Court releases Katsina Whistleblower, Mahdi Shehu on bail
The Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division (presided over by Hon. Justice Taiwo O. Talwo) has today 1st March, 2021 ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioner of Police (COP), FCT-Abuja to immediately release Alhaji Muhammad Mahdi Shehu (“the Applicant”) from Police detention.
The Honourable judge who expressed surprise about the failure of the IGP and COP, FCT-Abuja to produce the Applicant before the Court with an Affidavit to show cause as ordered by the Court on 23 February, 2021 granted bail to the Applicant in the sum of 2 million and one Surety in the like sum. The Surety must have a landed property within Abuja metropolis.
The Order for the release/bail of the Applicant was made in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/208/21 between Alhaji Muhammad Mahdi Shehu VS IGP and COP FCT-Abuja pursuant to an Ex-Parte application for interim reliefs brought by counsel for the Applicant, Mustapha I. Abubakar, Esq, and following the failure of the Respondents to produce the Applicant before the Court as earlier ordered by the Court.
The said substantive Suit was filed on behalf on the Applicant on 22 February, 2021 to enforce his fundamental right to personal liberty and fair hearing as guaranteed by sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2004.
This was consequent upon the arrest of the Applicant by the Police on 16th February, 2021 at the Kubwa Train Station and his subsequent detention at the Divisional Police Headquarters, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja at the behest of the IGP since then without being brought before a Court (within 24 hours) as mandatorily required by section 35(4) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution.
It will be recalled that the IGP had through the IGP Monitoring Unit arrested and detained the Applicant (a 62 years old Kaduna based business mogul/rights activist and indigene of Katsina State) for 11 consecutive days between November and December, 2020 following serious allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds involving several bilions of naira made by the Applicant against the Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Bello Masari and other top officials of the State Government including the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa as well as top contractors to the State Government.
The Applicant was only released by the IGP in December, 2020 sequel to an order made by the FCT High Court, Abuja in Suit No: FCT/HC/M/12479/2020 for his production before the Court.
Although the FCT High Court, Abuja in its Judgment in the said Suit delivered on 18th December, 2020 found that the arrest and detention of the Applicant by the IGP was unconstitutional and unlawful and awarded damages of N5 million against the Nigeria Police Force and the IGP, the Police and the IGP were yet to pay the said damages before they re-arrested the Applicant on 16th February, 2021.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Abuja has adjourned the substantive Suit above for the enforcement of the Applicant’s fundamental right to personal liberty (i.e. Suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/208/21) to 16th March, 2021 for hearing.