KADUNA – A mild drama ensued yesterday at a Kaduna High presided by Justice Bilkisu Mohammed when Civil Rights Activist and former University don, Dr. John Danfulani, whose two lawyers had quit from defending him in protest over alleged curious conduct of the Judge, refused to say a word when docked for questioning.
It could be recalled that Dr. John Danfulani had been arrested on the 26th January 2016, arraigned before Chief Magistrate Court 1 Kaduna, Presided by Mallam Awallu Musa in Case No. KDH/KAD/102c/20016 and charged with breeching sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code. He was accused of posting an insulting post on his facebook wall against Northerners.
After series of appearances, he was discharged on 9th August 2016.
But on the 26th October 2016, he was re-arrested, arraigned this time at the present court, and subsequently spent 13 days in Kaduna Central Prisons because Justice Bilkisu Mohammed had had to travel for a seminar for that duration and as such, could not attend to his bail application.
On the 5th of February Barrister Yakubu I. Umaru had also said he feared that his client may not get justice from the same court based on the conduct of the Judge and removed himself from the case. In the next appearance, Barrsiter James Kanyip, who stood for Danfulani also left in protest alleging the same fears with Umaru.
When the case came up for continuation of hearing Tuesday, Danfulani told the court, “ I have gone round and no lawyer is ready to take up and defend me before this court”.
However, the State Deputy Director of Prosecution, Isiaka Muhammed told the court that “the case should continue since the defendant was under cross examination when his lawyer withdrew from the case”.
At this point, the High Court Judge, Justice Muhammed asked Dr. Danfulani about his capacity to defend himself at the next adjournment date, but he declined comment.
All other questions thrown at him were by the prosecution and the judge were met with stiff silence. For minutes, the court was eerily tense. Puzzle at the development, the trial judge adjourned the case till May 17, 2018 for the accused to continue his defence in the suit.
Speaking in an interview, outside the court, Danfulani said “this is Judicial terrorism. I am being persecuted because I am a Christian.
“I have written a petition to the Chief Judge of Kaduna state, pointing out that I am unlikely to get justice from the present Judge. I pleaded that the case be transferred to another judge. But to my surprise, the case was returned to her.
“If She (Judge) has no interest why can’t she quit or step down and ask another judge to handle the case. All the lawyers I contacted said they cannot defend me in her court.
“This is the first time a judge is refusing to step down even when my first lawyer withdrew from the case. No force on earth can intimidate me because we are not under apartheid regime in Nigeria”.
Meanwhile, the case of Mr Luka Binniyat, a Journalist, came up on Tuesday, before Justice Mairoa Mohammed of Kaduna High Court 3, but was adjourned to 24th May, 2017 because the lead counsel to the Journalist, Barrister Elisha Kura (SAN) was not in court.
It could be recalled that Binniyat, had been remanded in Prison Custody for 93 days between June and October, 2017, because he could not meet the stringent bail conditions set down for him on arraignment before Justice Bashir Sukola of Kaduna High Court 9.
Upon review of the bail terms on 8th October 2017, Justice Sukola passed to glory on the 25th of October 2017 and the case was then transferred to Justice Mohammed. His first appearance was on the 31st of January, 2018 before the present Judge.
Though Vanguard newspaper was not joined in the case, Binniyat is charged for breach of public peace and injurious falsehood punishable under Sections 114 and 393 of the penal code laws of Kaduna State.
Showing appearance for the prosecution, Barrister Ossy Ehikioya, told the court that there was an amendment to the earlier charges and sought to read the amended charge.
But, Barrister Desmond Tabakwot, who appeared for the Journalists said that the lead Counsel, Elisha Kura (SAN) had not given him enough brief on the matter, saying their was communication gap between Kura and the other members of the legal team defending Binniyat, and as such asked for adjournment.
The Justice Mairo then agreed for the 24th of May 2018 for commencement of the case.