Trial Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Thursday, declined to release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, on bail.
Justice Binta equally refused bail applications made by three other pro-Biafra agitators, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are facing trial alongside Kanu.
The four defendants who are answering to an 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony and their alleged involvement in acts of terrorism, had through their lawyers, pleaded the court to release them on bail pending the determination of the charge against them.
Their separate bail applications were predicated on sections 158, 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, as well as section 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The defendants contended that charges against them were not only bailable offences, but also not felony punishable with death.
Arguing that the presumption of innocence under the Nigerian constitution was in their favour, the defendants said their release from detention would enable them to properly defend the charge against them.
Besides, they insisted that their right to self determination was guaranteed both by the Nigeria constitution and Article 20 of the Africa Charter on Peoples and Human Right.
They maintained that IPOB which they said has been registered in over 30 countries, has not been proscribed or declared as a dangerous organisation under any law.
They defendants expressed their readiness to produce reasonable sureties before the court. However, FG, vehemently opposed release of any of the defendants on bail.
Government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, told the court that the defendants would constitute “a threat to national security”, once freed from prison custody. Labaran, who further applied to the court for protection of witnesses billed to testify against the defendants, drew attention of the court to the fact that the 1st defendant, Kanu, has dual citizenship.
He argued that Kanu who he said has both Nigerian and British passports, would escape out of the country if released on bail. While praying the court to allow the defendants to attend their trial from Kuje prison, FG, stressed that Onwudiwe was a major threat, saying he was the only one facing a particular count of “preparatory to commit an act of terrorism”.
Meanwhile, in her ruling, Justice Nyako, held that charge against the defendants “are very serious in nature”, and therefore not ordinarily bailable.
“Irrespective of what the charge is, the court has to exercise its discretion on way or the other”, the Judge held, adding that some of the charges against the defendants could attract life imprisonment if proved by FG.
Justice Nyako also dismissed contention by the defendants that President Muhammadu Buhari had openly directed that they should not be released on bail.
The Judge held that President Buhari, being a citizen of Nigeria, was at liberty to exercise his freedom of speech.
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