Jubilation as Kanu regains freedom
Kanu, Igbo, Biafran agitators must learn from this — Chekwas Okorie
By Emeka Mamah, Clifford Ndujihe, Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – EXACTLY 563 days after his arrest and detention, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, regained his freedom around 6:40pm, yesterday, after he perfected all the bail conditions handed to him by trial Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Kanu, who arrived the high court premises around 6:20pm in a black Toyota jeep with registration number ABC-46-MU, was formally released to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; a Jewish High Chief Priest, Immanuu-El Shalom and a Chartered Accountant residing in Abuja, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu, the three sureties who signed his bail bond. Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor and the three sureties were at the high court registry earlier in the day to sign the necessary bail documents.
However, in line with an order of the Judge, the IPOB leader was brought back to the court from Kuje prison to sign an undertaken that he would be available to answer to the five-count charge the Federal Government entered against him.
Immediately he was formally released by the prison officials, Kanu was received by a jubilant crowd including his relatives. Some people struggled to take photographs with him at the court premises.
“I feel good that at the end of the day we were able to effect his release from incarceration and we believe that going forward, we will be able to properly address and resolve issues behind his agitation”, Senator Abaribe told newsmen.
Kanu, who had been in detention since October 14, 2015, secured bail from the high court on April 25.
Justice Binta Nyako said her decision to release Kanu who is the 1st defendant before the court, on bail, was based on health grounds.
She cited an affidavit that was attached to the bail application Kanu filed through his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
Specifically, the court held that Kanu must produce three sureties, including a “highly respected and recognised jewish leader.”
According to the court, aside a jewish leader, Kanu must also produce a “highly placed person of Igbo extraction”, as well as “a highly respected person who is resident and owns landed property in Abuja”. Each of the sureties must deposit N100million.
Justice Nyako had in the course of the ruling, asked Kanu to tell the court the religion he believes in, considering that one of the bail conditions would include his production of a highly placed religious leader.
“My lord I believe in Judaism”, Kanu replied from the dock. So you are a Jew then?”, the Judge queried. “Yes I am a Jew”, Kanu maintained.
“Good. In that case, one of the sureties must be a highly respected and recognised Jewish leader,’’ Justice Nyako added.
As part of his conditions for bail, Kanu, was expressly barred by the court from attending any rally or granting any form of interview.
“I must stress it here that the defendant must not attend any rally. He must not be in a crowd exceeding 10 persons”, the Judge warned.
Justice Nyako equally held that Kanu who was arrested by security operatives upon his arrival to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, must sign an undertaken to make himself available for trial at all times.
Kanu was ordered to surrender his Nigerian and British international passports, even as the court compelled the Federal Government to return to him, his wedding ring and reading glasses.
However, Kanu’s co-defendants, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, were denied bail by the court which described the charges against them as “very serious”.
Justice Nyako said the fact that she earlier struck out terrorism charges the Federal Government slammed against the defendants did not water-down the seriousness of the treason charge against them.
How Kanu met bail conditions
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard after signing the bail bond, Senator Abaribe said as the representative of the people, he would always come to their rescue in time of need even as he advised them not to sacrifice their lives in whatever agitations they are embarking upon. “I came here to sign the bail bond for Nnamdi Kanu. You recall that one of the conditions for his bail is that a Senator will have to sign for him and that is why I am here. I just signed the bail bond,” he said.
In his message to youths from South East, Senator Abaribe said: “What I am telling the youths from the South East is that they don’t need to sacrifice their lives for any agitation they are doing. We will support their decisions, we will also in some way be alive to our responsibilities as those who are representing them at the National Assembly and the larger national polity of Nigeria. They should have trust that we have their interest at heart.”
Also speaking, Tochukwu Uchendu, an Accountant and an entrepreneur said that he was optimistic that after fulfilling the bail conditions, the IPOB leader would be released.
“We are here to sign a bail bond for Nnamdi Kanu and I have signed. The cost of freedom is high, but the important thing is that the condition is being met, that is what is important. People have offered to secure his freedom. We are working to ensure his release today.”
