IPOB: Nnamdi Kanu Challenges Bail Conditions; Wants To Be Among Crowd, Grant Interviews
Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has challenged the bail conditions granted him by an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
Kanu and four other members of his group are facing prosecution by the Nigerian government for alleged treasonable felony and other offences.
Justice Binta Nyako, had on April 25, 2017, granted bail to Kanu, but dismissed the separate bail applications filed by his co-defendants – the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former field maintenance engineer seconded to MTN, David Nwawuisi.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Magaji Labaran, had recently amended the charges to include another co-defendant, Bright Chimezie.
The charges against the defendants included conspiracy and treasonable felony by allegedly conspiring among themselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra agitation for the secession of Republic of Biafra from Nigeria. They were also accused of improper importation of goods and illegal possession of firearms.
Kanu’s bail was based on 12 major conditions, some of which require him to avoid a crowd of more than 10 people, as he was barred from granting press interviews.
In his application filed on July 1, 2017, the IPOB leader maintained that parts of the bail conditions prohibiting him from being seen in a gathering exceeding 10 persons, granting press interviews and holding or attending rallies, violated his constitutional rights.
His lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, stated in the motion that the undesirable bail terms and conditions were contained in paragraphs 2(vii) and (viii) of the court’s ruling, granting bail to his client on April 25.
Anchored on Sections 6(6), 36(5), 39, 40, and 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), as well as Section 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the motion is therefore, seeking, “An order of this honourable court varying the bail conditions given to the first defendant/applicant on April 25, 2017, by outrightly (sic) vacating paragraph 2(vii) and (viii) in the said order, which stipulates ‘that the first defendant should not be seen in a crowd exceeding 10 people; and that the defendant should not grant any interviews, hold or attend any rallies, respectively.”
Ejiofor argued that the bail conditions were excessive, while maintaining that by virtue of Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution, his client was presumed innocent.
He contended that the part of the condition barring him from being seen in a crowd exceeding 10 people contradicted his client’s right to freedom of association, and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by Section 40 of the Constitution.
The lawyer added that the part of the conditions barring Kanu from granting press interviews constituted an infringement of the defendant’s right to freedom of expression provided under Section 39 of the Constitution.
His words, “Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as (amended) presume as innocent citizens charged with criminal offence until guilt is proved.
“Paragraph 2(vii) in the order, which stipulates that the first defendant/applicant cannot be seen in a crowd exceeding 10 people, contradicts the applicant’s right to freedom of association, and peaceful assembly granted by Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).
“Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as (amended) provides for citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and press.
“The bail conditions granted the first defendant/applicant, particularly conditions in paragraph 2(vii) and (viii) in the said order, clearly discriminated against the first defendant/applicant, and subjected him to certain disabilities and restrictions.”