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Christian Rights Body Decries “unwarranted delays” in Nigerian Journalist’s Court Hearing

Luka Binniyat. Credit: CSW

The leadership of the UK-based human rights foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), has denounced delays in the court process of a Nigerian journalist who has been detained since November last year for allegedly criticizing Kaduna State government's laxed approach to insecurity.

The court ruling for Luka Binniyat who, in his article published by the Epoque Times faulted the Kaduna State government’s response to the 26 September 2021 attacks, has been adjourned multiple times after the judge failed to attend scheduled hearings. 

“The unwarranted delays in his court hearings seem to be punitive actions designed to deprive him of his liberty for as long as possible, and in a manner incompatible with judicial impartiality and due process,” CSW Founder President, Mervyn Thomas says in a January 7 report

Mr. Binniyat was taken to the Barnawa Magistrate Court on 8 November 2021 and charged under the Cybercrimes Act. The next day, his lawyers applied for bail but it was denied. 

The Nigerian journalist who serves as the spokesperson for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) was brought to court on November 22 but the judge was absent. 

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At a different session held the following day, Mr. Binniyat’s lawyers argued he was being detained illegally as magistrate courts do not have jurisdiction over cyberstalking cases. 

The judge scheduled a bail hearing for December 6, but he (the judge) failed to turn up for the scheduled hearing claiming his annual leave had begun.

A new date, December 29, was set for the hearing but the judge still failed to attend the session. 

Apart from the delays in his court hearings, CSW officials are also concerned about the health of the journalist who is being detained at the Kaduna Maximum Custodial Centre.

According to The Middle Belt Times, when Mr. Binniyat’s wife, Gladys, visited the Kaduna Maximum Custodial Centre on January 5, she was informed that her husband was “too unwell to see her,” and that he had been taken to the “poorly equipped” prison clinic in a wheelchair on January 4. 

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In the January 7 report, Mr. Mervyn calls for the “immediate release” of the journalist who is “gravely ill in prison.”

He urges the Kaduna State Government officials to provide medical access to the journalist. 

“We counsel the Kaduna state authorities to ensure Mr. Binniyat receives comprehensive care, as they will be held accountable should anything untoward occur,” CSW Founder President says.  

He adds that the Kaduna State authorities need to “focus on arresting genuine instigators and perpetrators of violence, and protecting citizens regardless of their creed or ethnicity.”

“We also urge the international community to maintain close scrutiny on the situation in Kaduna, and across central Nigeria, raising this ongoing human rights crisis with the Nigerian government at every opportunity, and assisting in addressing the violence in every possible manner,” Mr. Mervyn says.

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