Jailed Rights Activist Gets Presidential Pardon, Released from Jail

Ibrahim Wala, Convener, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria
Ibrahim Wala, Convener, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria

A jailed human rights activist, Mr. Ibrahim Wala, has regained his freedom following a presidential pardon extended to him and over 2,000 other prisoners. Ibrahim was convicted and sentenced by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on April 15, 2019, for falsely accusing a public official of corruption in a Facebook post

He was released on April 15, 2020, exactly a year after he was sentenced, as part of an amnesty granted by President Muhammad Buhari to 2,600 prisoners across Nigeria in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The activist who is the convener of the anti-corruption group, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria, (CATBAN) was to spend seven years in prison after he was handed a total of 12 years for defamation, organising an unlawful assembly by convening the anti-corruption organization and inciting the public against the Executive Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), MalamAbdullahi Muhammad. The court sentenced him to seven years, two years and three years in connection with the respective charges. All three sentences were to run concurrently.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja on March 20, 2020, reduced all three jail terms. The longest term of seven years, which was imposed on Wala for unlawful assembly, was reduced to two years. Having already spent one year in prison, the activist had one more year to serve before the presidential pardon came.

On September 26, 2017, Ibrahim, convener of Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria, had made a Facebook post accusing Mukhtar of corruptly enriching himself to the tune of N3bn after the 2017 Hajj.

The activist was arraigned following a petition filed by Prosecution Counsel, MrLabaranMagaji, on behalf of MalamAbdullahi Muhammad, on April 4, alleging that Ibrahim used his Facebook page to incite the public against him and defame his integrity and that of the Commission he heads.