A Christian mother of five has been released on bail after spending 19 months in a Nigerian prison on charges of “blasphemy”
Rhoda Jatau now safe in undisclosed location while she awaits trial. She still faces up to 5 years imprisonment.
Prosecutors allege that she shared a blasphemous video condemning the brutal murder of Christian college student Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu in May 2022.
The university student was attacked and set on fire by a mob of her classmates, for sharing her Christian faith.
Jatau is being charged with public disturbance and religious insult offences. She is supported by ADF International, who say during her detention she was repeatedly denied bail and only had intermittent access to legal counsel and family members.
“We are glad to see that Rhoda Jatau finally has been granted bail after being denied it for so long,” said Sean Nelson, legal counsel for ADF International. “No person should be punished for peaceful expression, and international religious freedom advocates must continue to speak up on Rhoda’s behalf. We will continue to seek justice for Rhoda, and we are hopeful that the unjust charges against her will be dropped completely.”
The Nigerian ADF International allied lawyer, serving as lead counsel on Jatau’s case, responded: “After 19 long months in prison, we are happy that Rhoda finally has been released on bail. We thank all who have been praying for Rhoda, and we ask for your continued prayers as her case continues.”
The judge in Bauchi State, Nigeria has refused to dismiss prosecutors’ case in their trial against Jatau. Her lawyers argue that the basic elements of the case against their client have not been established.
There was an international outcry over Jatau’s imprisonment. Appeals from freedom of speech campaigners led to United Nations experts sending a joint letter to the Nigerian government earlier this year, accusing them of violating the mother’s fundamental human rights.
Her trial, which was scheduled to resume on 19 December has been delayed until 23 January, because of the holidays.