Ade Adesomoju and Gbenro Adeoye
The Federal Government may ask the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail granted to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, on grounds of alleged breach of the conditions of the bail granted him in April, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
Top sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice, the body prosecuting the IPOB leader, told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity because they had no authority to speak to journalists on the matter, that alleged breaches of the bail conditions by Kanu were being noted.
They said the prosecuting authorities were taking records of the alleged breaches, reviewing them and would take “the necessary step at the appropriate time.”
Part of the major conditions of the bail which Justice Binta Nyako had granted Kanu on April 25, 2017, included prohibition from granting press interview.
The judge also barred Kanu from participating in any rally and warned that he should never be found in any crowd of more than 10 persons.
One of the sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja, said although without going into details, “Kanu had been found to have flouted some of the conditions (he was given).”
The source added, “We are taking note of his conducts which were in breach of the conditions of the bail granted him.
“We are reviewing them and we will take the necessary action at the appropriate time.”
When asked if part of “the necessary steps” would be to ask for the revocation of the bail, the source said “of course, the consequence of any breach of bail conditions is the revocation of the bail.”
When pressed to give details of the noticed breaches, one of the sources said, “It will not be appropriate to reveal the details now.
“But anybody who has been following the events would clearly see the breaches.”
The trial resumes on July 11.
Although, his co-accused had also filed separate bail applications, Kanu was the only one granted bail, among the four defendants standing trial on charges bordering on Biafra agitation.
The other accused persons charged along with Kanu were the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu, and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the MTN, David Nwawuisi.
After the judge struck out six out of the 11 counts preferred against the defendants on March 1, 2017, the defendants were left with five charges.
The charges 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.
Among the charges was also publication of defamatory matter by allegedly referring to the then President-elect, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and now President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as “a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot, and an embodiment of evil” in a broadcast on Radio Biafra on April 28, 2015.
Justice Nyako had after the case was transferred to her denied bail to all the four defendants.
But they filed their bail applications again after part of the charges preferred against them were struck out by the court.
In her ruling on April 25, 2017, Justice Nyako only granted bail on health grounds to Kanu, who had been in detention since 2015.
The judge, however, barred the IPOB leader from granting press interview while on bail.
The judge also gave a stern warning to the defendant not to participate in any rally or be found in a crowd of more than 10 persons in the course of the bail.
She ordered Kanu to submit to the court monthly reports on his health status while on bail.
Justice Nyako noted that she had observed that Kanu always had to sit down in the dock whenever he appeared in court, a development which she said could be an indication that he was suffering from an ailment that could not be treated in prison.
She therefore granted bail in the sum of N100m with three sureties in like sum.
Kanu has been receiving visitors since his release from Kuje Prison, where he had spent 18 months in detention.
Last weekend, Kanu had addressed a crowd of supporters, who were more than 10, at his father’s palace in Abia State as his father is the traditional ruler of Isiama Afara community in the state.
Three days later, Al Jazeera published an interview where Kanu was quoted as describing his bail conditions as too stringent and saying, “I don’t care”, when asked if the interview could put him in trouble.
“It’s like asking me not to breathe. I can’t go outside to call for a press conference. I can’t go on Biafra Radio to broadcast. I can’t allow large groups of people to basically congregate outside to see me,” he had reportedly added.
The IPOB leader had also declared a sit-at-home campaign in the South-East on Tuesday to protest against alleged marginalisation of the region by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, a group, South-East Peoples Assembly, in a letter signed by its President, Prince Chukwuemeka Okorie, had on Wednesday, asked the court to revoke Kanu’s bail for violating its conditions.
Some bail conditions unconstitutional, says Kanu’s lawyer
When contacted on Friday, Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said it was not for the prosecution to determine whether or not his client had violated the bail conditions.
Ejiofor said it was the exclusive responsibility of the court to decide whether or not the bail conditions had been violated. He, however, added that some of the conditions the defendant was being touted to have violated were unconstitutional.
He promised to file an application to set aside the “unconstitutional” bail conditions.
Ejiofor said, “It doesn’t lie in their power to determine whether he has breached the bail conditions or not.
“The court gave the bail on supplementary and other main terms. The court knows the terms on which it granted the bail.
“I have been able to clarify this issue – the fact that the court said he cannot be found in the crowd of more than 10 persons does not mean he cannot go to church; it does not mean he cannot entertain visitors in his house.
“It is on that note that we are going to file an application to vacate those terms.
“I can tell you that the court is fully aware that he would attend church and he would receive family members.
“These are his rights under the fundamental human rights in Chapter 4 of the Constitution.”
Reacting to allegations of his client granting press interviews in breach of his bail conditions, Ejiofor said, “Freedom of expression is part of the rights he (Kanu) is entitled to under the Constitution.
“We are filing an application before the court to set aside the terms that are clearly in violation of the Constitution.” ”(Punch)