Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has alleged that the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufa’i is stifling media freedom in the state because he is a “Fulani by ethnicity and a Muslim from Kaduna North Fulani descend.”
The body made the claim while berating the Governor for instituting a legal action against a former Vanguard correspondent in the state, Luka Biniyat, for allegedly reporting the armed Fulani invasion of a part of Kaduna state and the killing of a number of people in the largely Christian dominated Southern Kaduna.
HURIWA said it was inexplicable that the judiciary in Kaduna state has now become a stumbling block to fundamental human rights.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and its National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA faulted the unattainable bail conditions slammed on Biniyat in a matter it said was bailable.
HURIWA also recalled that el-Rufa’i, who was earlier quoted as telling the media that his administration paid off killer Fulani herdsmen to end their attacks in Southern Kaduna, has also threatened to deal with any media worker who takes undue interest in reporting about the Southern Kaduna genocide which has claimed over 2,000 persons.
The Rights group has therefore asked the Kaduna state High Court to vary the conditions for granting bail to Biniyat so he can attend to his failing health. HURIWA also asked el-Rufa’i to end the siege against the media by withdrawing his litigation against Biniyat.
“We suspect that the Kaduna state governor is working in cohort with the Kaduna State Judiciary given that state judiciary in most states are not completely independent financially from the apron strings of the almighty state governors who are the chief executives of the states.
“In the last two years, nearly five Nigerians reporters and social media commentators have had brushes with the Kaduna state governor following their reports and opinions about the prolonged Southern Kaduna massacre by armed Fulani herdsmen.”
A Kaduna High Court had on July 20, 2017 granted Biniyat bail. The court directed his remand in prison if he failed to meet the conditions. The Presiding Judge, Alhaji Bashir Sukola, granted the application against him in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in the like sum and a bank bond in same amount, with deposition of the sureties’ international passport.