Newspaper Publisher Arraigned over Alleged Extortion, Blackmail, libel

courtMr. Tukur Mamu, Publisher of the Desert Herald newspaper based in the Northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, was Thursday arraigned in court here over alleged attempt to defraud the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to the tune of 15 million naira (US$1 = 160 naira).

The publisher was arraigned for alleged extortion, blackmail, libel and sundry offences against the Minister of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, and one Ibrahim Bamoi.

But Mamu, who appeared before Chief Magistrate Tony Ubani, fell in the witness box, shouting Alahu Akbar, Alahu Akbar,!! (God is great! God is Great!!), minutes after the charges were read to him.

The development stalled proceeding momentarily and Magistrate Ubani ordered that the publisher be attended to by his kinsmen who accompanied him to court.

At the resumption of proceedings, the prosecutor, Stanley Nwodo, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, had hardly started his submission when the accused again began to groan and fainted in the witness box, forcing the magistrate to adjourn sitting on the matter till 9 September, 2013.

When he was later revived, the magistrate ordered that Mamu be kept in police custody and taken to a reputable hospital for medical attention until he is fit to stand trial.

Later, the defence counsel, Abdul Mohammed, explained to journalists that the accused had been on medication before the police arrested him on Monday, adding that only a competent medical doctor could establish his health status.

He, however, accused the FCT authorities of abusing court process since the matter was already pending before a High Court, and “wondered why the same case should be taken to a Magistrate.”

Tukur was arrested on Monday at his office in Kaduna and driven to Abuja.

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