A request by the Nigerian government seeking the revocation of the pro-Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s bail, is “misconceived”, his lawyer has said.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Friday demanded the revocationof Mr. Kanu’s bail which was granted the defendant in April. The application which was based on 12 grounds of appeal, followed an allegation by the AGF that Mr. Kanu exhibited flagrant disobedience of court orders on his bail conditions.
“Among other conditions for the bail of the 1st defendant are as follows: “That he should not be seen in a crowd exceeding 10 people,” Mr. Malami said in a statement.
“That he should not grant any press interviews, hold or attend any rallies. And that he should file in court medical updates of his health status every month.
“Rather than observing all the conditions, the 1st defendant/respondent in flagrant disobedience to the court order flouted all conditions given by the court. The first defendant has in furtherance to the offence he was charged, inaugurated Biafra Security Service, ” the statement said.
In a reaction to the application, however, Mr. Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that his client had “successfully challenged the bail conditions referred to by the government”.
“Though we intend to file a formal response to their most misconceived motion, it is my position that it does not lie in the power of the AG to ask for the revocation of the bail granted to my client. The prosecution can’t be seen at the same time as the persecutors.
“We have successfully challenged the bail terms we considered offensive to our clients constitutionally guaranteed rights. So their recent application is belated.
“Section 169 of the ACJA being relied upon by the AG can’t avail the Attorney General absolute power to ask for the revocation of bail. Parties must be heard on the merit by the court, ” Mr. Ejiofor said.
Mr. Ejiofor also said the alleged security outfit created by Mr. Kanu is a “mere group” formed in the exercise of the citizen’s constitutional right.
He added that the group cannot “by any stretch of the imagination” constitute themselves into a security threat. “Let the federal government open their case if they have any genuine charge against my client. They are beating about the bush because they have no case against my client,” Mr. Ejiofor said.
Mr. Ejiofor further said the bail granted his client should be viewed in terms of its essence to ensure attendance at court hearings. “Let me remind the public that the main essence of bail is to ensure that the person affected stands his trial and nothing more. “Our client is ready to stand his trial but the federal government is not willing to open their case, they are rather interested in keeping my client behind bars which can’t happen again”.
The application filed by Mr. Malami was pursuant to sections 169 and 173 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
According to section 169 of the ACJA, the AGF is empowered to make the said demand, in the event where: “circumstances arise which in the opinion of the AGF would justify the court cancelling the bail. “Where a defendant has been admitted to bail and circumstances arise which in the opinion of the AGF would justify the court in canceling the bail, or requiring a greater amount: a court may on application being made by the Attorney General of the Federation, issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant and after giving the defendant an opportunity of being heard, may commit him to prison to await trial, or admit him to bail for the same amount”.
In section 173, the court of law is exclusively empowered to act in a similar circumstance.
Section 173: subsection (2) states thus: “the court may, where circumstances appear just (a) vary the order of release of the defendant at any subsequent hearing: (b) at any subsequent stage of the proceedings cause a defendant who has been released on bail to be arrested and committed to prison custody , provided that the judge shall state in his proceedings the reason for the variation of the condition or commit a of the defendant”.
Part of the allegations against Mr. Kanu includes making separatist comments and inciting Igbo natives to refrain from exercising their rights to vote.
Mr. Kanu also spearheaded a sit-at-home protest in the Southeast region on May 30, after he was released.