Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed disappointment and utter dissatisfaction with the refusal of the presiding judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Binta Nyako to exercise her constitutionally permitted discretionary power to grant bail to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu few days after President Muhammadu Buhari said Kanu wouldn’t be granted bail.
HURIWA expressed dismayed that the judge did not even make reference to that extrajudicial comments of the head of another arm of government, Buhari, that the first defendant in a suit between the Federal Government and a citizen, Kanu would not be granted bail but proceeded to do exactly as stated Buhari as if to say that the judiciary is subservient to the executive arm of government.
HURIWA in a statement issued by its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Tuesday, appealed to the judiciary to safeguard her independence to avoid encouraging Nigerians to resort to self help measure if they perceive that the judiciary does the bidding and execute the scripts authored by politicians in the office of President.
The rights group, which hinged its statement o the reported rejection of the bail application filed by Nnamdi Kanu who has spent a year in pre-trial detention with the Department of State Services (DSS), said it was disturbing Buhari who instituted the matter against Kanu and his organisation, seems to be adopting underhand tactics to cajole another independent arm of government-the judiciary to do her bidding as against the clear provisions of the Constitution on separation of powers as provided for in Sections 4, 5 send 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
Besides, HURIWA said it is unclear why a citizen would spend a year in prison whilst undergoing trial for charges that the Federal Government has not adduced irrefutable proofs but there are top government officials who looted public treasury to the tune of nearly N200 billion per person which endangers national security but such alleged ‘thieves’ are on bail even when the offence of such a large economic sabotage of Nigeria is the reason why insecurity has overwhelmed the current administration whereas the charges against Kanu is bordered on alleged use of inflammatory language against the person of President Muhammadu Buhari who is only one out of over 200 million Nigerians.
HURIWA recalled that Kanu who is currently facing a seven-count charge, had in the application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, equally challenged the revocation of the bail the court earlier granted to him.
” He Mazi Nnamdi Kanu specifically urged the court to set aside the order it made on March 28, 2019, which not only issued a bench warrant for his arrest, but also gave FG the nod to try him in absentia. The IPOB leader told the court that contrary to FG’s allegation that he jumped bail, he said that he fled for his life after his home town at Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, was invaded by soldiers, which he said led to the death of 28 persons. Contending that he was denied fair hearing before his bail was revoked, Kanu, attached eight exhibits that included photographs, as well as an affidavit he deposed to from Isreal after he fled from the country.
“HURIWA sadly recalled that whilst dismissing the bail request on Tuesday, trial Justice Binta Nyako, said she was not satisfied with the reason the IPOB leader gave for his failure to appear in court for continuation of his trial. The trial judge noted that from records of the court, Kanu, was represented by his lawyer on the day his bail was revoked, likewise his sureties, ” the statement said.
It reads further :“In fact, he sureties told the court that they did not know the whereabout of the Defendant and even applied to be discharged from the matter.
“Therefore, the Defendant was not denied fair hearing”.
Besides, Justices Nyako held that though a court could vacate a previous order when confronted with a cogent and verifiable reason, “in the instant case, I have not been given any, neither have I been given any reason to set-aside the order.
“The present application amounts to an abuse of court process for attempting to relitigate an issue already decided by the court. “If the Defendant is dissatisfaction, he has the Appeal Court to go to.
“This application is accordingly dismissed”, Justice Nyako held.
HURIWA said although it is not in her place to determine for the presiding judge how to discharge her constitutional obligations but the Rights group said the unfair treatment of Nnamdi Kanu because of where he comes from is against Section 42(1) of the Constitution which absolutely makes discrimination unacceptable and unlawful just as the Rights group said the accusations of diversions of humonguous quantum of public cash which should ordinarily attract the dead penalty is treated with indifference by the judiciary particularly because most of those being accused are of a particular section of the country and are considered to be in the good books of the ruling party- All Progressives Congress which the Rights group said makes Nigeria appear like a rogue entity.
The rights group bemoaned the ugly fact that four days ago in far away Rwanda, Buhari was quoted as ruling out the bail option for Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“The President said Kanu’s continued detention is an opportunity for him “to justify all the uncomplimentary things said against Nigeria while he was in Britain.”
” Buhari said this at a bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the margins of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
” According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the president said, the Federal Government may not grant the IPOB leader such a privilege anymore considering the fact that he had jumped bail earlier.”
HURIWA quoted Buhari as saying :“He felt very safe in Britain and said awful things against Nigeria. We eventually got him when he stepped out of the United Kingdom, and we sent him to court. Let him defend all that he said there.
“His (Kanu’s) lawyers have access to him. Remember he jumped bail before, how are we sure he won’t do it again if he’s admitted to bail?”
HURIWA said the extra legal attempts by Buhari to coerce the judiciary to do the bidding of his whims and caprices shows that indeed Nigeria is not just a Banana Republic but a full dictatorship.
HURIWA said the Judiciary under section 6 enjoys the judicial powers of the state just as the Rights group said under Section 36(5) every accused person is deemed to be innocent in the eyes of the law.
HURIWA urged Justice Binta Nyako to issue a gag order banning President Muhammadu Buhari and his aides from interfering in a matter pending before her Court unless what we are being told is that President Muhammadu Buhari is now the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.