The Kaduna state government has filed criminal charges against the Anglican Bishop of Zaria, Abiodun Ogunyemi for ‘criminally defaming’ governor Nasir el-Rufai.
The Bishop was arraigned before a chief magistrate’s court in Kaduna on charges bordering on criminal defamation, injurious falsehood and criminal intimidation.
Ogunyemi had in November 2019, criticized the governor over a planned demolition of St George Cathedral in Zaria.
He said el-Rufai was being groomed to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 but he would never be president.
Following protests from Church members and stakeholders, the government in a newspaper publication rescinded its order to demolish the Cathedral.
It was alleged that the governor unhappy with one of the Bishop’s comments and was said to have ordered the Commissioner of Police to commence discreet investigation.
The police invited the bishop for interrogation several times at its headquarters in Kaduna.
On August 3, 2020, he was again invited to the Police Headquarters and the next day, August 4, 2020, he was arraigned on the advice of the Ministry of Justice.
The Bishop pleaded not guilty and was granted bail by the court. A member of the Kaduna Synod and a canon of the cathedral church of St Michael Kaduna stood in as surety.
Interestingly, the director of public prosecutions told the court that there were ongoing consultations which could lead to a peaceful resolution of the case.
The defence did not oppose the submission and the magistrate adjourned the case to October 28, 2020.