A 32-year-old civil servant, Mr. Johnson Musa, was on Friday dragged before a Lokoja Chief Magistrates’ Court for allegedly threatening and exposing the Abuja residence of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
Musa, an indigene of Dekina Local Government Area of the state, was alleged to have taken aerial pictures of the governor’s Abuja residence with a drone camera and posted them on social media.
He was said to have posted the pictures with the caption, “This building is owned by an individual in Kogi, where hunger is the first name, in less than one year.”
The prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abaji, a senior legal officer with the state Ministry of Justice, said Musa was arrested on Thursday by men of the Department of State Services.
The action, Abaji said, had put the governor and his family under threat and potential harm to their property, urging the court to take cognisance of the offense of cyber stalking against the accused.
Musa pleaded not guilty to the offense and his counsel, Williams Aliwo of Crystal Chambers, orally applied for his bail in line with section 36(5) of the Constitution and section 341(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Aliwo submitted that any order to remand the accused in prison custody would amount to punishing him ahead of the proof of his guilt, adding that the accused would not jump bail or try to escape justice if the bail conditions were granted.
But the bail application was vehemently opposed by Abaji on the grounds that an investigation into the matter was ongoing aside from the fact that the penalty attached to the offense is 10 years’ imprisonment or an option of a minimum of N25m fine.
In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Alhassan Husaini, said by virtue of Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the presumption of innocence of the accused was constitutionally guaranteed.
Husaini granted the accused bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum, adding that the sureties must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court.
To allay the fears of the prosecution counsel over the inconclusive investigation, he ordered that a register of attendance be opened at the DSS office for the accused to report on Monday and Thursday.
Husaini adjourned the case to August 17.