Bauchi Health Worker Accused of Blasphemy Continue to Suffer After 18 Months in Detention

The Bauchi State High Court has rejected the no-case submission filed by counsel to Rhoda Jatau, a Bauchi-based health worker who was has been in detention for 18 months for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad via a video she shared in a WhatsApp group.

Jatau shared the video at the peak of an outrage following the killing of Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of Home Economics at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, who was lynched by her course mates over blasphemous comments.

WikkiTimes had reported how Jatau escaped lynching before she was arrested by the authority on May 20, 2022. The aftermath of the incident led to the arson of six houses among other valuables in the state.

Jatau who worked in Warji local government area of Bauchi State is now facing charges of inciting public disturbance, exciting contempt of religious creed and cyberstalking. She had spent 18 months in detention without bail.

Bauchi Woman Who Blasphemed Prophet Muhammad Now In Prison — Police

The state government argued that Jatau’s offense contravene section 114 and 210 of the state penal code, and section 24, subsection 1b(I) of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act of 2015.

According to People’s Gazatte, the prosecution had since closed its case but the defence’s attempt to present its no-case argument was repeatedly stalled as the presiding judge defers court dates and the trial experiences a prolonged timeline.

Blasphemy: Bauchi Education Commissioner, Tilde Under Fire After Backing Deborah’s Killing  

Eventually, the submission was made on October 16 at a hearing witnessed by Jatau’s husband, Ya’u Adamu among others.

Her arrest and prolonged detention, the platform reports, have raised international concerns with the United Nations and organisations such as Christian Solidarity International (CSI) expressing worry.

They contend that Jatau’s incarceration represents an infringement on her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, religion or belief.

Of concern is the repeated denial of bail to Jatau. The United Nations and CSI underscore that the denial of bail not only restricts her freedom but also raises questions about the fairness and proportionality of the legal measures taken against her.

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