. . . restrains him from arresting, prosecuting her over opinion
High Court 9 presided by Hon. Justice Esther Lolo has fined governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state N500,000 to be paid to Barrister Gloria Mabeiam Ballason in suit nos KDH/KAD/164/17 between her and the governor.
The court also restrained the governor from “arresting, prosecuting and jailing” the young lawyer for expressing her published opinion in a Nigerian newspaper.
The judgement sparked joy and celebration in many areas of Kaduna state.
The case which was first mentioned on 1st March, 2017 was filed by the Applicant’s Lagos- based lawyers Messrs Matthew Burkaa & Co.
Ballason had an array of prominent lawyers numbering 36. They include tough Human Rights Lawyer, Festus Okoye Esq, the Chairman Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA), Kaduna Branch, Ndasule Sherrif Esq, B.L. Aliyu Esq, Reuben James Esq ( Former 3rd national Vice President of the NBA), Mark Jacob ( Former Attorney General of Kaduna State), Timothy Kambai Esq, Mike Nwakanma Esq, Sule Shuaibu Esq, James Kanyip Esq, M.T. Mohammed Esq , Bavo Nyan Esq et al.
According to her lawyers, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State had threatened to arrest and prosecute Gloria for her civic activities including an opinion article she wrote on November 28th, 2016 in her column in the Blueprint Newspaper about the killings in Southern Kaduna. The threat, the court was told, was issued on 17th January, 2017 by the Governor at the Kaduna State Government House when the President of the Nigerian Bar, A.B. Mahmud SAN and his team including the Applicant paid an official visit to the Governor.
In her ruling, Justice Lolo found that contrary to the Governor’s denial, that indeed a threat had been issued, “which would put any reasonable person who understands the authority of a Governor in fear.”
The Court found that there was a likelihood of a breach of Right to life under section 33 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. She also affirmed that there has been an infringement of the dignity of the Applicant under section 34 of the 1999 constitution. She also ruled that there was a breach to the right of freedom of expression of the applicant and the Press under section 39 of the 199 constitution. The Court found that the article was also not injurious and ordered the Governor not to arrest the Applicant on the basis of same.
Damages was awarded in the sum of N50,000 and N10,000 was awarded as the cost of suit.
At the time of going to press, there was celebration in several areas of Kaduna state and by groups critical of the leadership of the governor.