WIKKI Times publisher Haruna Mohammed, who is on trial over an investigative report by the newspaper, was on Wednesday granted bail by a Bauchi magistrate court.
Haruna and Idris Kamal, a reporter with the newspaper, were arrested on June 27 over a report that detailed how Hussaini Musa Gwaba, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bauchi Local Government Area of Bauchi State, received a series of threats before he suddenly died.
The presiding magistrate, Babe Sekoni Abdulfatah, granted the journalists bail following an application by their lawyer, Idris Gambo.
The ICIR had reported how the police arrested Mohammed and Kamal and detained them in a cell at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), where they were brutalised by other inmates.
Despite the presence of their lawyers, Mohammed and Kamal were detained for at least 10 hours before they were released.
Gambo confirmed to The ICIR on Wednesday that the two journalists pleaded not guilty to the charges raised against them.
According to him, the journalists were charged with criminal conspiracy, defamation of character and cyber stalking.
He explained that the court, through the verbal order from the state attorney general, struck out cyber stalking charge.
According to Gambo, the report did not disclose any case of cyber stalking.
He said, “It’s not only that cyber stalking was struck out, we informed the state attorney general and he sent an officer from his office who came and took over the case from the police.
“After taking over the case from the police, based on what is stated in the Nigerian Constitution the attorney general applied orally that the particular offense should be struck out.
“Because based on the content of the FR, there’s nothing to suggest cyber stalking. It’s a regular paper that writes a story in respect of a particular person and if someone is picking an offense, the person should file for defamation of character not cyber stalking.
“We are left with two charges – criminal conspiracy and defamation of character. The two journalists have pleaded not guilty and applied for bail”.
Gambo added, “We are optimistic and of course expecting the complainer to bring his witnesses. I believe by now he has lost confidence because he wanted to use the police to ensure that they were remanded in prison constantly. Since he didn’t get what he is looking for, I believe he’s not going to take the court even seriously. Because it’s like he’s not going to get what he wants.”
The case was adjourned to July 25.