.

“My lord, I place reliance on Section 108 2(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act,” he submitted, to the surprise of those in the court.

“We have no objections,” says the Mr Agu, who is Mr Mohammed’s lawyer.

Delivering his ruling, the judge said, “Whilst I consider this position of the wife of the president most commendable, I must use this opportunity to talk to us all, as parents and guardians, to learn to talk to our wards to ensure we use the media space very well. That will benefit us, and not cause us any harm or injury.

“Any sleepless night caused a parent is indeed a thing that causes worry, and I’m certain this era of infotech is responsible for the young man’s incarceration.

“Now that the first lady has forgiven him and the complainant, that is the commissioner of police, has withdrawn the charge before me, I will wish him very well by striking out the said charge and ordering for his release.

“Accordingly, the said charge filed before me is hereby struck out, and the defendant is hereby discharged.”

Mr Halilu immediately signed the production warrant, which was taken to the Suleja prison to effect Mr Mohammed’s release on Friday evening.

Before the ruling on the bail application, family sources informed our correspondent who was at the court sitting that the family would approach the court to seek N2billion in damages against Mrs Buhari and the police for the torture and illegal detention of Mr Mohammed.

But it’s not clear whether they would made good their threat after the withdrawal of the charge.

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