The Bauchi State High Court has thrown out the no-case submission of a healthcare worker, Rhoda Jatau after her already harrowing 18-month incarceration.
Mrs. Jatau was arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in May 2022 after she shared a video that condemned the lynching of the Christian female student of Sokoto College, Deborah Samuel, accused of blasphemy by Islamic fanatics in Sokoto. Jatau is facing charges of inciting public disturbance, “exciting contempt of religious creed,” and cyberstalking.
The prosecution had since closed its case but the defence’s attempt to present its no-case argument was repeatedly stalled as the presiding judge defers court dates and the trial experienced a prolonged timeline. The submission was eventually made on October 16 at a hearing witnessed by Jatau’s husband, Ya’u Adamu, and other observers.
People’s Gazette reports that the court’s ruling on Monday against the no-case submission meant that the court affirms the legal standing of the authorities to argue the charges brought against her even though it is substantiated with scant evidence. The court had earlier admitted the interpretation of Jatau’s sharing of a social media video as offensive to extant laws and her lawyers would now work to prove that her action was justified rather than the initial stance that her action did not constitute the offenses alleged.
Her arrest and prolonged detention have raised international concerns, with the United Nations and organisations such as Christian Solidarity International expressing worry. They contend that Jatau’s incarceration represents an infringement on her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, religion, or belief.
Of concern is the repeated denial of bail to Jatau. The United Nations and CSI underscore that the denial of bail not only restricts her freedom but also raises questions about the fairness and proportionality of the legal measures taken against her.