As the strike against the planned disengagement of workers by the Kaduna State government continued on Tuesday, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has responded to one of his critics on social media, Chidi Odinkalu, describing him as a cursed man.
Commenting on Tuesday, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and lawyer, Mr Odinkalu, blamed the strike on the governor’s alleged ineptitude.
“In Kaduna State today:
Public schools are closed
Filling stations (for petrol) are shut
Public hospitals closed
Govt offices shut
There is no electricity, no water
Kaduna State University has sent its students home
@elrufai is the man with the #rightsize,” Mr Odinkalu posted on Twitter, accompanied by pictures of protesters.
But in his response, Mr El-Rufai accused Mr Odinkalu of spreading false information, saying he is accursed.
“KADUNA UPDATE: @ChidiOdinkalu – chartered & certified fake news merchant, false professor & wanted for incitement, injurious falsehood, etc by Kaduna High Court is lying again: (1) all schools (2) most filling stations & (3) public hospitals operating by noon. You are cursed!” the governor wrote.
Both men had been at loggerheads over Mr Odinkalu’s criticism of the governor.
In March 2019, the Kaduna State government filed the case of injurious falsehood and incitement against Mr Odinkalu following an interview with Channels Television on February 16, 2019.
In the interview, Mr Odinkalu called out Mr El-Rufai over his comment on the alleged killing of 66 people in Kajuru, Kaduna State.
He disputed Mr El-Rufai’s accounts and criticised him for publicly stating what he said was capable of inciting violent reactions close to the general elections.
“I spent all of last night trying to verify from all the sources in Kajuru and nobody can verify or substantiate that there has been a killing of 66 people (as claimed by the governor) in Kajuru over the past few days.
“You cannot on the eve of a very difficult election, as a state governor, standing beside your publicist, talking about the killing of 66 people from a particular ethnic group (Fulanis) with a celebratory air.
“This is beyond irresponsible, and I believe people from all political divides must call out the Kaduna State governor,” Mr Odinkalu had said.
This attracted a direct criminal complaint filed against the ex-NHRC boss by the state government which accused him of falsehood and incitement.
Last year, the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice said the cases were still pending before the Chief Magistrate Court, High Court and Federal High Court, Kaduna.
“The facts are that on the 16th February 2019 while on Channels TV, he made serious allegations against the Governor of Kaduna State which were capable of inciting disturbance and the breakdown of law and order in the State.
“Consequently, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice filed an application before the Chief Magistrate Court No.1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State with case No. KMD/27DC/2019 for the issuance of criminal summons against Chidi Odinkalu for committing the offences of inciting disturbance, injurious falsehood, public nuisance and furnishing false information punishable under sections 77, 373, 104 and 150 respectively of the Penal Code Law of Kaduna State, 2017.
“The DPP applied for an order of the court for the police to investigate the allegations against Mr Odinkalu and report the outcome of the investigations to the court, an application that was granted by the court which ordered the police to investigate the case.
“In compliance with the order of the Chief Magistrate Court, the police commenced investigation into the case and invited him for questioning. He refused to honour the invitation and instead filed a notice of preliminary objection before the Chief Magistrate Court No.1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court. The State Government responded to the notice of preliminary objection by filing a counter-affidavit and the court overruled his application and assumed jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.
“Instead of appealing the ruling of the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State, he filed an application for the enforcement of his fundamental rights before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1112/2019.
“The trial Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja suo motu raised the issue of jurisdiction in the case and questioned why Mr Odinkalu filed the application in Abuja and not Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court. The trial Judge transferred the case to the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court in a new suit No. FHC/KD/CS/97/2019.
“Mr Odinkalu again filed another action before the High Court No. 12 of Kaduna State with suit No. KDH/KAD/1100/2019 for judicial review, praying for the Court to quash the trial before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State. The case is still pending before High Court No. 12.
“The action he filed before the High Court No.12 has stalled the trial before the Chief Magistrate Court No. 1 Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna State. The case pending before the Federal High Court, Kaduna, has been adjourned to 22nd October 2020 for Judgment. Meanwhile, the cases pending before the High Court No.12 and the Federal High Court, Kaduna have stalled the investigation by the police,” said Aisha Dikko, the State Commissioner for Justice.
But Mr Odinkalu, on October 22, lost the fundamental human rights case he filed against the Kaduna State Government.
Peter Malong of the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court dismissed the case and awarded costs against Mr Odinkalu.
In the ruling, the judge, Mr Malong, upheld the state government’s argument that Mr Odinkalu’s affidavit was incompetent because it was not personally deposed by him.
On Monday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) embarked on a five-day warning strike over the proposed sack of civil servants by the El-Rufai-led government.
Workers from different parastatals and cadres of the civil service joined the protest, withdrawing their services for the second day.
As a result, the airport, public schools, government offices are shut, in addition to the total blackout across the state.
But the state has repeatedly vowed that it was not going to accede to the request of the labour unions or back down from the proposed rightsizing.
“NLC is aware that inflicting pains on citizens by locking hospitals and shutting down electricity will not change the decision of Kaduna State government to rightsize and will not change our intention to use the Trade Union Act which prohibits strike by extension service workers,” the state’s Head of Service, Bara’atu Mohammed, said on Monday evening.
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