Some time in April 2020, governor Bala Muhammad Abdulqadir of Bauchi State (Qaura) granted state pardon to a convicted criminal called Yusuf Bako, according to TheCable.
Yusuf Bako is a deranged quinquagenarian paedophile who lives in Yakubu Wanka Street of Bauchi town. He is a serial rapist. A criminal. Convicted felon. Recidivist. He is the worst amongst us.
Bako has committed the most heinous crime anyone can think of: He broke into a sacred place and desecrated it. On or about 3 September 2020, Bako dragged a four-year old little baby into the mosque and mercilessly raped her. And this happened in broad daylight, at Aminu Street, in the heart of Bauchi. Ya Salam. Rape in the mosque!
On that day of infamy, Bako got lucky. He was about to receive instant justice in the hands of good people of conscience who caught him in the act, when he was saved by the quick intervention of the Nigeria PoliceForce. But, by raping a child in the mosque and his other crimes, Bako rendered his life and liberty violable. He did not deserve our pity, forgiveness or pardon – neither today, yesterday nor tomorrow. But not in the wisdom of Qaura. Obviously, Bako is the kind of person Qaura likes to swap with Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz in prison.
If Qaura can and indeed did pardon Bako, why won’t he free Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz, an innocent man being witch-hunted? While Yusuf Bako is amongst the worst of us, Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz is among the best of us: He is a preacher and a scholar – he holds a doctorate degree. A philanthropist. He’s an entrepreneur running many businesses. He is a school proprietor managing primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. He built hospitals. He is a farmer of repute who feeds many hungry mouths.
He pays taxes to the state. He contributes immensely to the economy of the state. Thus, Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz deserves respect, gratitude and applause not the incarceration, intimidation, humiliation and witch hunt from the governor.
What’s the offence of Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz? He supported the APC and retired Air Marshal Sadique during the last governorship election – an election won by Qaura! The trump up charge of blasphemy is a smokescreen. And so what if Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz doesn’t believe in ‘seeking help from the dead’? His beliefs are his beliefs.
And like I said in my previous piece on this matter, “Idris Abdul’aziz has the constitutional rights to hold his beliefs and to air those beliefs privately or publically. Free speech entails that the state and citizens must tolerate the beliefs and ideas express by fellow citizens even if they find such expression extreme.”
Besides, the judiciary in Bauchi has a solemn role to play here and impartially so, without fear or favour. Their duty is to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens including the rights of Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz to free speech and political rights as well as his religious rights. Hence, I urge the Chief Judge to act timely, in the interest of justice, to preserve and protect the rights of Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz.
I am not naïve as to not understand the power of the purse in the hands of the governor, but doing justice to all manner of people demands bravery, sacrifice and perseverance. Our courts and judges must not be seen or perceived as willing tools in the hands of the governor or anyone against the people.
Lastly, enough is enough. Qaura should please cease witch-hunting Idris Abdul’aziz. He must respect, protect and preserve the rights of Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz, including freedom of association, right to liberty, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
If I were Qaura, I would be ashamed to have liberated Yusuf Bako and incarcerated Sheikh Idris Abdul’aziz. So, Mr Governor, Free Idris Abdul’aziz immediately and unconditionally.
Saad, a lawyer, is the Acting Chairman of APC Publicity Committee, Bauchi State and former Director-General of BASEPA.