Activist Deji Adeyanju released from prison

Deji Adeyanju (Photo Credit: Politics Nigeria)
Deji Adeyanju (Photo Credit: Politics Nigeria)

Seventy-eight days after he was controversially arrested by the police, Deji Adeyanju has been released from custody.

Mr Adeyanju told PREMIUM TIMES he was freed from Kano Central Prison on Friday afternoon. The freedom comes nearly two weeks the Kano State High Court granted the activist a bail.

Mr Adeyanju said he was on his way to Lagos, from where he would later travel to Abuja where he has lived and worked for over a decade.

Mr Adeyanju’s arrest on December 13 on allegations of murder has drawn nationwide attention.

The arrest itself came after the activist had spent a week in prison between late November and early December 2018. He was leading a protest against alleged police bias ahead of the general elections when he was arrested and accused of defamation against senior security chiefs.

The police did not file substantive charges of murder against Mr Adeyanju. The December 13 arrest was linked to a homicide case that was concluded in 2009.

Although Mr Adeyanju was named in the murder trial, he was discharged and acquitted after four years of prosecution in 2009. He was remanded in custody while the trial lasted.

The police said the matter was not wholesomely concluded, suggesting that Mr Adeyanju might have jumped bail. Still, they did not immediately charge the activist for murder, initially keeping him for days without trial, in contravention of the Nigerian law that prohibits detention of a suspect beyond 48 hours without charges.

After several weeks in detention, Mr Adeyanju was granted a bail on February 18 by the Kano State High Court. But his friends raised an alarm a few days later, accusing court officials of frustrating his release as part of a plot to keep him away from participating in the election.

Legal analysts argued Mr Adeyanju could be a victim of double jeopardy, a constitutional principle that forbids multiple trial of a citizen for a single offense.

Mr Adeyanju, a critic of the Buhari administration, said his arrest was unjustified, politically motivated and an attempt to keep him away from the public beyond the presidential election.

The election held on February 23 and President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner for a second term.

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