May 20, 2024

Court rejects Nnamdi Kanu’s fresh bail request

Nnamdi Kanu

File image of Nnamdi Kanu in court.

….declines to transfer him out of DSS’ custody

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed a fresh application the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, filed to be released on bail, pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against him.

The court, in the ruling that was delivered by trial Justice Binta Nyako, said it was not minded to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant, whom it said jumped the bail it earlier granted him.

Justice Nyako noted that those who stood surety for the defendant had, after he escaped from the country, approached the court and applied to be discharged from the case.

She held that the sureties, in their applications, claimed that they were not aware of the whereabouts of the defendant, a situation that forced the court to order the forfeiture of their N100 million bail bonds.

According to the trial court, the issue is currently pending before the Court of Appeal.

It held that having refused Kanu’s request for bail on several occasions, the only option available to him was to take the matter before the appellate court.

Likewise, the court refused Kanu’s request to be either transferred to prison custody or placed on house arrest.

However, it ordered the Department of State Services, DSS, to always grant Kanu access to his team of lawyers, not exceeding five persons on every visiting day.

It ordered that Kanu must be given “a clean place” to consult with his lawyers at the DSS detention facility, adding that he must be granted access to a doctor of his choice. 

Justice Nyako warned that any attempt by Kanu’s legal team to file similar applications before the court would be regarded as a gross abuse of the judicial process. 

“You have an option of appeal; please exercise your right of appeal,” the trial judge added.

It will be recalled that Kanu was first arrested in Lagos on October 14, 2015, upon his return to the country from the United Kingdom.

Justice Nyako had on April 25, 2017, granted him bail on health grounds after he had spent about 18 months in detention.

Upon the perfection of the bail conditions, he was on April 28, 2017, released from the Kuje prison. 

However, midway into the trial, the IPOB leader escaped from the country after soldiers invaded his country home at Afara Ukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, an operation that led to the deaths of some of his followers.

Kanu was later re-arrested in Kenya on June 19, 2021, and extraordinarily renditioned back to the country by security agents on June 27, 2021.

Following the development, the trial court, on June 29, 2021, remanded him in custody of DSS, where he remained till date. 

On April 8, 2022, the court struck out eight out of the 15-count charges that FG preferred against him on the premise that they lacked substance. 

Likewise, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu’s immediate release from detention even as it quashed the charge against him.

The appellate court said it was satisfied that FG flagrantly violated all known laws when it forcefully rendered Kanu from Kenya to the country for the continuation of his trial.

It held that such arbitrary use of power by the Nigerian government divested the trial court of jurisdiction to further try the appellant.

Dissatisfied with the decision, FG took the matter before the Supreme Court, even as it persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgment, pending the determination of its appeal.

While deciding the appeal, the Supreme Court, on December 15, 2023, vacated the judgment of the appellate court and gave FG the nod to try the IPOB leader on the subsisting seven-count charge.