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Court remands journalist in Bauchi

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

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.

Haruna is standing a one-count charge bordering on section 114 of the penal code which interprets to inciting disturbance of public peace.

Counsel for WikkiTimes, Idris Gambo applied for Haruna’s bail, contending that the alleged offense for which he’s being charged is bailable.

But Haruna Ibrahim who was sent from the Attorney General’s office to take over the case from police prosecutor opposed to Gambo’s application.

He stated that section 211 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) gives right to Attorney General to take over a case from the police.

In addition, counsel for the state government argued that it opposed the application in the interest of 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 a 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 pretense of protecting him.

However, Gambo, WikkiTimes 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 against those who wanted to take the law into their hands and not imprisoning the threatened citizen,” he argued.

Ahmad Tijani Musa, the presiding magistrate, however, ruled that Haruna be remanded in prison facility and adjourned the case till tomorrow for 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 civil duty and maneuvering 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 order 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 merchant 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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