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Freedom of Expression: Saraki sacks teacher, seek to jail him

*They were forced under public protest to withdraw the charges

By Ayo Fasanmi, Ilorin

Dr Bukola Saraki is in contention with a primary school teach in his state, Kwara over an alleged Facebook comment. The Senate President who may have ordered the persecution of the teacher, Biodun Baba, was dragged to court. About 20 lawyers appeared at the Ilorin Senior Magistrates Court in support of a  37-year-old primary school teacher,  charged with alleged defamation.

“The 20 lawyers who appeared for the defendant did it pro bono. They rose to defend the defenceless without compensation. As a primary school teacher, there is no way he can afford the services of one lawyer lest 20,” said Ayobami Ogundele, a human rights activist who came to witness the matter from Lagos.

Biodun Baba...the primary school teacher Saraki is using all manners of persecution to contend with
Biodun Baba…the primary school teacher Saraki is using all manners of persecution to contend with

The teacher, Biodun Baba, a teacher at LGEA School, Olorunlana in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara, had  been reportedly sacked by the Kwara state government for the alleged offence. This is despite that he was not administratively tried. His sack was not for committing any known offence in the books.

He was alleged to have through his Facebook postings been inciting the public against Saraki and in one instance he called the Senate President a ‘bastard’. The case ignited public interest and drew many people and sympathisers of Baba to court Thursday.

The criminal charge was filed following a complaint to the Chambers of S. I. Solagberu and Co, an Ilorin-based legal firm by Alhaji Jimoh Adesina, Chairman, Kwara South Chapter of the APC

Adesina, accused Baba of printing or engraving matters on his Facebook wall known to be defamatory.

Solagberu, who filed the criminal charge on behalf of Adesina, accused Baba of inciting and disturbance of public peace and writing injurious falsehood posts on Facebook.

He also alleged that Baba’s postings were capable of causing disaffection against Saraki and disparaging him.

The offences, he said, were contrary to sections 113, 114, 393, 394 of the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria and section 883and 204 of the Criminal Code Act.

However, the matter took a twist on the morning when the prosecution was to begin. Counsel to the complainant, Sikiru Solagberu, said he had filed an application before the court seeking to withdraw the charge.

Barrister Sambo Muritala...lead Counsel for Biodun Baba
Barrister Sambo Muritala…lead Counsel for Biodun Baba

Solagberu read a letter he received on the 26th July, instructing him to withdraw the case against the accused.

The lawyer cited section 248 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 41, Laws of the Federation 2004 to support the application for withdrawal.

He said the instruction of the complainant to withdraw the case was as a result of intervention by well meaning Nigerians, including Ilorin Emirate Traditional Council, leaders of the various communities in the state as well as party loyalists.

Solagberu, urged the court to grant his application.

Responding, counsel to the accused, Mr Sambo Muritala, said his client would ordinarily not object to the complainant’s letter to withdraw.

Muritala, however, submitted that in a situation of ‘non-compoundable’ offence, it is safer for the complainant’s counsel to make proper application before the court and support it with an affidavit.

According to the counsel, coming by way of proper application and affidavit will demonstrate the wish of the complainant to withdraw the charges saying the application was an abuse of court process.

Replying to the accused counsel’s submission, Solagberu argued his application was not an abuse of the court’s process adding that since the matter was not a civil action there was no need of deposing to an affidavit.

“There is nothing in the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act and Criminal Procedure Code that enjoins a complainant to depose to an affidavit before a case is withdrawn from the court,” he added.

Solagberu added that the complainant’s letter before the court has satisfied the conditions for withdrawal of cases of this nature.

“If a party says he wants to withdraw in a criminal case, the court should use its instrumentality to assist the parties to withdraw.

The Magistrate, Ahmed Dasuki, later adjourned the matter to 3rd August for ruling on the application.

Biodun Baba never called Saraki Bastard

Kayode Oyin-Zubair…Biodun Baba never called Saraki a bastard

In an interview with www.gongnew.net Mr. Kayode Oyin-Zubair was very emphatic, Biodun Baba never called Saraki a bastard. We read with great surprise the falsehood being circulated in the social media where the assistant secretary of our party – APC in Gambari 2 of Ilorin East, Mr. Biodun Baba, was alleged to have called Mr. Bukola Saraki bastard. It’s a satanic lie! These are the facts of the issue.

His offences: Shortly after the acquittal (which is being challenged at the Court of Appeal) given to Mr. Bukola Saraki at Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, Baba wrote: if a man acquits you what about God?

The other material he shared was the one going viral at that time where it was purported that the presidency had reacted to Saraki’s take over of the villa. Baba didn’t author the material. He who alleges, should prove!

Since Baba emerged as the assistant secretary of the party in his ward some elements have never held back their disapproval including Mr. Tunji Buhari.

Biodun Baba had been made to go through different levels of persecution for holding to his root as a former member of ACN and his disloyalty to Mr. Saraki.

After several persecutions from his ward and LGA which Alhaji Seriki, a driver had tried to bring under control, the ward chairman and Mr. Tunji Buhari succeeded in dragging the young man before a panel at the party secretariat on Friday 13th July 2017.

At the state secretariat, the party chairman, Hon. Ishola Balogun Fulani, pleaded that the matter be brought down and allow the party to run without hitches but the trio of Tunji Buhari, Jimoh Adesina and Oniwa would never agreed.

Oniwa threatened to terminate his job as a school teacher at a Primary School in Olohunlana. He had done that for real. Adesina aka Ojingo threatened using certain powers against the harmless young and dutiful Kwaran.

“Tunji Buhari went out of his way by mentioning my name more than 15 minutes that I abused Mr. Saraki on the facebook on that fateful Friday. Please check my timeline to verify his false claims. I eventually met him along Irewolede on that day at a point where cars are cleaned. I threw the questions at him, “Pls is it true I attacked the SP on facebook today? “. He retorted, who told you? I mentioned my source. Tunji Buhari said, “He is a stupid man”.

Since he denied it, I allowed the sleeping dog to lie but I caused a 3-page (SMS) rebuttal to the state party chairman after he didn’t answer my calls.

On the same day, Biodun Baba was arrested by DSS operatives at the instance of Mr. Tunji Buhari and made to sign undertaking that his fb page will not be used against personality serving in government again but can criticize constructively.

We thought the end has come when he was invited by the police yesterday and handed the summons initiated by APC senatorial chairman in Kwara Central prepared by another party member, Sikiru Solagberu Esq and billed to appear at the Magistrate Court 9 Ilorin tomorrow, Thursday.

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