…Counters IPOB boss’ request for variation of bail condition
The Federal Government has urged a Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail it granted leader of the pro-Biafra group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and return him to prison.
The government argued that Kanu has not only breached the conditions attached to the bail granted him on April 25 this year on health ground, he has allegedly conducted himself in manners that threaten public peace.
It cited Kanu’s alleged threat that elections would not hold in South East states until the Fed Govt conduct referendum on whether or not Biafra should secede and instances where the IPOB leader addressed crowd exceeding 10 and threatened civil disobedience, as against the court’s directive that he must not be seen in a crowd of over 10 people.
The government, in a counter-motion, dated August 1, 2017 filed by Magaji Labaran of the Federal Ministry of Justice, urged the court to dismiss an application by Kanu, seeking a review of the bail conditions.
It noted that not only had Kanu met the bail conditions and was enjoying the bail, it was an affront to the court’s authority for the IPOB leader to approach the court for the review of the bail conditions, having allegedly breached the conditions.
“The offence for which he (Kanu) is standing trial is not ordinarily bailable; the court, not withstanding, granted bail to the 1st defendant/applicant (Kanu) on health grounds on 25th April 2017.
“Among other conditions for the bail of the 1st defendant is that he should not be seen in a crowd exceeding 10 people; that he should not grant any interviews, hold or attend any rallies; that he should file, in court, medical updates of his health status every month. The bail conditions were perfected by the 1stdefendant/applicant, which he is currently enjoying.
“Rather than observing all the conditions listed above, the 1st defendant, in fragrant disobedience to the court order, flouted all conditions given by the court.
“The 1st defendant equally incited his members to disrupt, disallow and boycott elections in South East states, starting with Anambra State gubernatorial election scheduled for November 18 if the Federal Government failed to hold referendum for the realisation of the state of Biafra.
“The 1st defendant has already declared the bail conditions given by the court unconstitutional before approaching this court with the application for variation. Rather than showing remorse for his actions, the 1st defendant approached this court with an application for a review of the same conditions for the bail which he grossly flouted.
“Considering the above, that the 1st applicant has violated the conditions on which the terms of his bail were premised, we urged this court to commit the defendant to prison by invoking the provision of Section 173(2)(B) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“We categorically state that justice would have been denied the state by this court, if the state is not protected from the offences being perpetrated by the 1stdefendant/applicant, who is currently on bail,” the Fed Govt said.
Kanu and four other suspected IPOB members – Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi and Bright Chimezie – are being tried before the Federal High Court, Abuja on offences relating to conspiracy and treasonable felony.
More so, Kanu, who will be facing four out of the five amended charges, has declared his determination to get the charges quashed for being “grossly incompetent” and for “want of diligent prosecution”.
The IPOB leader, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, accused FG of violating an express order of the trial court that forbade any of the parties from filing any form of interlocutory application pending the commencement of full-blown trial of the defendants.
Ejiofor accused FG of deliberately stalling the case while fishing for evidence against the defendants.
According to him, rather than to open its case on June 22, FG, served an amended five-count charge on the defendants, “in clear breach and violation of an order the court made on April 25, 2017, wherein his Lordship warned, that the court will not entertain further interlocutory application or process capable of delaying the trial”.
He alleged that FG joined the 5th defendant, Chimezie, in the case after a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State had on May 24, not only ordered his immediate release from custody of the Department of State Service , DSS, but equally directed that he should be paid N5million as damages having been illegally detained for period that exceeded the constitutional provision.
Besides, the IPOB leader has filed a motion asking trial Justice Nyako to vary some of his bail conditions which he maintained were arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers under the aegis of Anambra State Lawyers in Defence of Democracy, ASLADD, have petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, asking him to commence a “high-powered clinical investigation into activities of the IPOB”.
The petitioners, while condemning IPOB’s position that governorship election will not hold in Anambra state on November 18 as scheduled, urged the AGF “to deploy all the instruments and powers of the Nigerian State” available to him, to tackle the IPOB.
The petition read in part: “The IPOB have taken a position that they would “boycott” the forthcoming Anambra 2017 elections. We do not have any problem with them on this position. However, our challenge with IPOB is their seeming inability to appreciate the meaning of the word “boycott” as it relates to Anambra election. We are worried that their mode of propagating their “No referendum, no election” mantra suggests that the word “boycott” has another meaning assigned to it in their own dictionary which is “disruption” of all legitimate activities of government and electioneering activities calculated at striking terror in the minds of the citizens who have made up their mind to discharge their civic duty on the 18th day of November, 2017.
“Sir, the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB are always quick to raise the green banner of “non-violence” and take refuge under its canopied ambience whereas their official dissemination channel, Radio Biafra, is a flowing river of hate-speeches, incitement to violence and war.
“Hate speech leads to war and war leads to deaths and, therefore, IPOB preaches violence. In the South-East [especially in Onitsha which is our commercial nerve centre], the IPOB miscreants extort money from traders after intimidating them. IPOB hoodlums illegally mount roadblocks to force other citizens to buy their Biafra flags and insignia not minding whether such citizens subscribe to their separatist ideology or whether such citizens have the money to pay for the said flags. They harass citizens and threaten them with violence.
“They intimidate them to close their shops. IPOB street urchins have on two remarkable occasions disrupted campaigns rallies and have most infamously invaded and desecrated St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State where the Governor was to worship [with their chants of no referendum, no election]. Indeed, they have a rich history of mischief.
“This is potentially dangerous. IPOB is exposing the Igbo to another war and this is unacceptable.
“As the Chief Law Officer of the country and the number one defender of our constitution and rule of law, you will agree with us that all these acts complained of [in their aggregate] rudely strike at the root of democracy and constitute a grave threat to the operation of the Nigerian Constitution in the Eastern part of Nigeria especially in Anambra State in view of the governorship election holding later in November. This has now crystallised to a weighty responsibility on your shoulders more so when these acts complained of mostly draw their inspiration from the activities of Nnamdi Kanu who has literally rumpled all the conditions to which his bail was tied and is now revelling in contempt of the Federal High Court with unprecedented and scandalous impunity.
“Speaking from the Bar, we are convinced that the security reports [on IPOB activities] from the security agencies in Anambra State [Onitsha in particular] cannot contradict these complaints we have tabled before you unless the commanders have not been alive to their responsibilities”.
ASLADD equally copied their petition dated August 14 to the United Nations Mission in Nigeria, Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria, The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, The European Union Mission to Nigeria, National Human Rights Commission, The Inspector-General of Police, The Defence Headquarters, The Director-General, State Security Service, The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, The Federal House of Representatives, South-East Governors Forum and Anambra Council of Traditional Rulers.