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Muaz Magaji: Lawyer faults Magistrate for denying bail in ‘bailable offence’

Muaz Magaji: Lawyer faults Magistrate for denying bail in ‘bailable offence’

Any Magistrate or Judge who is in the habit of refusing bail in offences that are ordinarily bailable needs to re-assess himself.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Nataniel Salifu Olijeh, told NigerianSketch in a telephone chat on Tuesday that it is wrong and “even immoral” for judges to deny a defendant his fundamental human right without just cause.

He said “it is a gross misunderstanding of the law for a judge to think bail is simply discretionary. A judge doesn’t have right to deny bail unless the offence is not ordinarily bailable. Bail is a right, and you don’t deny it except with cogent reason. In addition, the condition of bail should be light.

“I really think there is something really wrong with some of our Magistrates. I also want to advice that our courts should be conscious of the tricks of our politicians who are turning them into instruments to silence their political opponents.

“I am not saying that the defendant should not be prosecuted and I am not saying that he may not be found guilty. I am saying he is presumed innocent at this stage, and it is the court, more than anyone that should preserve his presumption of innocence.

“But when the court is quick to deny bail where the offence is bailable, there is the need to have a closer look at that Magistrate’s mindset. We are really in serious mess when our courts become ready tools of oppression because, to me, that court has just suppressed a person’s right for no just cause. It is sad. It is sad,” he said.

Muaz Magaji, a critic, was arraigned before Senior Magistrate, Aminu Gabari in Kano on Monday on four-count charge bordering on criminal defamation against Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and his counsel, Ghazali Datti Ahmed, applied for his bail. Prosecution counsel, Wada Ahmed Wada, opposed the bail application, and the Magistrate denied the defendant’s bail application and ordered the he be remanded in the state correctional centre till February 3, 2022 when the case will resume for hearing.

Magaji was arrested in Abuja on Thursday, flown to Kano and brought to court on Friday but he could not be arraigned on Friday because he was not in good shape.

The criminal charge against him was hinged on an image he allegedly posted on Facebook which the nominal complainer claimed was capable of portraying Ganduje as an immoral and ungodly man.


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