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Judicial harassment of Ibrahim Garba Wala

Status: 
On trial
About the situation

The next hearing in the civil and criminal case against human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala has been scheduled for 3 October 2018, following a series of adjournments.

On 20 February 2018, Ibrahim Garba Wala attended the first hearing in the civil matter against him at Apo High Court, Abuja. In the court documents filed, the claimant was the only witness and the judge decided that this was inadmissible as the claimant must have an additional witness to the defamation. The trial has been adjourned until 23 April 2018 to give the claimant time to include an additional witness in the case.

On 30 January 2018, human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala was released on bail following a hearing on 24 January 2018 which confirmed three charges against him and set the terms of bail.

On 5 January 2018, human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala was arrested by police officers following a hearing in the High Court of Maitama District in Abuja, Nigeria.

About the Ibrahim Garba Wala

nigera_ibrahim_garba_wala_165.jpgIbrahim Garba Wala (popularly known as IG Wala) is the National Coordinator for Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria – CATBAN which is a human rights, anti-corruption and pro-democracy platform. CATBAN has led various campaigns and peaceful movements to promote human rights and the rule of law while documenting human rights violations resulting from practices of impunity and corruption by state actors. Ibrahim Garba Wala has submitted a number of petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detailing corruption in several organisations, specifically highlighting extortion by members of the National Hajj Commission, which is a public body tasked with licensing, regulating, performing oversight, and undertaking supervisory functions over agencies and other bodies.

26 February 2018
Additional charges added

Update: The next hearing in the civil and criminal case against human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala has been scheduled for 3 October 2018, following a series of adjournments.

On 26 February 2018, the first hearing in the criminal trial against Ibrahim Garba Wala was held at the High Court of Justice in FCT Abuja. During the hearing, an additional two charges were added, meaning that the defender faces a total of five charges, all relating to Facebook posts he made about corruption in public bodies, including the National Hajj Commission. The human rights defender is now charged with two counts of criminal intimidation, one count of managing an unlawful NGO, one count of public incitement and one count of defamation. The case has been adjourned until 12 April 2018.

30 January 2018
Charges confirmed against Ibrahim Garba Wala; released on bail

UPDATE: On 20 February 2018, Ibrahim Garba Wala attended the first hearing in the civil matter against him at Apo High Court, Abuja. In the court documents filed, the claimant was the only witness and the judge decided that this was inadmissible as the claimant must have an additional witness to the defamation. The trial has been adjourned until 23 April 2018 to give the claimant time to include an additional witness in the case.

On 30 January 2018, human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala was released on bail following a hearing on 24 January 2018 which confirmed three charges against him and set the terms of bail. 

Ibrahim Garba Wala (popularly known as IG Wala) is the National Coordinator for Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria – CATBAN which is a human rights, anti-corruption and pro-democracy platform. CATBAN has led various campaigns and peaceful movements to promote human rights and the rule of law while documenting human rights violations resulting from practices of impunity and corruption by state actors. Ibrahim Garba Wala has submitted a number of petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detailing corruption in several organisations, specifically highlighting extortion by members of the National Hajj Commission, which is a public body tasked with licensing, regulating, performing over-sight, and undertaking supervisory functions over agencies and other bodies.

On 24 January 2018, Ibrahim Garba Wala attended a bail hearing which confirmed the three charges against him as follows: threat to life, non-registration of an organisation and defamation of character. The charge of threat to life is based on allegations that the human rights defender used social media to instigate the public against the members of the National Hajj Commission, while the other two charges relate to statements made by Ibrahim Garba Wala detailing corruption and extortion in the Commission. On 30 January 2018, the human rights defender was released on bail pending trial on 26 February 2018.

On 4 January 2018, Ibrahim Garba Wala was invited by police officers in Abuja to attend an interview with his lawyer to give a statement on a criminal matter that had been lodged against him. On 5 January 2018, the human rights defender was arrested by police officers while in the court house following a hearing on the criminal matter against him and detained at the Force Intelligence Bureau of Abuja under the authority of the Inspector General of Police. On 8 January 2018, a court hearing was held where initial charges of intimidation, threat to life and defamation of character were issued against him, and the police were granted a court order giving them more time to investigate the case.

This criminal case relates to the same allegations of defamation lodged against him by a member of the National Hajj Commission to Apo High Court in Abuja in a civil defamation complaint from 2017. The two cases are now running concurrently. On 5 December 2017, the civil matter came up for hearing in court but was subsequently adjourned to 20 February 2018, when the plaintiff and his representative failed to appear in court. The judge granted an adjournment on the basis that the complainant’s lawyer was not yet prepared for the case.

Front Line Defenders condemns the judicial harassment based on false charges of Ibrahim Garba Wala, as it believes he has been targeted for his legitimate work in human rights and exposing corruption practices in Nigeria.

9 January 2018
Judicial harassment of human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala

UPDATE: On 5 January 2018, the police successfully submitted a detention order for fourteen days to complete the investigation. On Monday 22 January 2018, there will be a hearing at the High Court in Abuja to determine the validity of the order and to assess the case for bail.

On 5 January 2018, human rights defender Ibrahim Garba Wala was arrested by police officers following a hearing in the High Court of Maitama District in Abuja, Nigeria.

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On 4 January 2018, Ibrahim Garba Wala was invited by police officers to the police station with his lawyer to give a statement on a criminal matter that had been lodged against him. A member of the National Hajj Commission had previously submitted a civil defamation complaint against the human rights defender to Apo High Court in Abuja.

On 5 January 2018, the human rights defender was arrested by police officers and detained under the authority of the Inspector General of Police while in the court house following a hearing on the criminal matter against him.

On 8 January 2018 a court hearing was held where charges of intimidation, threat to life and defamation of character were issued against him. The police was granted a court order for additional time to investigate the case.

This criminal case follows an on-going civil matter based on the same accusations, with the two cases now running concurrently. On 5 December 2017, the civil matter came up for hearing in court but was subsequently adjourned to 20 February 2018, when the plaintiff and his representative failed to appear in court. The judge granted an adjournment as the complainant’s lawyer was not yet prepared for the case.

In a press release from 5 January 2018, CATBAN maintains that the police acted on a petition by a member of the National Hajj Commission to deter the human rights defender from continuing his efforts to expose corruption.

Front Line Defenders condemns the judicial harassment and detention based on false charges of Ibrahim Garba Wala, as it believes he has been targeted for his legitimate work in human rights and exposing corruption practices in Nigeria.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Nigeria to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Ibrahim Garba Wala as Front Line Defenders believes that he is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Immediately drop all charges against Ibrahim Garba Wala;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Nigeria are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.