A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday denied bail to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and founder of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and his two other co-accused.
Kanu, David Nwawusi and Benjamin Madubugwu are being prosecuted on six counts of treasonable felony, unlawful possession of firearms and other offences bordering on their agitation for secession of the Republic of Biafra from Nigeria.
Justice John Tsoho, in rejecting the accused persons’ bail application on Friday, held that they were not entitled to bail as they failed to challenge the allegation by the prosecution that they would not continue to commit the alleged crime for which they were being prosecuted if granted bail.
Earlier before the ruling was delivered on Friday, the lawyer, who had on January 25, 2016 argued the bail application on behalf of the accused persons, Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN), withdrew from the case, following a handwritten letter sent to Justice Tsoho by Kanu from his custody in Kuje Prison.
The content of the letter, dated January 26, 2016, which was addressed before the judge proceeded to deliver the ruling on the bail application on Friday, informed the judge that he had not instructed Udechukwu to represent him.
Udechukwu, who, however, claimed that he was instructed to handle the case, promptly withdrew from the case and handed over to Mr. Chuks Mouoma (SAN) and Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, whom Kanu indicated as his preferred lawyers in his letter.
Justice Tsoho had earlier noted that there was no objection to his being represented by Udechukwu during the hearing of the application on January 25.
Meanwhile, the judge in his ruling upheld the contention by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Mohammed Diri, who had opposed the bail application, to the effect that the accused were likely to interfere with and intimidate prosecuting witnesses.
The judge also ruled that contrary to the contention by defence lawyers, the charge of treasonable felony, which attracts life imprisonment on conviction, are serious ones as held by the Supreme Court in Federal Government’s case against Asari Dokubo.
He also held that the charges filed by the Federal Government were not trumped-up as contended by the defence.
He held that the defence failed to contradict the exhibits tendered by the prosecution in opposing the bail application to the effect that the accused were likely to constitute “threats to the peace and tranquility of the country.”
He ruled that rather than contradict the allegation with a rebuttal, the applicants chose to “maintain that they are within their right to agitate for self-determination.”
“In my view, this does not contradict the allegation. It is trite that an allegation not challenged is deemed admitted,” the judge held.
He also rejected the defence’s contention that the continued arrest since October 14, 2015, violated his rights under section 35.
The judge also ruled that Kanu’s admission that he was a dual citizen of Nigeria and Britain further “heightened the possibility of him jumping bail.”
The judge ruled that rather than grant bail to the accused persons, he would order an accelerated hearing of the case with the possibility of hearing it on daily basis.
“It is my candid opinion that the three defendants are not entitled to bail. Accordingly, they are to be detained in prison pending their trial,” the judge ruled.
He adjourned till February 9, 10, 11 and 12 for trial.
Kanu was in the custody of the Department of State Service since his arrest in a Lagos hotel on October 14, 2015 till January 20, 2016, when he was transferred to prison by an order of Justice Tsoho, shortly after he was arraigned along with two others.