The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, fixed April 25, 2017 for ruling on the bail applications brought by the counsel to the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and three others facing trial on six count charges.
The court also fixed April 6, 2017 to rule on Kanu’s fresh application who is seeking to vary an earlier court order on witness protection.
Counsel to the first defendant, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor held that since the allegations bothering on treasonable felony and criminal conspiracy has been struck out on the last adjourned date, Kanu no longer constitutes security risk; hence, the need to grant him bail is paramount.
In support of the motion, Ejiofor told the court the bail earlier granted by another court of same jurisdiction was attached including a letter sent to Comptroller General of Nigerian Prisons over deteriorating health conditions of Kanu.
He further said that the accused person who is an internationally recognised person with no criminal record will not jump bail so long there would be provision for a guarantor.
Counsel to the second defendant, Barrister Udoka however sighted several authorities and related cases where bail was granted to accused persons in their course of trial. He also objected the paragraph 3 of a counter affidavit filed by the Federal Government wherein the prosecution stated that it is in the interest of the accused person to remain in prison custody.
He pointed out that he was barred from seeing his client in prison by agents of the Department of State Service (DSS) who could have acted on the directive of the prosecution since such orders did not emanate from the court, sensing it is a plot to kill the defendants.
In line with the argument for bail, the 4th Defence counsel, Barrister Maxwell Okpara commended the court for striking out six charges preferred against the defendant in the last adjourned date, an act which is commended by the whole world, and further held that the confiscation of the accused persons in prison custody is of more threat to National Security than releasing them.
Reacting to the arguments of the defence counsel, the Federal Government counsel, Mr. Labaram Shuaibu objected to the bail applications. He observed that the charges were predicated on extant Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and therefore asked the court to refuse the bail applications, stating that the constant delay in the prosecution of this case is predicated on the constant interlocutory applications from the 1st to 4th Defence counsels.
In his response to the Federal Government arguments, Ejiofor noted that an order made by Justice Adeniyi Ademola is yet to be obeyed after stating that an order of the court is law.
The trial Judge, Justice BInta Nyako however said that the bail applications do not stall the trial of the accused persons who will still be tried based on her order which is predicated on the protection and shielding of witnesses.
“Nothing can change my order in the protection of the witnesses,” she added.
The judge questioned if Ejiofor studied a part of the Sharia Law in the course of his study, stating that if he had done so, he would have learned more about witness protection, and also would have known that a woman’s identity is protected in court in the context of the Sharia law.
She further held that the witnesses will wear mask and must not be facially identified if body movements want to be taken into consideration by members of the public, else, the court will divide itself with a non-transparent material against public view. And so long the witnesses are security agents, their identities would be protected for the sake of the future, while non-security agents will be seen by members of the public.
“I am not ready to jeopardise the protection of the security operatives,” she added.
The judge however adjourned till April 6, 2017 for the review of the order on witness protection and April 25, 2017 for ruling on the bail application.