The police in Abuja have detained Deji Adeyanju again, his associates have told PREMIUM TIMES.
A message from Ariyo-Dare Atoye, a long-time friend of Mr Adeyanju, said the political activist was arrested after 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.
It was learnt that the police are demanding to establish the conclusion of a murder trial involving Mr Adeyanju in the mid and late 2000s.
“They are holding him at the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit over a murder case from his university days,” Mr Atoye said.
“Even though it is true that he was arrested and charged for murder when he was a student of Bayero University Kano, we are very sure that he was discharged and acquitted in the case,” Mr Atoye said.
Mr Adeyanju was at the unit, which was specially established to tackle specific serious crimes ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery, to retrieve the last of his three mobile telephone devices which the police seized from him when he was first arrested on November 28.
As of 9:30 p.m., Mr Atoye said he had contacted lawyers on behalf of Mr Adeyanju.
“The police said he jumped bail in 2005 and are asking for him to provide the certified true copy of the case in order to establish that he was indeed discharged,” Mr Atoye added. “We find this extremely embarrassing for our country, but we would try and get the copies tomorrow.”
Mr Adeyanju spent four years in prison between 2005 and 2009 after he was arrested with three others on murder charges while a student of Bayero University.
Festus Keyamo, a rights lawyer and current campaign spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari, defended Mr Adeyanju and the three others. One of the other three was Musa Daura, said to be a relative of Mamman Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew.
“I represented Deji Adeyanju in the matter from 2005 until 2009, and I can tell you categorically that he was not only discharged but also acquitted,” Mr Keyamo told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Thursday night.
Mr Keyamo said he represented Mr Adeyanju on a pro-bono (free) basis at the time, buoyed largely by his longstanding interest in helping students from legal dilemma.
“Immediately I heard he was a student, I picked up the case and by the grace of God we won it and he was discharged and acquitted,” Mr Keyamo emphasised.
Mr Adeyanju had asked that Mr Keyamo be contacted to verify his statement that the senior lawyer represented him in the case, and PREMIUM TIMES placed a call for corroboration.
“I am giving you this information because you told me he had said you should call to verify, I otherwise would never have done it because it falls under the lawyer and client privilege,” Mr Keyamo said.
Bala Ciroma, the police commissioner in Abuja, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night he was not aware that Mr Adeyanju had been arrested again and was being held at his office.
Adebayo Raphael, one of the activists in ConcernedNigerians, an advocacy group founded by Mr Adeyanju, said the plot was to hold his colleague in prison for a long time.
“What they are plotting to do is to take him to Kano and manipulate a judge there to have have him re-arraigned on murder charges, for which he probably would not be granted bail,” Mr Raphael said. “It is an anti-democratic and evil plot but one which we would ensure is defeated.”
Mr Keyamo told PREMIUM TIMES he coordinated the trial for Mr Adeyanju and three others until the matter was completely resolved in 2009, and the federal prosecutors did not file any appeal because they were “satisfied” by the judgment.
Mr Adeyanju spent eight nights in prison after being arrested on November 28 while leading a protest against alleged bias by security chiefs in the build up to the general elections.
The police said his campaign was defamatory, and seized the arrest to exhume a flurry of social media posts of Mr Adeyanju’s that were deemed defamatory.
Mr Adeyanju was immediately arraigned in the afternoon of November 28 at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Karshi, Abuja.
Although he was granted bail on the same day, he was unable to meet the conditions on the spot, and was taken to the federal prisons in Keffi, where he remained until December 6.
On December 3, he fulfilled the bail conditions on the police charges, and was released from prison.
However, immediately after his release, the police, who had laid in wait near the prison for Mr Adeyanju to emerge, re-arrested him again, saying there was a fresh petition from Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai.
Mr Buratai’s allegations against Mr Adeyanju were similar to those already filed by the police, but that did not stop them from arraigning him before another magistrate’s court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, on December 4.
He was initially remanded for two days on Mr Buratai’s charges, but secured a bail on December 6. He met the conditions on the stop and was allowed to go home for the first time in eight nights.
Following his release on December 6, Mr Adeyanju went days without his mobile telephones. The police released two out of the three telephones seized from him after about four days, Mr Atoye said.
“He was there to pick up his last telephone today when they held him,” Mr Atoye said.
Mr Adeyanju, who has taken a hard-line stance again Mr Buhari’s government, became a full-time activist after his tenure as the director of social media for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ended in 2017.
He has led several protests against the government, including ones demanding justice for members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, and their detained leader, Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.
He resumed his advocacy on Wednesday, leading activists from Abuja to Kaduna to demand release of Segun Onibiyo, a social critic who has been held in custody for weeks.
Mr Onibiyo was released on bail when his matter was called for hearing Wednesday afternoon, and Mr Adeyanju returned to Abuja, where he has lived and worked for several years, shortly thereafter.