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Deji Adeyanju speaks from prison, ‘I’m in good spirit’

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Incarcerated political activist, Deji Adeyanju has assured Nigerians that he ‘is in good spirit’

This was confirmed by his friend, Theophilus Agada who was in Kano Central Prison on Christmas Day.

His message to Nigerians is that he is in good in spirit,” Agada said on Tuesday night. “Although he looks really emaciated, in all he is doing fine.”

I met him playing football with the inmates,” he added.

According to a report by Premium Times, Agada arrived at the prison at about 2:00 p.m., and spent some time with the activist before leaving.

Recall that Adeyanju has been in prison since November 28 when the police first arrested him as he led a protest to demand police neutrality ahead of the general elections in February.

President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a reelection, and Adeyanju and other members of his Concerned Nigerians group said the police and other security agencies have become increasingly partisan in recent months and may ultimately work to ensure the president returns to office.

The police denied all allegations of bias, but did not stop there. They arrested Adeyanju during the protest outside police headquarters in Abuja, alongside two others.

The two others were later released following a bail granted by a magistrate. The magistrate also extended bail to Adeyanju, and the activist was briefly set free on December 3.

As he was emerging from the federal prison in Keffi, when he was yet again picked up by the police. The police said a petition from the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had been pending against the activist.

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He was arraigned on December 4, but was not granted bail until December 6.

After eight days, Adeyanju left police custody on December 6, and celebrated his 39th birthday at a dinner on December 10 in Abuja.

On December 13, Agada and other associates of Adeyanju said, the police called him to come around for the last of his three mobiles telephones that were seized from him when he was initially arrested on November 28.

He obliged, only to be detained upon arrival. The police held him in Abuja for five days without trial, over allegations that he had an unresolved homicide case from the 2000s.

Court documents obtained however showed Adeyanju was tried for murder charges by Kano State government between 2005 and 2009, but he was discharged and acquitted by the Kano State High Court which found that the activist was not in Kano when the murder occurred in January 2005.

Adeyanju’s associates said the police asked them to provide evidence that the activist was discharged and acquitted, but refused to release him even after this was provide.

Disclosure by Festus Keyamo, a rights activist who now heads communications strategy for Mr Buhari’s reelection campaign, that he was Mr Adeyanju’s defence attorney in the case and his client was discharged and acquitted also did little to persuade the police to free the activist.

The police moved Adeyanju to Kano on December 18, five days after holding him in Abuja without trial.

He was arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kano on December 21, but the court remanded him in prison until February 2019 despite pleading a lack of jurisdiction to hear the case.

The magistrate’s decision came as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja was ordering the immediate release of Mr Adeyanju in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by his associates.

The police have declined to recognise the decision of the superior court, indicating that Adeyanju might be in custody for as long as the lower court in Kano had decided.

The police have come under heavy criticism for their continued incarceration of Adeyanju, with many describing it as the latest of a string of antidemocratic tendencies the force had displayed under the current administration.

The Nigerian Senate and Amnesty International are amongst some of the institutions that have demanded Adeyanju’s release, appealing to Mr Buhari to weigh in on the matter which could stand as a test of his administration’s tolerance towards civil liberties, especially free speech.

A former political operative of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Adeyanju resigned from partisan politics in early 2017, and had led several protests for freedom, including for the Shiite members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

He has been detained several times during protests by the police, but he was often released, until the latest rash of detentions.

His message from prison was tailored around resilience, Mr Agada said.

He wants Nigerians to be resilient until this despotic regime is voted out of power next February,” Agada said. “In a nutshell, Deji is doing okay in prison and hopeful that freedom would come not only for him for Nigerians as a collective.”

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