Parents, Ohanaeze, Afenifere reject bail conditions for Kanu
• Urge unconditional release of agitators
• Fayose, ex-minister in court to solidarise
The parents of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Eze Israel and Lolo Ugoeze Sally Kanu have rejected the bail terms given their son by the Federal High Court, Abuja. They described the hurdles as needless.
Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako yesterday granted the junior Kanu a reprieve in the sum of N100 million and three sureties with like sum each. The judge added that one of them must be a highly respected Jewish leader since he claimed Judaism as religion.
Also, another must be a senior and respected individual of Igbo extraction in the ranking of a senator while the third must be a revered citizen resident in Abuja with a proof of ownership of landed property.
But the senior Kanu, who is also the traditional ruler of Isiama Afaraukwu community in Umuahia North Local Council of Abia State, told reporters in the state capital that the bail was akin to giving something with one hand and taking it back with the other. He, therefore, asked for the unconditional release of his son.
Corroborating her husband, Lolo Ugoeze hinted that upon his return, Kanu would not be advised to drop the agitation. They said: “The Federal Government should release our son unconditionally. The world should judge if the bail conditions granted by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako are proper.”
In the same vein, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo expressed reservations over the development, saying it would challenge the bail terms.
Its president-general, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr) told The Guardian that “the conditions are unconstitutional, inhuman and gagging. It is a plot to deny Kanu his fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and association. It is unacceptable to us. It is a trap by government to re-arrest him soon. It is a pyrrhic victory that deserves no celebration. If the conditions are not reversed, Ohanaeze will challenge them in court. Kanu deserves unconditional bail, because he has not committed any non-bailable offence.”
To the spokesman of the Yoruba socio-cultural body, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, the terms were mere formalities since, according to him, it was near impossible for him to meet them.
“This is the first time in the history of this country a Nigerian would be asked to go and bring an international guarantor to meet his bail conditions. I am not sure the court or the government is ready to grant Kanu bail. What happened in the court yesterday was a mere propaganda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration,” he said.
The National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, said government deliberately escalated the case because the young man has the fundamental rights to agitate.
He warned the judiciary against being manipulated, saying: “Nigeria is no longer under military rule.” Also yesterday, a pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation (NGO), Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), asked government to terminate the trial, faulting the judge for giving what it termed “seemingly unconstitutional demands” as bail conditions.
In a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, they wondered why the court on one hand could grant bail on health grounds but on the other, imposed “seemingly unattainable and unconstitutional conditions for enjoying the bail.”
The right group charged President Muhammadu Buhari to release unconditionally all political detainees. Meanwhile, Kanu’s co-accused were denied bail on the ground that the charges preferred against them were grievous. The judge also refused to grant their second motion which prayed the court to review its earlier ruling on protection of witnesses.
But Justice Murtala-Nyako, who held that the reprieve was to enable Kanu to attend to his health challenges, said she was convinced that the ailment was one that needed serious medical attention contrary to provisions by prison authorities.
It was jubilation galore among agitators, kinsmen and women as well as friends and sympathisers of the IPOB leader. According to a MASSOB chieftain, Comrade Uchenna Madu, “we know that freedom can never be achieved on a platter of gold. MASSOB also demands the release of other pro-Biafra detainees in other prisons in Onitsha, Awka prisons and others.”
The Guardian learnt that Kanu may not leave the prisons unless other agitators held with him are freed. The Secretary of the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, said yesterday in Enugu: “I want to tell you that Kanu just called me and said that he will not leave the prisons unless other agitators held in the same facility with him are granted bail. He insisted that abandoning these people is betrayal because they are all there because of him. The truth is that he is not worried about his bail conditions but wants those agitators in the same gaol to be released with him.”
Present in court to show solidarity were Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose and former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka as well as a multitude of IPOB members. The governor said he graced the event to solidarise with the defendants in the “face of intimidation in the country which belongs to all Nigerians.”