The Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai has said the award of N40 million in damages against him and the Nigerian police by a federal high court in Abuja in favour of Audu Maikori would not stop the “criminal trial” of the Chocolate City Group boss.
The governor said the judgement would be appealed, insisting that neither him nor the Nigerian police had erred in the arrest and detention of the music entrepreneur.
“The state government can file complaints, but it is the business of the police to make arrests following the normal procedures,” said the spokesperson for El-Rufai, Samuel Aruwan.
“Our lawyers will study the judgement and take the appropriate steps. We will appeal up to the Supreme Court if necessary.”
In his ruling on Friday in the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Maikori on May 5, 2017, Justice John Tsoho said the rights of the Chocolate City Group’s boss had been violated.
“The arrest was improper, irregular and wrongful. By necessary implication, the arrest was unlawful despite being released after 24 hours,” he said.
The music mogul and lawyer was arrested on February 17, by policemen attached to the inspector-general’s monitoring and intelligence team, over ‘inciting comments’ he made on social media on Southern Kaduna killings.
In a series of tweets on January 23, he alleged that five students of Kaduna State College of Education, Gidan Waya, Kafanchan, were murdered by Fulani herdsmen.
“My driver’s younger brother and five others students of College of Education, Gidan Waya, were ambushed and killed by herdsmen yesterday #SouthernKaduna,” he said in one of the tweets.
Audu, El-Rufai said at the Social Media Week 2017 on March 2, was informed about the untrue nature of his posts but still doubled down on them.
“He posted fake pictures of Boko Haram attacks, the Rwandan genocide, as Southern Kaduna killings. It is totally irresponsible to do that.”
Maikori later apologised for the wrong information contained in his tweets, claiming that he was misled by his driver, who himself was an indigene of Southern Kaduna.
While insisting that he had no personal grouse against Audu, the governor noted that prosecuting him would serve as a deterrent to people who spread untrue information on social media and would help rein in the scourge of fake news.
He said, “It is not personal. I have nothing against him. In fact, he has worked with the state government in the past. But I’m not going to sit as the governor of Kaduna state and allow anyone to post or tweet anything that leads to loss of lives without consequences.”
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