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Biafra: Court slates December 1 to decide Kanu, others’ bail applications

Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday slated December 1, 2016 to decide the bail applications filed by the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others, who are standing trial on 11-count charge bordering on treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and terrorism and other offences bordering on their agitation for secession of the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria.

When the matter came up on Thursday, counsel to the IPOB leader, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, while arguing the bail application dated November 7, 2016, prayed the court to admit Kanu to bail on liberal terms.

The bail application, Ejiofor said was supported by a 26-paragraph affidavit and 35 exhibits, which include the charge filed against Kanu at the magistrate’s court, the ruling of the court granting him bail, the ruling of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering unconditional release of the Biafra leader.

Other document attached to Kanu’s bail application is a newspaper publication of a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the first defendant (Kanu) will not be granted bail by any court and a certified true copy of certificate of incorporation of the Radio Biafra.

He informed the court that the first defendant has initiated contempt proceedings against the Department of State Services (DSS) for refusing to obey an order of the court made last year, granting him bail.

Counsel to the second defendant, I. Adoga informed the court that his client is still in custody of the DSS, instead of prison custody as ordered by the court.

Counsel to the other defendants variously prayed the court to admit their clients to bail on liberal conditions.

Meanwhile, prosecution counsel, Suleiman Labaran, in a counter affidavit to the various bail applications, asked the court to refuse the applications and order an accelerated hearing in the matter.

According to him, the defendants are threat to national security, adding that the firearm licence, which the third defendant claimed he has, was not issued by the appropriate authority.

Labaran also drew the court’s attention to the application filed by the prosecution seeking witness protection in the matter, which he said has been served on all the parties in the matter.

After hearing submissions from council for and against the applications for the bail of Kanu and his co-defendants, the trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako adjourned till December 1, to decide the application.

Recall that in the amended charges dated November 7, 2016 and filed by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mohammed Umar, the Federal Government added five fresh charges to the earlier six the defendants were initially charged with.

Also included in the charge for the first time is one David Nwawusi. The other two, Onwudiwe Chidiebere and Benjamin Madubugwu had been charged along with Kanu in the earlier six-count charge.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them, after which the application for their bail was moved, the trial judge then slated Thursday to hear arguments on the bail application of the defendants.

Kanu, alongside Onwudiwe Chidiebere and Benjamin Madubugwu were first arraigned before Justice Shuiabu Usman of a Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.

Justice Usman dismissed the case following a motion by the prosecutor, the Department of State Services (DSS) that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

At the Federal High Court, Abuja where the defendants were arraigned, Justices Ahmed Ramat Mohammed and Adeniyi Ademola, who were first assigned the case withdrew from the matter, following allegation of bias by the defendants and that they would not get fair hearing from the court.

Also, a brother judge, Justice John Tsoho, towed a similar part after a petition, alleging bias was lodged against him before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The case file was then returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta before it was re-assigned to Nyako, who will decide whether or not to grant the defendants bail on December 1.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Namdi Kanu, ‘M’, Onwudiwe Chidiebere ‘M’, Benjamin Madubugwu ‘M’, David Nwawusi ‘M’ and others now at large on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria and London, United Kingdom, did conspire amongst yourselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, preparations being made by you and others at large, or states in the South East and South South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue States to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into a Republic of Biafra and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, CAP.C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2000.”