Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
DAY 16: Tuesday September 2, 2014. Around noon – Prisoners are not permitted to have a timepiece, and none except one of the female wardens wears a wristwatch, so my timing is based on retro-estimation from when I asked her the time.
I heard my name called by female wardens.
Umm Sulaim! Pack your things. You are going home.
From mid afternoon on Monday 18th of August 2014, I was a prisoner in Sokoto State Prison.
My offence was reasoning with the magistrate judge of Wamakko, Fatimah Suka who charged me with contempt of court.
She asked me to remove my Niqab to which I agreed, except she meant I should unveil not just for her as I had reasoned, because she is a woman, but also for the men present.
Thinking is contraband.
Over the years, I have spent precious moments arguing with several Muslims within Nigeria and across the world that the opposition to the Sharee’ah in the far North of my beloved nation Nigeria originate not from the federal government as widely claimed but from the Hausa-Fulani ethnicity.
Contrary to usual dishonesty of the practice by the some Hausa-Fulani of blaming events in the North on Christians, none of the key players in my incarceration and in the ensuing conspiracy to retain me in prison was a Christian.
It is my hope that my recent experiences at the hands of Hausa-Fulanis will further elucidate to minds receptive of reason the actual situation in Northern Nigeria.
On hearing of the end to my imprisonment, I rushed from my cell in the female wing of the prison towards the wardens.
Playfully drumming on the torso of the most senior female staff present, I enquired the veracity of the news.
It was true. I was about to leave the high walls of prison.
I returned to my cell, fell in prostration to Allah and wept.
When I was informed I would be going to court, I turned back to my cell my luggage in hand.
I am not going to court.
One of the staff left towards the main prison entrance in order to clarify events. She returned in company of four male prison officials.
One a senior warden calmly explained the procedure: A prisoner if remanded can leave the prison only on the issuance of a production warrant by the judge who on seeing the inmate rules on whether to grant bail or dismiss the case.
I bid farewell to women officials and left accompanied by a female warden, after being briefed not to put on my Niqab and socks until after the judge issues a ruling.
When I pleaded not guilty, Fatimah Suka granted me bail and adjoined the case to September 22, 2014.
I need a copy of court records of the case. The lawyer from the Sokoto office of National Human Rights Commission advised I can only obtain court records if the case continues.
The barrister was helpful, however, I need an alternative legal team preferably from the South, regardless of ethnicity or creed.
The current case of incitement to public disturbance is a distraction from the real case I wish to pursue.
I pray a Nigerian versed in legal proceedings will render services so I can pursue the case of assault against me by my neighbour Sirajo Aliyu to a fruitful conclusion.
The Nigeria Police had charged both Sirajo and I with public disturbance – two fighting the police claimed.
A man attacks a woman and she defends herself with a knife, it is two persons fighting. Violence against women goes out the window.
Interestingly, Sirajo Aliyu was discharged on pleading guilty.
It is not over yet, I promise.
I profoundly appreciate the police officials and prison wardens who were warm towards me from the outset throughout my contact with them.
I must stress the goodwill cut across Religion and ethnicity. I am especially grateful to wardens M.I, and H.G who were consistent in standing for justice and saw to my comfort.
I acknowledge the couple of Hausa-Fulani prison wardens who stood out from the abyss of their people. In fact, the very first to visit me in prison was Hausa-Fulani who kept true to me.
I do appreciate everyone who visited me and others who were distressed on learning of my imprisonment.
~ Post-Publication Addendum ~
Please note my full official name is Umm Sulaim Iman Taqwa and my ethnicity is Igbo not Yoruba.