By MUHAMMAD GARBA
Our attention has been drawn to a malevolent write-up which appeared on Wednesday back page Column of Leadership newspaper of March 17, 2021 titled: “I stand with Barrister Sa’ida Bugaje” and authored by Hannatu Musawa, a lawyer by profession and women’s rights activist.
The piece, which in its totality, a misrepresentation of facts, is apparently in defense of what the author called ‘her dear friend and sister’, Sa’ida Sa’ad Bugaje, also a lawyer.
Bugaje has been dragged to court over alleged defamation of character of the person Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state and his family. She is also accused of spreading falsehood to incite the public against his administration.
We shouldn’t have worried ourselves to respond to the piece if at all the author has lived up to her professional callings. First of all, the matter is before a competent court of law, which discussion can amount to contempt of court and secondly, the writer is only trying to draw sympathy for ‘her dear friend’ by trying to make case in a way that may look factual to the good people of Kano state especially those that may have come through the piece which is only suitable for the trashcan as well as to set the record straight.
Apart from its conspicuous elements of allusions, the highly opinionated article shamelessly left footprints of underbelly motives that are contradictory to good conscience. While the triteness of her intention is laid plain, the writer made her position clear which portrays her as nursing an aversion against the government of Kano state by attributing to it disapproval in the subject under discussion.
Out of desperation and in show of solidarity with her ‘dear friend’ whom she claimed is “being ruthlessly and brutally harassed and persecuted by the authorities,” the author consciously refused to mention the allegation her friend levelled against the governor as if he (the governor and his family) as a person has no right to protect, forgetting that “her rights end where the rights of the governor begin.”
The complaints stemmed from a video clip by Bugaje that has become viral on the social media platforms, maligning Governor Ganduje and his family on alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 funds with intent to create mistrust in public over the handling of the pandemic and incite disturbance in the state.
The governor, who felt personally touched by her act intimated the Office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone I to investigate the matter and also his lawyers filed a case for legal redress at a Magistrate Court in Kano. The court issued a warrant for her arrest which she has so far evaded. Instead, she went to a High Court in Zaria, Kaduna state and got an ex parte order.
The prosecution, having got a vacating order from a Chief Magistrate Court I, Abuja, got a fresh warrant and went to her Abuja residence to invite her to come to Kano and tell her side of the story. It was while the team was in Abuja on that assignment that a High Court ordered for the maintenance of the status quo which the prosecution obliged.
Bugaje has the right to make comment on matters that affect public interest including, of course, public spending. But when it involves allegations or infringing on the rights of individuals, there has to be facts to defend it. If she really believes in what she says, she should have come forward to make her case.
While the prosecution and Ganduje’s team of lawyers are following due process in seeking redress in the court over the wild allegation levelled against him and his family, as a lawyer and activist, Bugaje is also in a better position to do same. Nobody is harassing her. If she is evading arrest, one will understand that she made the allegation without fully knowing its consequences.
As a legal practitioner and wife of a “renowned politician of esteemed pedigree and national treasure,” if similar allegation is levelled against her husband and his family would she be indifferent to this kind of situation?
We agree that she is very much aware of her rights, but that does not also give her the privilege to trample on other people’s right. Refusing to tell her readers the content of the allegedly aspersing audio clip indicates that the author is deliberately outwitting the fact of the matter, while at the same time trying to draw undue attention to her friend she claimed is being harassed.
It is unfortunate that in Nigeria differences in political beliefs or personal hatred are often expressed in false representation of facts. The writer, while trying to further justify the action of her ‘dear friend’ in order to whip up sentiments, also went on personal vendetta against the person of the governor.
It is up to Bugaje as a legal practitioner to respect the court order and make herself available so as to defend her assertion in the video clip in which she allegedly maligned Governor Ganduje. Only the court decides her innocence.
While we all have the right to criticize or express our personal opinion but with facts and without overstepping the bounds of the law, I believe the Ganduje administration welcomes fair and constructive criticism that will help in shaping and making Kano great.
Garba is the commissioner, information, Kano state