The Kaduna State Government has asked the police to investigate a former Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Odinkalu for allegedly inciting the public against the state.
The state, through its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Umma Hakima, had on April 4 petitioned the Inspector General of Police, asking for an investigation into some charges brought against Odinkalu by the Kaduna State Government.
Already, the state has secretly obtained an order from a magistrate court in Kaduna. The proceeding leading to the granting of the order was not served on Odinkalu.
The order, which asked the police to investigate Odinkalu for allegedly inciting the public against the state government, was attached to the petition sent to the IGP.
Acting on the petition, the police last week invited Odinkalu for questioning in Abuja.
The petition bordered on statements purportedly made by Odinkalu during an interview with a television station early in the year in which he questioned claims made by Kaduna State governor Nasir el Rufai that 66 persons were killed in the Kajuru crisis in the state.
It was learnt that the state government had applied, through an exparte application, to a Magistrate Court presided over by Hon Ibrahim Musa, for an order asking the police to investigate the charges brought against the human rights activist.
Specifically, the underlying allegation contained in the ex-parte application dated March 28 is that in a television interview on 16 February, Odinkalu said, “I keep coming back to this Kajuru story because we must never allow that story to get away. 66 Nigerians killed; that’s 66 too many.
“If anybody claims that 66 people were killed in Kajuru this week, including the Governor of Kaduna State, let us go and verify. I’m not willing to allow that story to go away. It is not true.”
According to the application by the state government, reinforced in its petition to the IGP, by making this statement Odinkalu committed the following offences:
“Furnishing false information punishable under s. 104 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kaduna State 2017; injurious falsehood, punishable under s. 373 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kaduna State 2017; public nuisance, punishable under s. 150 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kaduna State 2017; and inciting disturbance, punishable under s. 77 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kaduna State 2017.
Confirming the invitation by the police, Odinkalu said that he arrived at the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja around 3.30pm last Monday. He said he was asked to write a statement based on the allegation and that he denied all of them.
“I was asked to make a statement on the stationery of the Police under caution. I did. My statement essentially affirmed my name, occupation and identity. I also affirmed the words stated above as mine but denied clearly that I had any intention to or was indeed capable of or had committed any of the offences alleged.
“In particular, I did say that in the circumstances of the facts, the conduct of the Governor of Kaduna State appeared to have been designed to preclude the Nigeria Police Force from doing its lawful duties of investigating or verifying his allegations.”
He said he was not informed of the case against him at the Magistrate Court until the police invited him for questioning although the Magistrate, from the document he was shown, made the order since March 22.
Odinkalu was granted bail on self-recognizance and could be invited on the matter again. He commended the police for the opportunity afforded him to state his own side of the story.