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09/08/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this week, a judge in Nigeria’s Kaduna State failed to attend the trial of journalist Luka Binniyat, further prolonging the case after months of delays. Binniyat had been scheduled to appear for charges brought against him last year after he wrote an article about attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria.

He was arrested on November 4, 2021, after writing an article critical of the lack of government response to attacks against Christians in Southern Kaduna. One such attack left thirty-eight farmers dead. Binniyat’s article included a quote from a Southern Kaduna senator where he discussed the government’s use of the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security to detract attention from killing Christians in the state.

The senator has since claimed that he never gave this quote, and Binniyat was accused of defamation. On January 27, 2022, Binniyat pled not guilty to all charges, including cyber-related offenses, for supposedly disseminating false material through a computer.

Binniyat was released on bail on February 3, 2022. The stipulations for bail were extensive, with Binniyat needing two sureties from Kaduna, who both owned properties, with proof of ownership certificates. Binniyat struggled to meet the bail terms due to an additional requirement that the property ownership certificates needed specific certifications during the current Kaduna governor’s term in office.

Binniyat was arrested in 2017 after writing an article with false information, which he attempted to have rescinded before publication. The case against Binniyat is widely considered to be a political move against journalists on the part of Nigerian officials in Southern Kaduna, who are aware of the continued attacks made against Christians in the state. He is slated to have the next trial for the 2017 case later this month.

There is reason to believe that the governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, has played a part in the violence against Christians. In addition to a long history of inflammatory comments and rumor-spreading against Christians, El-Rufai has repeatedly endangered Christian communities in his state by putting whole county-sized areas under house arrest. Hundreds have died while under his lockdowns.

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