Dec 11, 2023

Nigeria: Jailed Christian woman Rhoda Jatau released on bail

Rhoda Jatau, a Christian healthcare worker accused of blasphemy and jailed in May 2022, has been granted bail and freed. However, the charges against her have not been dropped. A new court hearing is scheduled for December 19.

Rhoda Jatau in court in Bauchi on October 16, 2023.

The mother of five was released from prison in Bauchi State on December 8. She had spent 18 months in detention on charges of inciting public disturbance, “exciting contempt of religious creed”, and cyber stalking.

The welcome news comes less than two weeks after the Bauchi High Court on November 27 rejected a “no-case submission” request brought by the defense, ruling that Jatau had a case to answer.

Solomon Mwantiri, a member of Jatau’s defense team and a local partner of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), confirmed the news. He said the 46-year-old was undergoing medical checks.

Jatau’s husband, Ya’u Adamu, expressed his joy at her release and said the family were looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.


Jatau was accused of blasphemy in connection with a video she allegedly shared with colleagues condemning the lynching of a Christian college student, Deborah Yakubu, in Sokoto State a week earlier.

CSI has been campaigning for Jatau’s release ever since May 20, 2022 when she was taken into custody. As part of a coalition of human rights groups, CSI issued an appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to take up the case of Rhoda Jatau.

In response, the Special Rapporteur and other UN human rights experts released a statement in October expressing concern at the arrest and detention of Jatau for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief. They also pointed out that Jatau had been repeatedly denied bail and since her arrest had only had intermittent access to legal counsel.

Since the last court hearing on November 27, Jatau’s case has been widely publicized on social media, with the hashtags #FreeRhoda and #RhodaJatau trending on X (formerly Twitter).

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