The member representing Madobi state constituency at the Kano State House Assembly, Kabiru Isma’il, has insisted that a student of Bayero University, Kano, Yahuza Tijani, would remain in jail for allegedly insulting him in a Facebook post.
Mr Tijani has been in detention since September 30 over the incident.
A leaked recording emerged Thursday in which the lawmaker said the chief judge of the state, Nurudeen Sagir, ordered the prolonged detention of the student and vowed not to accept any plea to set the student free.
But the state Ministry of Justice has refuted the claim that the chief judge was involved in the matter.
The lawmaker was recorded on tape on Monday while hosting students union leaders of Bayero University who visited to plead for the release of their colleague.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Tijjani, a second-year student of Bayero University, was remanded in prison for criticising the lawmaker on Facebook. Since then, efforts to secure his release have been unsuccessful.
Mr Tijani’s brother had narrated how the student was denied bail and sent to jail on the day he was charged with defamation of character. Mr Tijani was arraigned before a magistrate, Aminu Gabari, of Court 72 in Noman’s Land in Fagge local government area of the state.
A week later, the judge granted Mr Tijjani bail on strict conditions which the detainee’s brother said the family was unable to meet.
“Whenever the judge slated time for the case, he wouldn’t come. This made us suspicious that the judiciary, the last hope for Mr Tijjani, has been compromised,” the brother said.
“The last time we saw the judge, he told us that the case had been transferred to the office of the state’s chief judge and that there was nothing he could do about it. We rushed to the court to see the chief judge but we were denied access to him,” Mr Tijjani’s brother said.
‘N50 million to N100 million rich’
But speaking with the students delegation on Monday at his residence at Dorayi quarters in Kano, the lawmaker bragged that even the Emir of Kano cannot persuade him to forgive the student, according to the leaked audio recording.
In the tape, exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the lawmaker boasted about his wealth. He said he has between N50 million and N100 million in his bank account, unlike the student, Mr Tijjani, who he said did not have N100,000 to his name.
Mr Ismail said in his community, Kafi (one of the largest communities in Madobi LGA), nobody is richer than him.
“Also in politics, I am above everyone in Madobi local government area,” the lawmaker told his supplicating students guests.
Below is a transcription of the conversation on the audio tape:
“In the whole of Madobi Local Government Area, if there’s any bastard that can do whatever he wants, I’m that person. Nobody can dare me and walk away with it.
“I did justice to Mr Tijjani because if you see what he did to me, how many lashes did you think he would received in court? And if I claim damages on what he did to me, he doesn’t have the financial capability to pay the damages.
“Even without being a lawmaker, I can brag about having N50 million to N100 million; but Tijjani does not have even N100,000; with this I’m above him.
“Also, by the virtue of my position in the state, only six people can give me directives on what to do: the governor, the police commissioner, director SSS (even then on security matters), Speaker (of the state House of Assembly), my party chairman and the court. Apart from them, even the Emir of Kano cannot give me directives because God has put me above him.
“By age, I’m above Mr Tijjani. In wealthy materials, in the whole of Kafi community, nobody can match my financial status. In politics, in the whole of a Madobi Local Government, I’m above everyone. This boy has crossed the boundary, for this reasons I have to deal with to serve as deterrent to others.
“I have the wherewithal to fight for my rights and with this, I’m setting a precedent for others to follow in fighting for their rights.”
The students union officials pleaded with the lawmaker to forgive Mr Tijani because of his little daughter and the fact that he was writing his exams for which reason his detention may affect his educational career.
But the adamant lawmaker only responded to the plea with a question: “What about those that died and left behind ten children? This are not concrete reasons that would made me consider your appeal, look for other reasons,” he said.
“Big personalities have called me on this matter, including the deputy governor, my party chairman, after they went to Inda Ranka (a popular programme of Freedom Radio in Kano, being anchored by Nasiru Zango) and aired the matter. But they never knew that they were prolonging Mr Tijjani’s stay in prison by doing that.
” Because of this case, I met with the chief judge of Kano State, we talked about it and after listening to me he ordered that the judge handling the case should keep remanding the student in jail,” the lawmaker said.
However, the spokesperson of the state’s Ministry of Justice, Baba Jibo-Ibrahim, said the chief judge did not deal with magistrate judges.
He said the judge does not interfere in matters before judges.
Mr Jibo-Ibrahim said the magistrate courts are overseen by the Chief Registrar and not the chief judge.
The SUG officials left without convincing the lawmaker as Mr Tijani has since remained in jail.
Lawmaker confirms leaked tape
When contacted on Thursday, Mr Isma’il confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the SUG officials met and pleaded with him to pardon Mr Tijjani.
He, however, said he rejected their pleas because of the gravity of the offence he said Mr Tijani committed against him and his parents.
On his claim on tape about the state’s chief judge’s role in the detention, Mr Isma’il said, “I don’t even know the chief judge in person. What I said is that even the chief judge would not support the student, assuming that the case was brought before him. Whatever the leaked audio contained, it might be doctored because I cannot give directives to the Chief Judge, I am only a lawmaker.”
He added that Mr Tijani accused me of being uneducated. “However, I am an elected official in my constituency, a feat that may be difficult for a professor to achieve. But a stark illiterate like myself have achieved that.
The lawmaker added: “I will not be moved by what people are saying about this issue, I’m only fighting for my rights using the constituted authorities.
“I am a kind of politician that if the whole members of my constituency in Madobi will abuse me and disrespect my father, I will invite the police to arrest them and charge them to court for prosecution. I can do that even tomorrow, I have no regrets,” the lawmaker said.