The spokesperson for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and a freelance journalist with Epoch Times, a United States-based newspaper, Luka Binniyat, has reportedly been in detention since November 4, 2021. His wife, Gladys, speaks to SOLOMON ODENIYI how the experience ruined the family’s Christmas celebration
When was your husband arrested?
He was arrested on November 4, 2021. On that day, he left the house by 2pm and said he was going to the secretariat of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union to see someone. I was in the house expecting my husband’s return but he did not come back. I was worried because this was unusual of him, although because of the nature of his job he comes home late but he calls to keep me updated on his movement. This particular day, I didn’t hear anything from him. Since then he has not been home.
How did you get the information that he was arrested and detained?
It was the next morning when I saw executive members of SOKAPU in our house. With their visit, I knew something was wrong. I asked them if my husband had an accident, they said no. They kept quiet; I asked if (Kaduna State Governor Nasir) El-Rufai had arrested him again, they said yes. Since then we have been doing all our best to get him out of custody.
Had he been arrested before by the government?
Yes, that was in 2017. Precisely it happened in July 2017 and he was later released on October 16 , 2017. He spent over 100 days in detention.
Why this is surprising is that Samuel Aruwan, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, who ordered his arrest is from the same Southern Kaduna my husband hails from and he was formerly a journalist before he got his appointment with the government. He ordered my husband’s arrest because of a report he did on the killings in the same Southern Kaduna he hails from.
Has he been taken to court?
After taking him from one police station to another, they finally took him to court and arraigned him but the court has refused to admit him to bail. The lawyers have made two requests for his release but were denied. They said they couldn’t grant him bail on the matter. They gave so many reasons, they said they lacked the power. I have never heard something like that before in my life – but they have power to detain him? They also said the police were not done with their investigation.
Why do you think he is being targeted by the government?
He is the only one who can look them in the eye and tell them the truth, even if he is dying. They have been calling him for a lot of meetings but he refused, he told them he is not doing what he is doing to seek favour from them.
How have you been coping with his absence?
Life has not been easy for us. I am a full-time housewife. I resigned from my job so that I can take good care of the family due to the nature of his job. His kind of work is very demanding , he can leave home any time and does not come back early; even when he is home he is always having something to do. Even on Sundays he doesn’t have time to spend with his family. Being a housewife wasn’t what I wanted; I just had to make that sacrifice for the children. He had been the one fending for the family. I have to assume that role now that he has been detained by the Kaduna State Government. We have six children and I can tell you that it hasn’t been easy for me.
How was the Christmas celebration without him?
When the man of the house is away and it is not that he travelled but he is being kept in custody for speaking the truth about a situation, you would want to feel bad. Myself and the children were not happy not having him with us during the Christmas celebration. We had a lot of plans some months back on how this Christmas would go; all that never happened. We could not celebrate as a family as we usually do. The Kaduna State Government took away that joy that comes with such celebration in our family. I know the God that fights for the poor would arise for me. It is indeed a sad experience for me remembering how the Christmas went for us.
Is there any hope that he will be released soon?
I am not sure. This is actually the first time since I married him that I would celebrate the Christmas and New Year without my husband. The experience has not been pleasant for me; I have just been staying strong for him and the children.
The government should release my husband to me, even if it is on bail, he should be released. That is all I want.