The vacation judge of Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on Wednesday, admitted to bail 10 alleged members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who have been in detention since February 2.
In a ruling yesterday the judge dismissed a five-paragraphed affidavit the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), filed for the Defendants/Applicants to remain in prison custody.
The AGF had in the affidavit dated June 19, maintained that charges against the Defendants- Charles Okpo, Uchechukwu James, Azunna Nwankwo, Otobong Davies, Paul Mgboo, Anya Arosi, Onyemuche Omesu, Jeremiah Okora, Emmanuel Nnanna and Ikechukwu John- bordered on acts of terrorism.
Specifically, the Defendants who are all from Umuchiakuma Ikhechiowa in Arochukwu Local Government Local Government Area of Abia State, were in a three-count charge before the court, alleged to have on January 4, conspired with others at large and committed an act of terrorism, by setting houses belonging to one Princess Ikodiya Otta and one Chief Michael Ikpe, on fire.
When the matter was called up for hearing, counsel to the Defendants, Chief Ibe Igwe, said he filed a motion pursuant to section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, praying the court to release the Defendants on bail pending the determination of the charge against them.
The Defence lawyer told the court that contrary to allegations in the charge, he said the Defendants were arrested at their village football field, and subsequently transferred to office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The Defence attached as an exhibit, a petition that members of Ihechiowa community wrote to the Inspector General of Police concerning the murder.
Meantime, the AGF who was represented by Mrs. Judith Obatomi, urged the court to deny bail to the defendants who were on June 6, transferred to Kuje Prisons on the order of Justice Binta Nyako.
The AGF contended that the charge against the Defendants is punishable with death upon conviction.
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba held that the charge against the defendants contained bailable offences.
The Judge stressed that the essence of bail is to ensure the attendance of a defendant to trial.
Consequently, he granted each of the Defendants bail to the sum of N5 million with one surety.
The court held that the surety must be a Civil Servant in federal employment not below grade level 14.
Alternatively, the court held that the surety could be a business man that owns a landed property in Abuja that is worth the bail sum.
The defendants were ordered to surrender their travel documents to the court.
The case was adjourned till October 18 for trial.