Social media commentator, Ibrahim Garba Wala, has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment over offences bordering on criminal defamation and public incitement.
Justice Yusuf Halilu of a High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday, convicted Wala, who is the convener of Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) in 3 of the 4-count charges brought against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Justice Halilu convicted him fo managing unlawful association, public incitement and defamation of character over social media posts against the chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Muhammed.
The NAHCON boss had alleged that Wala used his Facebook page to incite the public against him and defame him and that of the commission.
The court agreed with the prosecution that Wala criminally defamed Muhammed 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, but failed to provide the document to prove his claims in court.
According to Jaafar Ja’afar a journalist who was also present in court, he wrote that “I was in the court today but did not wait till the end of the session. The judge was trying to be lenient after passing the judgement without the sentence. He took about 20 minutes break to resume, decide on the leniency plea by IG Wala’s lawyer and pass sentence. But IG Wala spoilt everything when he made a live video of himself in the courtroom and criticized the judgement in another post. The judge was livid when his attention was drawn to the video and the post. I learn on good authority that the reason for a series of adjournments in delivering the judgement was that the judge wanted the matter settled out of court”.
From what Ja’afar wrote, IG Wala made a facebook live video while in court and that influenced the Judge’s decision.