The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has reacted to a media report which alleged that a civil servant in Kwara State was sacked from service for reportedly criticizing him on Facebook.
The report on the social media, which gave the name of the civil servant as Biodun Baba, said he was arraigned in court for calling Mr Saraki “a bastard”, but that the charges were later dropped.
The Punch newspaper had reported that the case was adjourned to August 3 following an application by the complainant to withdraw it.
According to the report, Mr. Baba, 37-year-old primary school teacher and member of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State was arraigned on Thursday before a Magistrate Court in Ilorin, Kwara State, presided by Ahmad Dasuki.
This followed a complainant by the APC Chairman for Kwara Central Senatorial District, Jimoh Adesina,.
In a direct criminal complaint, Mr. Adeshina had accused Mr. Baba of Ile Kolawole Gambari Ward 1, Ilorin East Local Government Area, of offences bordering on criminal act, inciting disturbance, disturbance of public peace, injurious falsehood, printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory and insulting to a religion.
According to the Judicial (NR) Form 2 issued by the court, Mr. Baba’s alleged offences were contrary to sections 113, 114, 393, 394 of the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria; and sections 883 and 204 of the Criminal Code Act.
He said, “Since July, 2017, the accused through his Facebook wall, has been inciting the public against the representative of the APC at the Upper chambers representing Kwara-Central Senatorial District, Dr. Olubukola Saraki, the incumbent Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Baba has been asserting undue influence on innocent persons which is a threat to public peace by spreading falsehood which has caused and still causing disaffection, pandemonium within the citizens of Kwara State and beyond, by disparaging the
person of the Senate President, the good people of Kwara-Central Senatorial District, which he represents, Kwarans, party supporters and loyalist and on a larger spectrum and by extension, bringing the revered position of the Senate President to disrepute.
“The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the dissemination of false and untrue information accentuated with malice about the third citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the whole world, urging the public not to cast vote for him as a Senator in 2019 in the column of his FB of July 3, 2017 by 9.54pm.
“The statement in fact is credited to the accused person after necessary investigation was carried out.”
After the matter was called up, however, counsel to the complainant, Sikiru Solagberu, told the court that his client had written him a letter to withdraw the case.
Citing Section 248 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 41, Laws of the Federation 2004 to support the application for withdrawal; he said Mr. Adeshina was withdrawing the case as a result of intervention by the Ilorin Emirate Traditional Council, traditional institutions from various communities in the state, party loyalists and supporters.
Counsel to the accused, Sambo Muritala, however, said in a situation of ‘non compoundable offence,’ it was safer for the complainant’s counsel to make proper application before the court and support it with a ‘weighty affidavit.’
He stated that coming by way of proper application and affidavit would demonstrate the wish of the complainant to compound the said non compoundable offence, adding that this would help the court in future record.
Mr. Muritala further submitted that the complaint was an abuse of court process and frivolous.
“The Court will be properly armed to give consequential order, which is the dismissal of the case,” He added.
Replying to Mr. Muritala’s submission, Mr. Solagberu said there was no abuse of court process in the action before the court.
He also submitted that the suit was not a civil matter to warrant deposing to affidavit.
“There is nothing in Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act and Criminal Procedure Code that enjoins a complainant to depose to an affidavit before a case is withdrawn from the court,” he added.
He further said the complainant’s letter before the court had satisfied the conditions for withdrawal of cases of this nature.
“If a party says he wants to withdraw in a criminal case, the court should use its instrumentality to assist the parties to withdraw,” he argued.
Mr. Dasuki, after listening to the arguments, adjourned the matter till August 3 for ruling on the application to withdraw the case.
But Mr Saraki on Thursday said on Facebook that the report that MR. Baba had been sacked was “entirely untrue”.
The Senate President wrote on the social media site: “As a public servant who has subjected myself to the service of my country, I face criticism everyday from many quarters.
“However, this does not deter me. It never has. I learn from the constructive criticisms, and continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to pass our legislative agenda for all Nigerians.
“I use social media. As such, I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and the use of social media to air out views.
“Throughout my time in public office, I have never attempted to stifle anyone’s freedom to speak his or her mind. This can be said of my time as a Governor, as a first time Senator, and now as the Senate President. This will not change,” Mr Saraki said.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with further details of the case.