A Kaduna Magistrate’s Court has dismissed a suit filed by the police against a journalist, Midat Joseph.
Mr. Joseph, the Kaduna State Bureau Chief of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, was arrested on April 19 by officers of the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigation Department over a comment he made in a group conversation on Whatsapp.
He was subsequently detained at the Metropolitan Police Station, Panteka in Kaduna before being transferred to the state Police Command Headquarters where he was held overnight until he was charged to court the following day.
According to the police’ First Information Report, Mr. Joseph and a second person, Yayock Eusebiuf, were charged for criminal conspiracy, inciting disturbance and injurious falsehood.
But when the matter came up for hearing on Monday with the prosecution failing to appear in court for the second time, the Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Yusuf, struck out the case for lack of diligent prosecution.
The judge’s decision followed an application by the counsel to the defendant, James Kanyip and Maxwell Kyom, that the matter be struck out as a result of non-appearance of the prosecution.
The defence counsel, who relied on section 165 of the criminal procedure law of Kaduna State, also asked for an order restraining the police or their agent from again arresting Mr. Joseph on the same matter.
The judge, however, declined to grant the restraining order. But he discharged and acquitted Mr. Joseph and the other accused person of the offence for which they were arraigned before the court.
Reacting to the judgment, a tearful Mr. Joseph expressed gratitude to God, the Southern Kaduna team of lawyers, the management and staff of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, his colleagues and civic right organizations for their support during the trial.
He also expressed confidence in the judiciary, stating that “the judiciary is indeed the last hope of the common man. The lies against me have been buried and may the name of the Lord be praised.”