4 December 2018

Nigeria: Activist Deji Adeyanju Arraigned Again, Remanded in Prison

The Wuse Zone 2 Chief Magistrate's Court in Abuja on Tuesday remanded Deji Adeyanju in prison, moments after the political activist was arraigned on a petition filed by Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai.

Magistrate Idayat Akanni said Mr Adeyanju should be returned to Keffi Prison, about 40 minutes drive from Abuja, until November 6 when his application for bail would be heard.

The police arraigned Mr Adeyanju on Mr Buratai's grievances, which included cyberstalking, defamation and incitement. Details of how the top military chief was affected by the allegations were not immediately learnt when the matter was first heard at about 4:38 p.m. on Tuesday.

Nigerian law enforcement authorities have regularly deployed cyberstalking, drawn from Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act (2015), against social commentators and journalists, with civil liberties advocates fearing it had morphed into a repressive tool against dissent.

First arrested on November 28 for leading a protest against partisan conduct of security chiefs, Mr Adeyanju will be spending his seventh night in custody after being whisked away to the federal prisons in Keffi on Ms Akanni's order late Tuesday afternoon.

The police urgently arraigned Mr Adeyanju after arresting him on November 8 on allegations raging from public disturbance to criminal defamation. Police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood said Mr Adeyanju's activities on social media, which portrayed the institution and its leaders in bad light, have been documented and would be used as exhibit in his trial.

Mr Adeyanju was granted bail after the arraignment last Wednesday, but he was unable to meet the conditions until December 3.

After being freed from Keffi Prison upon posting his bail against the police charges on Monday night, the political activist was immediately rearrested on the spot by a separate police team which his associates said had laid siege to the prison in anticipation of his release.

Mr Adeyanju, a former political operative of the Peoples Democratic Party, had led several protests against public institutions and persons since resigning as social media director of the opposition party in early 2017.

He participated in the protests to demand justice for the victims of Nigerian Army massacre of Shiites in Zaria in 2015, and subsequent killing of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by security agencies. He has equally led campaigns for an improved welfare for Nigerian security forces, and called on the Nigerian government to reduce corruption in security earmarks.

He has been repeatedly detained, but the duration was usually brief, aided largely by the public support he enjoys on social media where public backlash was usually too much for the police to bear.

Although he was not so lucky with his latest arrest, Mr Adeyanju's associates said he would not be deterred by his ongoing tribulations.

"Deji Adeyanju understands that resolute minds who believe that Nigeria must be a free nation are with him,"Ariyo-Dare Atoye, a close associate of the political activist, said.

Mr Atoye, who was amongst those present at the hearing to provide moral support for Mr Adeyanju, said both Mr Buratai and Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris should not be under any illusions that Mr Adeyanju would back down on his activism after regaining his freedom.

"Deji Adeyanju would continue to agitate for the independence and fairness of security agencies," Mr Ayoye said. "And people like us would continue to stand by him no matter what."

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