Binniyat under “persecution, not prosecution” says Defense counsel
24/11/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – On Tuesday, the district court in Barnawa, Kaduna state, refused bail of journalist Luka Binniyat for the second time. Binniyat is being held for reporting on the persecution of Christians in southern Kaduna, where Christian farmers are frequently the target of Fulani activists. Under the leadership of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna government has remained largely silent on the issue. Binniyat’s arrest suggests he would prefer journalists to remain silent on the matter as well.
Lawyer Yakubu Bawa, Binniyat’s defense counsel, asked the judge to release Binniyat. Other than that, he demanded that Binniyat be released on bail in accordance with his constitutional rights. The prosecution rejected these requests, asking the judge for additional time. “We need legal advice to pursue the case”, said MD Leo, squire, who represented the police commissioner. “[Binniyat] cannot be released on bail.
Barnawa Magistrate’s Chief Justice His Honor the Honorable Aliu Dogora refused bail and adjourned the case pending a decision on December 6, 2021. Bawa told the ICC he had âBinniyat’s confidence will be discharged. He is innocent, he was simply expressing his freedom as a journalist. State government law threatens journalists.
“It is clear that the prosecutor is not ready with the case”, Bawa told court on Tuesday. âBinniyat has the right under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be released on bail or released. “ Speaking to an ICC in Kaduna, Bawa protested the detention of his client. “Binniyat faces persecution, not prosecution”, he added.
The Nigerian Journalists Union of Kaduna State has so far not reported on the persecution of Binniyat even though he is a member of the union.
“I want to celebrate Christmas with my husband” said Binniyat’s wife, Gladys. She is the mother of five boys and one girl and told ICC the children needed her. “They want to see him – celebrating Christmas without him will affect the whole family, including his sick father who stays with us”, she said. âIt is becoming difficult to feed the children. Its absence affects us.
Binniyat was previously jailed in 2017 by the Kaduna state government for covering up the persecution of Christians in southern Kaduna. âI will encourage my husband to continue writing for persecuted Christians,Gladys said. ” He tells the truth.
In a press release, the International Committee on Nigeria said that Luka Binniyat Reported what he believed to be the truth, which should be protected by the Nigerian constitution in a so-called democratic society. His quotes were neither threatening nor defamatory as they referred to an ongoing crisis in southern Kaduna.
Last week, the US State Department announced its list of designations of world freedom violators. Nigeria, which was named a country of particular concern last year for committing or tolerating âSystematic, continuous and flagrant violations of freedom of religionâ. No explanation was given for the change, which surprised human rights watch groups in Washington and around the world.
âThe United States has been a consistent champion of religious freedom around the world for years, so the State Department’s decision to exclude Nigeria from the list of countries of particular concern is extremely surprising and disappointing. said Jay Church, ICC Africa Advocacy Officer. âRemoving Nigeria from the CPC list does not exactly reflect the dire situation on the ground in Nigeria, as Luka’s case illustrates. The government-led persecution is alive and well in Nigeria and should be universally condemned by the international community.
CPI recently published a report analyzing how state governments in Nigeria are escalating the persecution. Of particular concern are the twelve central and northern states that encourage or allow the enforcement of Sharia criminal law and the use of sharia courts to enforce Islamic religious codes.
Kaduna State, where Binniyat was arrested, is a particularly dangerous place to be a Christian in Nigeria. The recent ICC report also sheds light on the problematic governor of Kaduna, El-Rufai, who recently repressed religious expression when he resurrected the Military Age Interfaith Preaching Regulatory Council to regulate preaching and pastor.
Although El-Rufai presents this as a measure to reduce religious violence, he himself has a troubling history of fueling religious tensions. El-Rufai even claimed, in a tweet published on September 8, 2014, that Christians were behind Boko Haram, funding and controlling it. âTo tarnish the name of Islam. In his tweet, he accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christians of being behind bombings and shootings in churches. Far from being a front for CAN, Boko Haram is an Islamist terrorist group closely linked to the Islamic State.
In the days leading up to his 2019 re-election, El-Rufai stoked public anger and physical violence when he falsely claimed that 130 Fulani were killed in Kajuru, a town near the capital Kaduna. The Fulani are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group. Many, including the National Emergency Management Agency and El Rufai’s own police commissioner, have denied his claims. In fact, eleven indigenous Catholics were killed in Kajuru a few days before his remarks. Suspected Fulani militants killed 127 people in Kajuru in the month following El Rufai’s statement in what were believed to be retaliatory attacks.
In 2012, El-Rufai threatened anyone who could challenge the Fulani, even in the performance of their military duties. âWe’re going to write this for everyone to read. Anyone, soldier or not, who kills the Fulani takes out a loan payable one day, no matter how long it takes â, he tweeted. When he took office as governor in 2015, he said that “The Peuls have nothing to fear, since a Peul [is] now governor of the state.
El-Rufai has repeatedly used harsh lockdown orders to punish protests in Christian communities. These orders prohibit the villagers from leaving their homes, rendering them unable to monitor the attackers. In at least seven cases, these lockdown orders directly preceded deadly attacks by activists that left hundreds dead during El-Rufai’s tenure as governor.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected]