In May 2022, Rhoda Ya’u Jatau was arrested by security agents on accusations of causing a disturbance, cyberstalking and showing “contempt of religious creed”, for sharing her dismay on social media over the mob killing of a Christian woman.
Human rights advocates have repeatedly expressed their concerns for this mother of five, who remains incarcerated while her case slowly works through the courts. Meanwhile, Rhoda’s family has gone into hiding, and her husband has sold their belongings to finance his wife’s legal defence.
The judge overseeing this case has refused to grant bail on the grounds that it could trigger rioting by militant Islamic groups. Although the prosecution has closed its arguments, there have been repeated delays as the defence attempts to begin. In the most recent hearing, which took place on 16 October, it was determined that the defence would present its case on 27 November. At that time, the judge will also consider a “no-case submission” by the defence, calling for the case to be thrown out.
Rhoda and her family live in Bauchi State, one of 12 northern Nigerian states that have introduced Sharia (Islamic law) into their criminal code. If convicted, the 45-year-old mother could face capital punishment.