Danfulani vs. KDSG: Defence Counsel Quits In Protest, Principal Witness Remanded In Custody

The Oasis Reporters

February 20, 2018

 

John Danfulani.
By: Luka Binniyat.

 

KADUNA – Another Defense Lawyer for Dr. John Danfulani, who is standing trial at a Kaduna High Court for “malicious falsehood,” quit from the case in protest over what he described as his fear that his client may not get justice from the Presiding Judge, Justice Bilkisu Mohammed of Kaduna High Court 12, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna.

 

On the 5th of February Barrister Yakubu I. Umaru had also said he feared that his client may not get justice from the court based on the conduct of the Judge and removed himself from the case.
It would be recalled that Dr. John Danfulani was arrested on the 26th January, 2016 and arraigned before Chief Magistrate Court 1 Kaduna, Presided over by Mallam Awallu Musa in Case No. KDH/KAD/102c/2016, charged with breaching sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code. He was accused of making an insulting post on his facebook wall against Northerners.

 

After series of appearances, he was discharged on the 9th of August, 2016, but re-arrested on the 26th October 2016 and arraigned at the Kaduna High Court 12, and subsequently spent 13 days in Kaduna Central Prisons as Justice Bilkisu Mohammed had to travel for a seminar during the duration.

 

Dr. John Danfulani, a human rights activist and critic of the policies of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, resigned his job as lecturer at the Kaduna State University (KASU), Department of Political Studies in 2016 due to his suspension without due process for writing against Governor El-Rufai, the Visitor to KASU.
At the court session yesterday there was tensed argument between Danfulani’s counsel, Barr. Kanyip and the State’s Prosecuting Lawyer, Barr. Abdullahi Isiaka.
The cause of contention was over the propriety of the introduction of a certificate to tender some e-documents in evidence by Mukhtar Garba Maigamo, the 2nd Principal Prosecuting Witness (PW2).

 

While Barr. Kanyip argued that PW2 could not introduce the said document because it had earlier been tendered by another witness, Barr. Isiaka argued in favour of it.
The presiding judge then stood down the session and returned to her chambers around 12:30pm to study the debate of the two counsels and come up with a ruling.

 

In the interim, Maigamo, dressed in well starched brown brocade and a Hausa hand sewn cap to fit, sprang out of the court room boisterously with some folks in his company. He stood with them outside the courtroom and his voice could be heard far away.
His action angered a presiding Magistrate holding court nearby. The Magistrate, (name withheld) ordered his police orderly and a plainclothes policeman to arrest and detain Maigamo at the Court cell for disturbing the proceedings of his Court.

 

Maigamo and his lawyers attempted to ward off the arrest but he was subsequently put into the cell and locked up. After several pleas to the Magistrate, he was released about 30 minutes later.
“This is a set up,” he said after his release, “because when I was being put in the cell, some people were taking my snapshots of me,” he said.

 

Three hours later, Justice Mohammed returned to the court and ruled that the e-certified document could be tendered and accepted same as Exhibit.
She then motioned on the prosecuting Lawyer to go ahead and cross examine Maigamo, who went on to say that he was a Northerner and felt “bad” by the Facebook post of John Danfulani.
“What is the veracity of John Danfulani’s post”?
Isiaka asked him.
At this state, Kanyip objected, saying it would amount to seeking the personal opinion of Maigamo, not facts from him, noting that Maigamo was ‘a witness of fact’, not ‘a witness of opinion.’ He then asked that the question be overruled.
In the end, the judge ruled in favour of the Prosecuting lawyer.

 

Maigamo went on to say that the alleged facebook post by John Danfulani was full of lies.
“I am a northerner. We don’t have the largest number of VVH patients, beggars and Almajiris in Nigeria,” he posited.
In cross examining him, Kanyip asked Maigamo what he does for a living.
“I am a student”, said Maigamo.
“Are you engaged with the Kaduna State Government in any capacity,” Kanyip asked the witness.
“Yes”, he said.
“What position are you now occupying?”
“Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Affairs,” Maigamo answered.
“You are working with Kaduna State Government. Yes or No?”
Maigamo hesitated as Kanyip insisted on a direct answer.

 

The Judge over ruled Kanyip and directed that PW2 should explain himself, having said he was a student in the beginning.
At this juncture Kanyip asked for permission to confer with the Defendant in the witness box. Shortly after, he returned and announced to the Judge: “My Lord, I cannot continue with this case, because I fear that my client cannot get fairness and justice in this court, so I cannot continue with the matter,” he said.

 

In response, the prosecuting lawyer said that Kanyip could not be compelled to continue the case against his wish. He said that the defendant was free to defend himself or seek for another counsel.
Asked, Danfulani said he would seek the services of another counsel.
The case was adjourned to 12th March, 2018.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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