The FederalHigh Court in Abuja has fixed April 25 to decide whether or not the detainedleader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, should bereleased on bail pending his trial.
TrialJustice Binta Nyako equally adjourned to rule on separate bail applications bythree other pro-Biafra agitators, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu andDavid Nwawuisi, who are facing trial with Kanu.
The defendants who are answering to five-countcriminal charge the Federal Government preferred against them, through theirrespective lawyers, prayed the court to grant them bail.
Theycontended that all the allegations FG leveled against them were bailableoffences.
Kanu’slawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, stressed that the court had in a ruling on March1, struck out six out of eleven count charges FG initially slammed against thedefendants.
He notedthat charges that were struck out by the court bordered on criminal conspiracyand alleged involvement of the defendants in acts of terrorism.
According toEjiofor, that aspect of the charge having been expunged by the court, there wasno basis for both Kanu and the other defendants to still remain in prisoncustody.
His argumentwas adopted by counsel to all the other defendants, who maintained that goingby the pending charges, they no longer posed security threat to warrant theircontinued detention. Meantime, Justice Nyako also fixed April 6 to determinemerit of application by the defendants, asking her to vary the order that gaveFG the nod to shield identities of all the witnesses billed to testify againstthem.
The trialJudge not only okayed the witnesses to testify behind a screen, she alsogranted an order permitting them to use pseudo names.
Though thecourt agreed to mask the witnesses from the public, it held that the defendantsand their lawyers would be allowed to see them.
Dissatisfiedwith the decision, all the defendants applied for a review of the ruling,saying they would not submit themselves to any form of secret trial.
Kanu hadinsisted that he would want the public and members of the press to be allowed tosee faces of those testifying against him saying “I was accused in public and Imust be tried in public. No one can try me in secret! No secret trial! I willnot accept that, no way!”, Kanu bellowed from the dock at the last adjourneddate.
It will berecalled that Justice Nyako struck out six charges against the defendants onthe premise that they were not supported by the proof of evidence FG adducedagainst them.
The Judgeheld that none of the six charges established a prima-facie criminal caseagainst any of the defendants.
She said thefact that IPOB was not an organisation registered in Nigeria did not make it anillegal society.
“It may betrue that IPOB is not registered in Nigeria, but does that make it an illegalorganisation”, the Judge queried. Whereas the court branded some of theterminated charges as “hollow” and “scanty”, it however sustained five chargesagainst the defendants.