The Upper Shariah Court of Appeal No 1 sitting in Bauchi on Wednesday issued a warrant of arrest against the embattled Imam of Dutsen-Tanshi Jumma’at Mosque in Bauchi, Idris Abdul’aziz, over his failure to appear before the court.
The embattled cleric was initially arraigned before the Bauchi Magistrate Court 1 by the state Commissioner of Police for alleged incitement to public disturbance of peace and blasphemy.
Upon his arraignment, he was remanded at the Bauchi correctional centre before he was eventually granted bail.
The police had arraigned him before the court following a petition written against him, alleging that during one of his Tafsir sessions during this year’s holy month of Ramadan he made blasphemous comments against Prophet Mohammed and some notable Sufi clerics.
However, the case was transferred to the Upper Shariah Court of Appeal 1 Bauchi for trial.
When the case was called during the court’s sitting on Wednesday, the cleric was absent in court, with the prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Bn Idris, saying that the defendant’s absence was deliberate.
The defence counsel, however, Barrister Sadiq Abubakar Ilelah, however, informed the court that the cleric was not in court due to his sickness and pleaded for an adjournment to enable Idris to come to court.
In a bench ruling, the presiding judge, Hussaini Turaki, held that Idris’ failure to come to court despite being issued with a summon to that effect amounts to contempt of court.
He subsequently issued a bench warrant for the cleric’s arrest with a view to forcing him to appear before court at the next adjourned date.
Turaki then adjourned the case to Monday, June 5, 2023.
Speaking with journalists after the adjournment of the case, counsel to Idris, Barrister Ilellah attributed his absence in court to an undisclosed ailment, saying that, “The Imam was sick. That is why he could not attend the court sitting.”
Ilelah informed the defence had filed a motion, seeking an adjournment to enable the cleric to appear on the next adjourned date.
According to him, “the judge refused our plea that our client be given another opportunity to appear before the court, arguing that he disrespected the summons of the court.”
The prosecuting counsel, Idris explained to journalists that the case was transferred from Magistrate Court 1 to the Upper Shariah Court of Appeal in order to start afresh and lamented that the cleric was not in court for the commencement of trial.
“Unfortunately, the defendant could not come to court, but they have filed a notice of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
“However, we argue that he is supposed to appear before the court before they move their motion.
“We applied for a bench warrant to be issued against him since he has refused to come to court, and the court ruled in that favour,” the prosecutor said.