Nnamdi Kanu’s Travails: A Bare Bail Devoid Of Liberty By Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, San, Ofr, Fciarb, LL.D Constitutional Lawyer And Human Rights Activist
By Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
Published by Family Writers
The Biafra Herald
27th April 2017
I congratulate Justice Binta Nyako for being courageous enough to even grant bail at all to IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, on health grounds. This is predicated on the truism that the Judiciary has been so humiliated, browbeaten, terrorized and emasculated by the Executive, that it takes extraordinary courage and daring bravado, for a Judge to even grant bail to a much vilified Nnamdi Kanu, whose only “crime” is that he seeks self-determination for his repressed, oppressed, suppressed and marginalized indigenous people of Biafra, a right recognized even by the UNO and AU in all self – determination instruments.
The catch here however, is that in granting the bail, the Judge, apparently trying to tread softly, took back with the right hand what she gave with the left hand. Bail is a constitutional right. It is guaranteed by section 35(5) of the 1999 Constitution, with or without conditions attached. But any conditions so attached to bail must be such that the grant of bail is itself not rendered meaningless and impotent as in the Nnamdi case. Kanu’s bail conditions are outrightly stringent, punitive, discriminatory, profiling and stereotyping. Hear them:
He must produce 3 sureties, who must deposit the sum of 100m each (a ready recipe for corruption).
One of the sureties must be a highly respected Jewish leader since Kanu practices Judaism as his religion (discrimination on the basis of religion).
Produce a highly placed person of Igbo extraction (discrimination on the basis of place of origin and ethnic group).
Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN
Produce a respected person who resides and owns landed property in Abuja (a call for the elitist money bags).
Must not attend any rally or grant an interview (breach of freedom of movement and speech).
Must not be in a crowd exceeding 10 persons (denial of freedom of Association).
Must surrender his Nigerian and British passports (denial of freedom of movement).
Must sign an undertaking to be available for trial at all times (normal. This is the main purpose of bail).
His wedding ring and reading glasses to be given back to him (thank God for tokenism).
Must provide monthly update on Kanu’s health (yes, to ensure his health is improving).
Some of the bail conditions are not only troubling, unsetting and punitive, but are simply unconstitutional, as briefly highlighted above.
Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that
“a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject to; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
It is crystal clear from these constitutional provisions that the stringent bail conditions granted to Nnamdi have clearly discriminated against him and subjected him to “certain disabilities or restriction” on the basis of his religion, place of birth, political opinion and ethnic group.
What the bail conditions are simply saying is that it will be illegal, forbidden and contrary to the bail conditions were Kanu to do the following:
Day by day, we subject the Nigerian society to bottomless ridicule and derision in the comity of Nations. Bail conditions are simply to ensure the attendance of a person in court, and nothing more. Once excessive or punitive, bail loses its purpose, function and goal. I urge Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers to immediately file an application before the same Justice Binta, for variation of the bail terms to more favourable ones, that will make Kanu a human being once more. I urge the Nigerian judiciary to stand up “gidigba”, to defend the rights of all Nigerians against executive lawlessness, judicial timidity and legislative rascality.