Deji Adeyanju and two others who were arrested and arraigned on Wednesday are to spend the second night in prison after the presiding chief magistrate failed to show up for a bail hearing on Thursday.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt from Ariyo-Dare Atoye, a long-time friend of Mr Adeyanju, that the activists had met their bail conditions, but would require the presence of the judge to sign off on their release.
Mr Adeyanju was arrested on Wednesday morning while leading a protest against police bias ahead of 2019 general elections. He was arrested with two other activists, Daniel Abobama and Boma Williams.
Mr Adeyanju accused Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris and other security chiefs of exhibiting overt allegiance to President Muhammadu Buhari, warning that they could compromise security operations to ensure the president is re-elected at the general elections next February.
He led other activists to the headquarters of foreign missions in Abuja last week.
Following their arrest on Wednesday morning by the officers sent to quell the demonstration, the police arraigned Messrs Adeyanju, Abobama and Williams at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Karshi, a low-income suburb of Abuja.
After failing to immediately meet their bail terms, the activists were taken to the federal correctional facility in Keffi, home to Nasarawa State University about 40 minutes drive from Abuja.
Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood said in a statement that the activists’ actions were criminally defamatory, and also capable of incitement and breach of public peace.
He strongly denied all allegations of bias raised by Mr Adeyanju and others, saying the police remain a professional institution before which the interest of Nigerians takes priority of political officeholders, including the president.
Screenshots of Mr Adeyanju’s social media posts were attached to the statement, and Mr Moshood indicated they would form a key part of police evidence during the activist’s trial.
Calls have mounted for Mr Adeyanju’s release since Wednesday afternoon. Amongst those who have issued statements and warned the police against eroding Nigeria’s democratic tenets — amongst which the rights to speech and demonstration are key elements — are Amnesty International and Enough Is Enough Nigeria.
Top politicians like Shehu Sani and Oby Ezekwesili have also condemned the detention of Mr Adeyanju and prevailed on the police to immediately set him and other detained comrades free.
Mr Atoye told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday afternoon the presiding magistrate, Aliu Kagarko, would be available to sign the bail documents of the activists on Friday morning.
The bail terms set by Mr Kagarko included a level-14 civil servant, a prominent businessman with N20 million bond.
We have secured the “three level-14 civil servants,” Mr Atoye said. “The businessmen angle too is sorted.”
Mr Atoye lamented that Mr Adeyanju and the two others would be in custody until Friday, but was upbeat that they would be released before mid-day.
“We just have to present the sureties to the magistrate tomorrow for his endorsement, and we would be on our way to prisons to pick them up from there,” Mr Atoye said.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...