Fears over a perceived crackdown on free speech in Nigeria heightened at the weekend as a chief magistrate Court 1, Kaduna, denied bail to Dr John Danfulani even after the man had been detained by the police for over 24 hours.
According to prosecutors, Danfulani, a lecturer with the Kaduna State University (KASU) is being held for alleged inciting and hateful statements on the social media against the people of northern Nigeria, thereby, capable of causing breakdown of law and order in northern Nigeria and other parts of the country. The police prosecution said this was contrary to section 417 and 418 of the penal code of northern Nigeria.
The magistrate, Alhaji Awwal Musa while presiding over the case, said that the police was empowered to protect, investigate and carry out the duty assigned to them, hence the court cannot deny them their power.
He argued that the police had not finished their investigation yet, and as such, Dr Danfulani be remanded in police custody. He also said that further investigation must be concluded in the matter latest by Monday, 1st February, 2016.
Gamaliel Kore, leading other six defending counsels, had sought bail for the accused person, saying that the case was bailable and that as a responsible lecturer, he would not jump bail.
He argued that the accused was invited by the police which he voluntarily honoured even when he was away in foreign country, stressing that if granted bail, he will always be available to stand trial.
The prosecuting officer had prayed that the court should not grant the accused person bail but that he should be remanded in police custody for three weeks to allow full investigation into the matter without any interference.
Danfulani, who was detained over an alleged Facebook comment is said to be a known critic of the government of Mallam Nasir El Rufai.