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Court denies bail to pharmacist arrested for criticising Buhari

A Federal High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has again refused to grant bail to Solomon Akuma, the pharmacist who criticised President Muhammadu Buhari on his Twitter page. 

Emmanuel, 29, was arrested on April 2, 2020, in Aba, Abia State for allegedly making a social media post against the President and his late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. 

Akuma had spent three months in detention without a court order or trial until he was eventually arraigned for charges bordering on terrorism, sedition, criminal intimidation of the President, and threat to the life of Buhari. 

He had been languishing at the Force Criminal Investigation Department before police lawyer, Victor Ogbudo filed an application seeking the permission of the court to transfer the young man from police custody to a correctional centre.

The prosecution counsel claimed that the defendant was flouting the order of police and could not cope with his behaviour in their custody any longer.

The defence counsel argued that his client was being punished for the alleged offence adding that even citizens who were accused of terrorism in the past were granted bail. 

Hence, he stated that there was no reason why Akuma should not be granted bail by the court.

He asked the court to exercise its discretion and admit him to bail. 

The presiding judge, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbajo, on Tuesday in her ruling dismissed the bail application filed by his lawyer, Emmanuel Ukaegbu and ordered Akuma to be transferred and remanded at the correctional centre. 

She added that the court had earlier ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter.

The Buhari government is notorious for clamping down on voices of dissent, shrinking the civic space, disobeying court orders and violating citizens’ fundamental rights.

Activists, lawyers and civil society groups have condemned Akuma’s continued detention just as they called for his release, saying he had not committed any crime to warrant such a punishment.

The matter was therefore adjourned to April 23, 2021, for continuation of trial.

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