Another person and a Jewish High Chief Priest, Immanuel-El Shalom Oka-Ben Madu, who also signed the bail bond said, “I am here because there was a message across to bail my younger brother. As a religious organisation leader, they requested my attention that is why I am here. I am a Jewish man. I have fulfilled the bail process. By Yahweh’s grace I believe he will be released as soon as possible because nothing is more than our creator in heaven.”
Roles played by South-East Senate caucus
Saturday Vanguard reliably gathered that the South-East Caucus of the Senate, met on Thursday and agreed to bail the IPOB leader.
At an emergency meeting held at the Apo Quarters residence of Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, sources said the lawmakers discussed the stringent bail conditions granted Kanu by Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday.
Said the source: “First, the Caucus agreed to work as a team to secure Kanu’s release. It was agreed that the leader of the Caucus and Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe or the Senator representing the IPOD leader’s Abia Central Senatorial District, Senator Theodore Orji, should take him on bail.”
The source said that the South East Senate Caucus had also made contact with Nnamdi’s lawyers on the decision to ensure that his bail is perfected. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, and the Eastern Consultative Assembly,ECA, expressed excitement over Kanu’s release from prisons after perfecting his bail conditions saying that it was a good step forward. They however, asked the Federal Government to drop the charges against Kanu.
President General of Ohanaeze and Founder of IYM, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko spoke during separate telephone interviews while reacting to Kanu’s release, last night.
Nwodo said: “Although it is just a bail, we are very excited. We hope they will ultimately drop the charges against Kanu and other members of IPOB. We are indeed happy that he was able to meet the stringent conditions.”
Ugochukwu- Uko said: “We thank all those who signed the bail forms for Nnamdi Kanu. They have written their names in gold. We particularly commend Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuchi who allowed Kanu to leave them behind in prison. They asked Kanu to step out and we commend them for their sagacity and nobility.
Also, in her reaction, the Deputy Leader of Eastern Consultative Association, ECA, Chief (Mrs) Marie Okwo, also thanked God that Kanu would now enjoy some air of freedom after long incarceration in jail and asked the Federal Government to release the rest of IPOB members being tried along with him.
These are the worst bail conditions ever given in Nigeria Chekwas Okorie Speaking on the issue yesterday, National Chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said he is happy over Kanu’s freedom but lamented that the bail conditions were unprecedented and the worst ever in the history of the country.
He also said Biafra agitators, who ask Igbo people to boycott elections and other civic activities in Nigeria must learn from the episode because it would have been difficult to meet the stringent bail conditions without Igbo senators like Abaribe.
His words: ‘’I am very excited about Kanu’s freedom from incarceration but the bail conditions are the most wicked, obnoxious and stringent that we have ever had in the history of Nigeria. I thank all those who rose to meet the bail conditions. The Igbo and those agitating for Biafra have a lesson to learn from the episode. The struggle for Biafra is for all- the politician, businessman, civil servant and religious are all important. Some people used Radio Biafra to canvass that Igbo people should boycott elections.
If Igbo people boycotted the elections how would they have filled the gap that Senator Abaribe filled?’’
His release is long over due – Ankio-Briggs Human Rights Activist, Mrs Ankio-Briggs, said Kanu’s freedom is long overdue and hoped that there are not behind the scene moves to re-arrest Kanu because saying that he must not be with more than 10 persons at a time is a landmine.
She said: ‘’Kanu’s release is long over due because his matter went up to the ECOWAS court, a lot of judges gave orders that he should be released but the government disobeyed the orders. His release should be the beginning of this government obeying court orders and the Judiciary living up to the elevation the common man placed it.
‘’I hope there is no behind the scene plan to rearrest Nnamdi Kanu. We must be alert to tell them that, that cannot be accepted. The case should begin, there are three other people with Kanu that should be bailed. I am proud of Kanu as a leader of his people because of his insistence that those detained with him should be released and glad to know that those people prevailed on him to accept the freedom. There are many prisoners of conscience in Nigeria. We must begin to agitate that they must be released.’’