Nigeria’s Chidi Odinkalu has lost a fundamental rights case which his lawyers instituted against the Kaduna State Government at the Federal High Court.

Odinkalu, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, was also asked to pay N5,000 to each of the four defendants in the case, his lawyer Gloria Ballason said in a statement.

Another report from Kaduna authorities claimed Odinkalu was asked to pay N500,000 each to the defendants, who include Governor Nasir El-Rufai and the police.

But Ms. Ballason insisted to Peoples Gazette that it was N5,000 that Odinkalu was asked to pay.

“He lied,” the lawyer said of El-Rufai, whose official Twitter handle had posted the N500,000 claim on Thursday afternoon.

Odinkalu sought to enforce his fundamental rights to free speech before the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court after El-Rufai filed charges of injurious falsehood against the rights expert.

The case stemmed from a comment Odinkalu made on television in 2019 that contradicted claims by El-Rufai that Nigerians of Fulani origin were killed in a Southern Kaduna community.

Odinkalu said he spoke with multiple people in the area who debunked the governor’s claim, and suggested that it was made in a bid to elicit sympathy from the electorate.

Kaduna State initially filed the charges before a magistrate’s court that lacked independence from government interference, with the case being heard without a case number amongst other technical flaws.

With Justice Peter Malong quashing the rights enforcement case today, Odinkalu now looks forward to a ruling on another judicial review process due next week.

Ms. Ballason said her client would appeal today’s case in the meantime.

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