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Alleged defamation : Ganduje can win case in court – Prof. Zannuraini

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*Says Islam abhors defamatory spying * Sharia rejects negative clips as evidence

With good lawyers’ presentation of lack of substance on the alleged video clips showing Governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in a misconduct scenario, a court of law can be convinced that the motion pictures are targeted against the number one citizen’s fundamental human rights, a Professor of Law from Bayero University, Kano, Malam Usman Zannuraini has observed.

He noted that there is serious misper­ception of citizens’ right by many Ni­gerians which has limitations to individ­ual’s rights because where one’s rights stop is where that of others start, adding that there is no absolutism in Freedom of Expression Act; it is liable for defama­tion and slander.

“Jaafar Jaafar, the publisher of online newspaper Daily Nigerian as a citizen of Nigeria has the right to say whatever he wants to say subject only to Limitations Clause and Derogatory Clause of that Fundamental Freedom of Expression; if Jaafar Jaafar defames the government it can take him to court; if he defames an executive governor he can take him to court. And I heard that the Kano state government is trying to take him (Jaaf­ar) to court,” the Professor maintained.

Prof. Zannuraini who made these observations in an exclusive interview with The Triumph on Wednesday, re­vealed that there are direct and indirect evidences in the law, the alleged clips are termed as indirect or circumstantial evidences, they may be acceptable in law.

He, however, observed that it could be quite difficult actually for any per­son just by mere looking at these shady clips to return a verdict that a case of taking bribery is established against Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

“Since the clips are not clear,” the senior lecturer said,” if you have these kinds of evidences, you need to weigh them against the law to see whether they are admissible. Clips are electron­ic admissible evidences, and according to 2011Amended Law, Evidence Act of Nigeria they are admissible. However, it is not only admissibility that deter­mines one is guilty or otherwise.

“But the issue of weight depends on the court attached to that admitted evi­dence; all these are questions the court should address before it finally reaches conclusion and returns a verdict of guilt or innocence against the accused per­son.

“Whenever you have any shadow of doubt in the case of accuser such doubt must be resolved in favour of the ac­cused person because the Constitution is beyond any reasonable doubt. If there is doubt it means prosecution has not succeeded in establishing the case, and when they cannot establish that, the accused person shall be discharged and acquitted,” Prof. Zannuraini fur­ther explained.

He revealed that from an Islamic Law perspective, electronic-generated evidence is not good evidence; it can­not establish guilt but it can establish innocence, adding that in Islamic Law electronic-generated evidences are only admissible when they are in favour of the accused person.

“I am not in a position actually to judge whether the whole thing is in favour of the accuser or it is in favour of Governor Ganduje, but I believe in­vestigation into the matter and diligent prosecution of the case will establish the truth,” he stated.

“The Islamic position on this issue” the Professor said, is almost similar to conventional laws, stressing that that of Islam is much higher in limitations than that of Western laws.

He said many Qur’anic verses have strongly discouraged interference in one’s personal life; noting that Islamic Law holds personality honour and rep­utation very seriously.

The scholar said that Islam encour­ages people to cover mistakes and blun­der committed by leaders, explaining that the reason is that leaders are the symbols of the society and its reflec­tion, thus destroying their reputation is like destroying that of their people.

Prof. Zannuraini further stated that Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) says “whoever covers the misdeeds of his brother, Allah will cover his own in the Day of Judgment. And whoever tries to expose the misdeeds of a broth­er, Allah will also expose his. Whoever tries to spy on others, Allah will spy on him, and whoever Allah spies on, He will expose him even inside his home.”

He said exposing such alleged video clips would not do any good to the so­ciety apart from causing serious harm to it, appealing to people especially journalists to be mindful of their job in order to have a decent society.

The Professor warned that people should not use medium just to make names, but as a means for the develop­ment of the society, noting that If peo­ple have sufficient Islamic knowledge and morality, there are certain things that they should not do, advising that it is not proffer for anyone to practice one’s profession without knowing the burden of Sharia in it.

On Kano State House of Assembly investigation on the matter, Prof. Zann­uraini said the lawmakers are discharg­ing their function within the ambits of the law.

It could be recalled that Jaafar Jaafar, a Muslim, appeared before the House holding the Glorious Qur’an, in­dicating that he is ready to abide by the laws stipulated therein.

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