Journalist detained for 65 days without trial in Kaduna

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A journalist, representing an online foreign publication in Kaduna State, Northwest, Nigeria, Luka Biniyat, is being thrown into custody in the Kaduna Custodial Centre in the past 65 days without trial. The Kaduna Magistrate Court sitting in Barnawa which upheld the detention of the journalist after his arrest by the police, declined jurisdiction on the application for bail by his counsels.

The police arrested Luka Biniyat, a freelance journalist with an American-based newspaper, “Epoch Time”, over allegation of injurious statement of defamation against the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.  The Kaduna Magistrate Court sitting in Barnawa, approved his detention at the Correctional Centre.

Luka Biniyat reported that “the Kaduna State Government is using Samuel Aruwan, a Christian, to cover up genocide in Christian Southern Kaduna, citing Senator Danjuma la’ah, representing Kaduna South, as his source.

Counsel to the Commissioner, Aruwan, wrote to Senator Danjuma la’ah to confirm if he was the source of the report, but Counsel to the Senator, who handled the correspondence, in his reply, denied that his client granted Biniyat audience. Unfortunately, Luka Biniyat has been unable to provide evidence of any interview with the senator.

It was gathered that Luka Biniyat has spent over two months in detention, being arraigned at a Kaduna Magistrate Court in Barnawa on November 4, 2021, after his arrest by the police.

After the Magistrate Court declined jurisdiction to grant the journalist bail, Luka Biniyat lawyers approached the Federal High Court, Kaduna for bail. However, no date has been fixed for hearing of the bail application.

It was recalled that Luka Biniyat was standing trial in 2017 for libel, after he wrote a story that five students of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, were killed on transit; he was then, reporting for the Vanguard newspaper at that time. He was later sacked by Vanguard newspaper after the publication and his inability to provide proof of the source of his story. The Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) later appointed Luka Biniyat as the spokesperson of the Union.