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Nnamdi Kanu: Denial of bail is an abuse of judicial discretion


“Kanu… there has been nothing to support the allegation of treasonable felony. In fact, Nigerians got to hear the real case against Kanu from the President’s media chat… Kanu had some equipment, which the government believes is for radio transmission… two international passports.” – Ugwuonye

Amidst the professional silence that the Kanu’s case has received from the Nigerian Bar, two prominent lawyers have finally come out to speak on the case. Their position is that the denial of bail in that case is unreasonable and not supported by judicial precedence or international standards. Thus it is an abuse of discretion. I concur with that view in its entirety.

As I stated elsewhere, right from the inception, Kanu’s case was driven by state hatred and malice, coupled with repeated blunders and obsessive dispositions toward the idea of Biafra. Nigerian government will arrest a goat if they think that it has bleated the word “Biafra”. 

And the government will find a judge that will deny the goat bail. That is really how backward the thinking and approach of government is on the issue of Biafra. The wanton killings of civilian protesters confirm that terrible obsession.

There was no compelling reason to deny Kanu bail, after all that happened in the case. It is not surprising that the Judge in question is the Honourable Justice John Tsoho. He is about one of the most conservative judges on Nigerian bench today. He will do anything that the government asks for or which he wishes is the desire of government.

A judge knows that the decision on bail would be determined not just by the offense charged, but more by the proof of evidence presented. Otherwise, the state can always charge a person with murder without any supporting evidence, just to ensure that he would be denied bail. This has become the preoccupation of the Nigeria prosecutors because they know that trials take years to conclude.

In the case of Kanu, there has been nothing to support the allegation of treasonable felony. In fact, Nigerians got to hear the real case against Kanu from the President’s media chat on December 31, 2015. Kanu had some equipment, which the government believes is for radio transmission. He also alleged to have had two international passports and entered Nigeria without using any of them. 

These are really not sufficient to sustain the charge of treasonable felony and certainly not sufficient to justify the denial of bail. But Justice Tsoho is the wrong judge for this kind of case, given his timidity and conservative dispositions. It is also to be noted that Justice Tsoho just got transferred from Lagos Federal High Court to the Abuja Federal High Court. Kanu’s case is probably among the first cases he is to be handling in Abuja after his transfer.

Equally important here is the fact that the President of Nigeria had in his media chat sent a coded message to all Nigerian judges that they should deny Kanu bail. This is a fact that seems not to have been fully exploited by Kanu’s lawyers so far. Yet, it is a decisive factor. The President had sent in motion a process intended to deny Kanu due process, and that process is yielding expected fruits to the government, with Justice Tsoho as the harvester of those fruits.

Given the continued killings of civilians who merely protest for Kanu’s release, Nigerian Government is increasingly facing a serious crisis. It cannot continue the charade that is going on in this case.

Emeka Ugwuonye

Biafra: NBA chiefs speak against Kanu’s bail denial [Vanguard]

*Say he did not commit offence against known Nigerian law

 By Nwabueze Okonkwo

Two legal giants based in Onitsha, Anambra state, Ben Okoko, chairman of Idemili branch of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and Chris Adimora, chairman of Anaocha branch of NBA have vehemently condemned the denial of bail to the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu. 

Detained leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu in court. 

They said that as far as they were concerned, Kanu did not commit any offence against any known Nigerian law to have warranted his bail denial and continued detention in the prison custody. 

According to Adimora who spoke in an interview with newsmen in his office, yesterday, “the reasons adduced by the prosecution for refusing Kanu bail is not tenable. 

“He did not commit any offence by having dual citizenship. He can’t be refused bail because his charges are still mere allegation which are not yet proven”. 

“As far as I know, he continued, Kanu did not commit any offence. They were just fishing for evidence to keep him in jail until they came up with this trump up charge of treasonable felony”. 

“That he opened a radio station in a British air wave is not an offence in Nigeria. That he called President Muhammadu Buhari names does not amount to treasonable felon but mere agitation.

“He is only expressing and speaking the minds of millions of marginalized Biafrans and that does not amount to treasonable felony as the court states”. 

Adimora further declared: “I hope they will be gentlemanly enough to produce evidence against him during the trial. 

“The state is not sincere with its citizens or else why did they not bring up all his charges at the initial stage. 

“This treasonable felony charge was brought up on a second thought, after they fail to prove the initial terrorism charge against him, which led to court granting him bail”. 

“In summary, he further stated, I must state that the court denied him bail based on the same reason adduced by Buhari during his media chat that Kanu is a dual citizen and we were not surprised that the court eventually came up with the same issue as one of the reasons that led to his bail denial. 

“They are just looking for a charge against him. They used coercive power of state to intimidate him”. 

“If James Ibori could be convicted in far away London and thrown into jail because of the offence he committed in Nigeria, courtesy of the extradition treaty existing between Nigeria and Britain, why can’t Britain extradite Kanu or even try him in Britain if he is granted bail in Nigeria and he jumps it and escaped to Britain”?, he asked rhetorically.

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