Noah Ebije, Kaduna
After over 100 days in prison without trial, eight of the nine Adara elders detained early in the year over the bloody crisis in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have regained freedom.
A source who was with the nine elders at the magistrate’s court on Daura Road, Kaduna, on Friday, May 31, said eight were asked to go home by the court for lack of any evidence against them.
But one of them, Mr. Ulu Maitumbi, was not allowed to go home at the time of this report. A dane gun was allegedly found on him and would be prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms.
The Kajuru elders were arrested in connection with the alleged attack on communities in the local government area during the crisis.
Said the source: “Their release was through legal advice by the Director of Public Prosecution to the Deputy Commissioner of Police that no evidence was found against them after holding them for over 100 days.”
It was gathered that they were all held and charged for alleged culpable homicide because of an attack allegedly carried out on some Fulani hamlets during the crisis in Kajuru.
Feeling sad and happy over their release, the freed elders noted that Adara folks were going through the darkest days of their existence as a people. They wondered why they were hounded into detention for such a long period of time without trial.
In an appreciation letter by the elders to those who stood by them during the crisis, they noted: “We thank God Almighty for His protection and good health during our ordeal. Our profound gratitude also goes to true friends and well-wishers of Adara community and indeed true lovers of peace and justice who stood and are still standing by us in these darkest days of our living memory as a community.”
The letter signed by one of the freed elders, national president, Adara Development Association (ADA), Awemi Dio Maisamari, further said: “On our release, we are still gathering the gory details of the general physical, social, economic and spiritual turmoil and unquantifiable losses and sacrifices made by victims and supporters of our cause.
“These have made the inconveniences we suffered in prison to pale into insignificance. We shall make a formal statement in due course.
“We rejoice with our community members on the occasion of the unconditional release of seven of us from prison late on Friday, May 31, 2019, after more than three months of incarceration.
“One of us, Tanko Maisama, is released but subject to further police investigation. The ninth, Ulu Maitumbi, is still in prison custody awaiting arraignment for alleged possession of a local gun.”
The ADA leader also commended those that stood behind them during the detention, including the body of Christ, Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), and many others.
Interestingly, the elders were released a day after a group offered prayers for their freedom. The prayer was organised by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Nigeria office.
The prayers, held at the ECWA Gospel Church in Barnawa area of Kaduna metropolis, was led by Reverend Ezekiel Bulus and the secretary of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Sunday Ibrahim.
In separate prayer points on the release of the Adara elders, support for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kajuru and Adaraland as a whole, they prayed for the safe return of the elders and succour for those affected by the crisis.
However, speaking on behalf of the families of the elders, Alheri Bawa Magaji, daughter of one of the detained elders, thanked the organisers of the event, adding that God would perform his miracle by releasing their breadwinners soon.
She noted that the detention had strengthened the families, knowing full well that their parents were in detention “for a sin they did not commit.”
Speaking earlier, Matthew Braimoh, director of advocacy for CSW, organisers of the programme, said: “After looking at the issues behind the detention, we have decided to take it upon ourselves to work and campaign for their release.
“We are a worldwide organisation and we are in charge of the Nigerian office. We use the tool of advocacy and see how those concerned, who many times cannot speak for themselves, can be assisted to get justice.
“The gathering is for us to pray together and see that God will intervene and see to the release of the Adara leaders who are in detention.”
Also, while their fathers were in captivity, children of the nine Adara elders passionately called on the state government to release their fathers without further delay.
Representative of the children of the embattled elders, Bege Bawa Magaji, in a statement, said detention of their fathers was a violation of fundamental human rights.
The statement also noted that the detainees were advanced in age, with fragile health conditions and they deserved quick release from detention to attend to their health.
“Since February 16, 2019, our fathers have been in detention having been denied bail. Their continuous detention without bail or trial is a violation of their fundamental human rights.
“We are traumatised that Kaduna State government can quickly arraign our parents over the alleged killing of’ 66 or 130 Fulanis, an allegation that is still unproven, but cannot arraign those responsible for the killing of almost 200 Adara natives.
“Our fathers are lock ed up in prison with murderers and thieves and rapists even when they have outstandingly served this country in various capacities. They are retirees and advanced in age and manage different forms of life-threatening ailments, yet they are confined to situations that aggravate their fragile health. What have they done to deserve this? What have we done that the country should march on in the face of this broad daylight travesty?
“While our parents are being detained, our communities have been fields of the most heinous and mind-blowing murders. By day or at night, our communities are attacked again and again. We are being beaten and not allowed to cry. What have we done to be treated this way? Are we no longer citizens of Kaduna State and nationals of Nigeria?
“This is a cry to all men and women of conscience and the international community to help us mount pressure on all tiers of government to free our fathers. It is 80 days since our parents have been unjustly held in prison and arraigned before a magistrate court that has no jurisdiction to try the allegations levelled against them. They have been denied bail.
“We the children of the elders and leaders of Adara request that the rule of law should take precedence so that our aged parents, many of who have been away from our homes now for 80 days, can be released back to us.”