De­tained jour­nal­ist strug­gling to meet bail con­di­tions

Sunday Trust - - MEDIA -

From Chris­tiana T. Alabi, Kaduna

The de­tained Kaduna jour­nal­ist and for­mer staff of Van­guard News­pa­pers, Luka Bin­niyat is still strug­gling to meet the bail con­di­tions granted him by a high court over his case af­ter about 60 days.

The High Court had on July 20, 2017 granted him bail or be re­manded in prison till Au­gust 31, 2017 should he failed to meet the con­di­tions. Jus­tice Bashir Sukola who granted the ap­pli­ca­tion in the sum of N10 mil­lion with two sureties in the like sum and a bank bond in same amount, with de­po­si­tion of the sureties’ in­ter­na­tional pass­port or­dered that Bin­niyat be re­manded in prison un­til he was able to meet the con­di­tions and had since then re­mained in prison for his in­abil­ity to meet the con­di­tions.

Al­though, there have been con­dem­na­tions say­ing the con­di­tions are too strin­gent. A coun­sel to the jour­nal­ist, Alex Marama also ex­pressed sur­prise over the con­di­tions.

The high court had ear­lier dur­ing its sit­ting of July 12, 2017 or­dered that Bin­niyat be re­manded in prison un­til the next hear­ing. Bin­niyat who ap­peared in the court­room in crutches, fol­low­ing an ac­ci­dent pleaded not guilty to the charges but the judge ad­journed the mat­ter till July 20 pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the bail ap­pli­ca­tion filed by his lawyer. At the con­tin­u­a­tion of hear­ing on July 20, he was granted bail with strin­gent con­di­tions he is yet to meet.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore the high court again on Au­gust 31 still with crutches, the court or­dered that Bin­niyat be re­manded in the con­vict prison pend­ing the time his bail con­di­tions will be re­viewed. The case was ad­journed to Oc­to­ber 9, 2017 as a re­sult of an ap­peal for ad­journ­ment filed by the pros­e­cut­ing coun­sel led by Kaduna State Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion, Bayero Dari; mean­ing that he is likely to spend ad­di­tional 23 days to stay in prison be­fore the con­di­tions would be re­viewed.

Speak­ing out­side the court room, Dari said the ad­journ­ment was not de­lib­er­ate ex­plain­ing that the in­stant ad­journ­ment was nec­es­sary be­cause the case had been trans­ferred to a Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of Nige­ria (SAN) who has been de­briefed and needed time to go through the case file.

But the lead coun­sel to the ac­cused, Bar­ris­ter James Kanyip said he was dis­ap­pointed that the con­di­tion re­view was not done at the sit­ting. He ar­gued that the mo­tion for re­view was filed since Au­gust 7, 2017 adding that the pros­e­cut­ing team had am­ple time to study it. He how­ever vowed to seek re­dress at the Court of Ap­peal if the mo­tion was not treated sat­is­fac­to­rily.

It would be re­called that Bin­niyat was on Fe­bru­ary 6, 2017 in­vited for ques­tion­ing by the Kaduna State Com­mand of State Se­cu­rity Ser­vice, (SSS) over an al­le­ga­tion of fal­si­fy­ing a news re­port about the South­ern Kaduna cri­sis. Af­ter the interrogation, he was handed over to the po­lice who later charged him to court. He was ar­raigned be­fore a mag­is­trate court in Kaduna where he was ac­cused of falsely claim­ing that five stu­dents of the Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion, Gi­dan Waya were am­bushed and shot dead by herders in a re­port that was pub­lished in the Van­guard newspaper on Jan­uary 22, 2017.

The Chief Mag­is­trate, Em­manuel Yusuf then granted him bail on a N200, 000 bond and a surety in like sum. He said the surety must re­side within the ju­ris­dic­tion of the court and pos­sess landed prop­erty within the ju­ris­dic­tion of the court, cov­ered with a Cer­tifi­cate of Oc­cu­pancy.

The state govern­ment later took the case to the state high court where fresh charges were lev­eled against him. He was sub­se­quently charged for a breach of pub­lic peace and in­ju­ri­ous false­hood, pun­ish­able un­der sec­tion 114 and 393 of the pe­nal code laws of Kaduna State.

The Nige­ria Union of Jour­nal­ists (NUJ) has how­ever con­demned the con­tin­u­ous in­car­cer­a­tion of Bin­niyat who was a one-time chair­man of the Kaduna correspondent chapel of NUJ. The vice pres­i­dent, South-East of NUJ, Com­rade Christo­pher Isiguzo in an in­ter­view af­ter vis­it­ing Bin­niyat in prison de­scribed as un­ac­cept­able the in­car­cer­a­tion of Bin­niyat and other jour­nal­ists.

He also ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over the con­di­tions at­tached to his bail. “We are talk­ing about a jour­nal­ist and not a crim­i­nal or hood­lum. He was not part of those ask­ing peo­ple to va­cate any part of the coun­try and you are at­tach­ing such strin­gent bail con­di­tions to him,” he lamented, say­ing that NUJ would set­tle for noth­ing less than his re­lease.

He there­fore on the Chief Jus­tice of Nige­ria and the Na­tional Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion to in­ter­vene on the judges so that they don’t con­tinue to drag the im­age of the ju­di­ciary in the mud.

How­ever, the ques­tion Bin­niyat had con­tin­ued to ask was why the state govern­ment chose to fo­cus on his per­son rather than his or­ga­ni­za­tion that pub­lished the al­leged story since Van­guard newspaper was his prin­ci­pal.

Luka Bin­niyat ar­riv­ing court premises on July 20, 2017

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.