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By Audu Aboki Bulus 

The police have arrested and detained a Kaduna-based social activist and whistleblower, Malam Mahdi Shehu, for calling for the arrest and prosecution of former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

This was revealed by Mr Mahdi’s counsel, Barrister M.I Abubakar, in a statement on Wednesday. The lawyer said his client was arrested and detained Tuesday afternoon in Abuja by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit ostensibly on a petition written by Buhari’s former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The arrest was coming 24 hours after Mr Mahdi accused, through his verified X handle, some Buhari government top officials of sponsoring a campaign of calumny against Mr Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator appointed by President Tinubu to investigate the tenure of Godwin Emefiele at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Barrister Abubakar revealed this in a statement titled: “On the arrest of and detention of social critic/activist and whistleblower, Muhammad Mahdi Shehu,” and issued in Abuja.

He said the police have claimed to have arrested Mr Mahdi in his hotel room in Abuja based on a tip by Mr Malami, relating to an alleged WhatsApp chat between him and Mr Mahdi claiming that the latter attempted to extort N500 million from him.

The statement said, “Although the petition made allegations of hacking and compromise of emails and Bank accounts of the former AGF and some members of his family as well as an attempt to open a fake bank account in the name of a member of the family and extortion of about N 20,000,000.00 (twenty million naira) from a member of the family by a syndicate, no mention was made of the name of Muhammad Mahdi Shehu in the Petition.”

However, Mr Mahdi, through his counsel, has denied these allegations, saying, “For the records, our client denies categorically the allegation of extorting money from Malami, SAN or any member of his family and indeed any of the allegations made against him by MALAMI, SAN and his Chambers or family.”

Mr Mahdi had also in the past few months made publications very critical of some prominent members of the government of former President Buhari, especially Malami and specifically called for his arrest and prosecution.

“The arrest and detention of our Client may therefore not be unconnected with concerted efforts by Malami, SAN and other prominent members of the Government of former President Muhammadu Buhari accused by Mahdi Shehu to deal with him for having the temerity to dare them publicly and to silence and put him away from circulation for a long time,” the lawyer said.

Mr Mahdi was similarly arrested and detained twice over long periods by the same IGP Monitoring Unit between 2021 and 2022 over allegations he made against top officials of the Katsina State Government under the leadership of the Governor of the State, Aminu Bello Masari of allegedly corruptly and fraudulently diverting billions of naira belonging to the Katsina State Government under the guise of security spending.

“On those occasions, the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, Abuja Division found the arrest and detention of Mahdi Shehu unlawful and unconstitutional and respectively awarded N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) and N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) to him against the Police for his wrongful arrest and detention,” the statement said.

Barrister Abubakar said, “While we concede to the right of the police to investigate any allegation of crime against any citizen including our client, we humbly call on the police to respect the constitutional right of our client to be released on bail pending investigation or charged to court within 24 hours of his arrest regard being had of the fact that there are courts of competent jurisdiction within Abuja to entertain any charge in respect of the allegations against him (section 35(5)(a) of the 1999 Constitution).

“We also call on the Police to respect our client’s right to the dignity of his human person (section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution) by affording him decent treatment while in their custody.”

Mr Malami, SAN, a top Buhari’s aide, was Minister of Justice for eight years during the regime of former President Buhari between 2015 to 2019.

Credit: Daily Trust

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