“We are pleased to report that Mrs. Rhoda has been granted bail and subsequently released from detention today. We have high hopes that the case will end in praise. Let’s continue to uphold her in our prayers. The leadership of NIREC played a key role. Praise be to our God,” an official confirmed on Friday.
Jatau’s arrest in May 2022 by the Department of State Services (DSS) followed her sharing a video that condemned the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a Christian female student at Sokoto College. She was accused of blasphemy by Islamic extremists in Sokoto. Jatau faced charges of inciting public disturbance, “exciting contempt of religious creed,” and cyberstalking.
The prosecution had closed its case, but the defence’s attempt to present its no-case argument was repeatedly stalled as the presiding judge deferred court dates, resulting in a prolonged timeline. The submission was eventually made on October 16, with Jatau’s husband, Ya’u Adamu, and other observers present.
The court had previously ruled that Jatau’s sharing of a social media video was offensive to extant laws. Her lawyers will now work to prove that her action was justified rather than the initial stance that her action did not constitute the alleged offences.
Jatau’s arrest and prolonged detention had raised international concerns, with the United Nations and organizations such as Christian Solidarity International expressing worry. They contended that Jatau’s incarceration represented an infringement on her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, religion, or belief.
Of particular concern was the repeated denial of bail to Jatau. The United Nations and CSI pointed out that the denial of bail not only restricts her freedom but also raises questions about the fairness and proportionality of the legal measures taken against her.
Deborah, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was brutally murdered after advising against posting religious materials on a WhatsApp page.