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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Denial of bail for the Leader of IPOB Nnamdi Kanu is an abuse of judicial discretion

“Kanu… there has been nothing to support the allegation of treasonable felony. In fact, Nigerians got to hear the real case against Kanu from the President's media chat... Kanu had some equipment, which the government believes is for radio transmission… two international passports.” - Ugwuonye


Amidst the professional silence that the Kanu's case has received from the Nigerian Bar, two prominent lawyers have finally come out to speak on the case. Their position is that the denial of bail in that case is unreasonable and not supported by judicial precedence or international standards. Thus it is an abuse of discretion. I concur with that view in its entirety.
As I stated elsewhere, right from the inception, Kanu's case was driven by state hatred and malice, coupled with repeated blunders and obsessive dispositions toward the idea of Biafra. Nigerian government will arrest a goat if they think that it has bleated the word "Biafra". 
And the government will find a judge that will deny the goat bail. That is really how backward the thinking and approach of government is on the issue of Biafra. The wanton killings of civilian protesters confirm that terrible obsession.
There was no compelling reason to deny Kanu bail, after all that happened in the case. It is not surprising that the Judge in question is the Honourable Justice John Tsoho. He is about one of the most conservative judges on Nigerian bench today. He will do anything that the government asks for or which he wishes is the desire of government.
A judge knows that the decision on bail would be determined not just by the offense charged, but more by the proof of evidence presented. Otherwise, the state can always charge a person with murder without any supporting evidence, just to ensure that he would be denied bail. This has become the preoccupation of the Nigeria prosecutors because they know that trials take years to conclude.
In the case of Kanu, there has been nothing to support the allegation of treasonable felony. In fact, Nigerians got to hear the real case against Kanu from the President's media chat on December 31, 2015. Kanu had some equipment, which the government believes is for radio transmission. He also alleged to have had two international passports and entered Nigeria without using any of them. 
These are really not sufficient to sustain the charge of treasonable felony and certainly not sufficient to justify the denial of bail. But Justice Tsoho is the wrong judge for this kind of case, given his timidity and conservative dispositions. It is also to be noted that Justice Tsoho just got transferred from Lagos Federal High Court to the Abuja Federal High Court. Kanu's case is probably among the first cases he is to be handling in Abuja after his transfer.
Equally important here is the fact that the President of Nigeria had in his media chat sent a coded message to all Nigerian judges that they should deny Kanu bail. This is a fact that seems not to have been fully exploited by Kanu's lawyers so far. Yet, it is a decisive factor. The President had sent in motion a process intended to deny Kanu due process, and that process is yielding expected fruits to the government, with Justice Tsoho as the harvester of those fruits.
Given the continued killings of civilians who merely protest for Kanu's release, Nigerian Government is increasingly facing a serious crisis. It cannot continue the charade that is going on in this case.
Emeka Ugwuonye

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