By Salisu Sani-Idris/Abuja
Anti-corruption and human rights activist Ibrahim Garba Wala, also known as IG Wala, has bagged a harsh 12-year imprisonment without an option of fine for ‘criminal defamation’ and organising an unlawful assembly.
The convict was arraigned following a petition filed by Prosecution Counsel, Mr Labaran Magaji, on behalf of the Executive Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria( NAHCON),Malam Abdullahi Muhammad, on April 4.
Muhammad alleged that Wala used his Facebook page to incite the public against him and defame him and NAHCON.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Yusuf Halilu found Wala guilty on three of the four-count charges filed against him by Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami(SAN)
The three counts for which he was found guilty were unlawful assembly, public incitement and criminal defamation of character.
The judge, however, dismissed the charge of criminal intimidation for lack of merit.
On the charge of unlawful assembly, Wala was found guilty of using an unregistered organisation, the Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria, CATBAN, to form unlawful assembly.
On Count 2, Wala was sentenced to seven years, while on Counts 3 and 4, the activist bagged three and two years respectively.
The judge said the prosecution “has been able to establish the offence of making an unlawful assembly”
The court also found Wala guilty of public incitement, contrary to Section 114 Penal Code which deals with the breach of public peace.
The judge also agreed with the prosecution that Wala criminally defamed the Chairman of NAHCON after he alleged that the NAHCON boss “made N3 billion for himself” from the 2017 Hajj operations.
The judge said Wala wrote on his Facebook page that he has documents to prove the allegation.
He, however, said the activist failed to provide the document to prove his claims in court.
“Where is the document proving N3billion made by chairman of hajj commission?
“Why has the accused person failed to tender such document now that he has been dragged before a court of law?,” the judge asked.
He said by his inability to provide relevant documents to prove his “huge allegations”, Wala “has made the case of the prosecution less cumbersome”.
He, therefore, sentenced Wala to 12 years in prison, saying the jail terms will run concurrently, without an option of fine.