By Samuel Ogundipe
A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kano on Friday remanded Deji Adeyanju in prison until February 2019, after taking his plea and concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear murder charges against the political activist.
The police arrested Mr Adeyanju on December 13, accusing him of being complicit in a murder case from the 2000s.
But PREMIUM TIMES confirmed, after a review of the case, that Mr Adeyanju was discharged and acquitted by the Kano State High Court following a lengthy trial that lasted between 2005 and 2009.
The police in Abuja held Mr Adeyanju in detention without charges for five days before moving him to Kano earlier this week.
The police in Kano arraigned Mr Adeyanju before Hassan Fagge on December 19, but ordered his remand and scheduled today for bail hearing.
But when the court opened at about 9:42 a.m. Friday, Mr Fagge said he had determined that he lacked the power to hear the homicide charges brought against Mr Adeyanju by the police, but said the political activist should be remanded in prison until February 6 when a higher court could be available to hear the matter.
Mr Adeyanju was subsequently moved to Kano Central Prison, his lawyer, Yusuf Suleiman, told PREMIUM TIMES Friday afternoon, condemning the move as a desperate move by the Nigerian government to suppress a major critic a few weeks to the election.
“This is clearly an attempt to keep him unlawfully in detention,” Mr Suleiman said, adding that the matter was concluded nearly 10 years ago and should not have been picked up again by the police, much less taken back to court.
Mr Suleiman said the police in Kano are playing politics with Mr Adeyanju’s fundamental rights in a gruesome assault on the Nigerian Constitution.
After detaining him in Abuja for several days without arraignment, in violation of the Constitution that gives a maximum 48 years for such detention, “they now charged him for attempted murder which the magistrate said he has no power to hear,” Mr Suleiman said.
“Now a lower court is hearing a matter that the Kano State High Court had decided long ago,” he added.
The lawyer said efforts would be made to free Mr Adeyanju from custody before the February 6 adjourned date, including approaching a high court to immediately review the case.
Already, some of Mr Adeyanju’s friends have filed a separate suit for his fundamental rights enforcement before a federal court in Abuja.
Adebayo Raphael, one of the leading campaigners for Mr Adeyanju’s release, said in a message to PREMIUM TIMES shortly after 12:00 p.m. Friday that the FCT High Court in Jabi had ordered Mr Adeyanju’s immediate release from police custody. Details of judgement in the fundamental rights proceeding are still being reviewed.