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Friday, 28 April 2017

Biafra: Exclusive: Kanu’s Bail Conditions Are Very Stringent But A Step In The Right Direction— Barr. Emeka Ugwuonye


●He can seek for appeal after regaining freedom

April 28, 2017

Barrister Emeka Ugwuonye, Esq, founder and principal administrator of the Due Process Advocates(DPA); an organization believed to have been established for the sole aim of seeking an “authentic voice for justice, fairness, equity and right to the pursuit of happiness,” recently had a chat with one of our correspondents.

Barrister Ugwuonye, who was newly drafted to join and fortify the defense team of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, in an exclusive interview with Chukwuemeka Chimerue of BIAFRA WRITERS bared his mind on the recent significant judgment obtained from an Abuja Federal High Court, granting the IPOB leader bail.

The defense lawyer said that Nnamdi Kanu’s acceptance of the stringent bail conditions will grant him the opportunity to return to court to file for the variation of the terms for his bail, even as he said that Justice Binta Nyako has no power to rule on any application that has not been brought before her.

The lawyer also faulted the decision of the court in granting only the IPOB leader bail while denying same to other three defendants standing alongside for trial, adding that there was no viable justification for doing so.

Excerpts....

For the benefit of those coming to know you, can you please introduce yourself and why you decided to join the defense team of Nnamdi Kanu?


I am Barrister Emeka Ugwuonye by name. I had always wanted to be part of this effort because as you know, the trial is all about the fundamental rights of every citizens, forget their names, it’s a question of the extent and scope an individual has to express himself. So what goes on in Nnamdi’s case touches upon every other citizens in Nigeria. So, to that extent, I consider this case to be of great importance and public interest. So naturally, my role as Counsel, if I have the opportunity, I would like to make my stand on it. So, when I was finally invited to join the team, i had no choice but to accept and there has been a significant progress in the previous trials, which made the court to grant him bail. It’s a major development for me.

How do you see the bail granted to the IPOB leader?


Well, the bail came with very stringent conditions but I can tell you that it’s a step in the right direction. I think those conditions will be met. I think Nnamdi Kanu will be out, then there will be an opportunity to return to the court to request for the variation of the terms of bail.
So granting of bail is fundamental because the court had by so doing, said that it’s comfortable in the belief that Nnamdi Kanu could be free pending trial.

This will not be the first time Nnamdi Kanu will be granted bail by the courts and the FG flouted the order, do you think that this time around would be any different?


Well, it is difficult to trust or say what the government is going to do but I am confident that the judge has done her own part, having done her part, the ball is now kicked into the court of the government. If the government doesn’t release Nnamdi Kanu, it further deepens the suspicion the world has about the Nigerian government having neglect for the rule of law and due process.

According to the ruling, out of the three accused persons standing trial with Nnamdi Kanu, only the latter was granted bail. What do you think will now be the fate of the remaining defendants?

That’s actually the most bizarre part of the ruling – to grant bail to Nnamdi Kanu and deny bail to others, meant that the court narrowed down, solely on the issue of health as demonstrated in the affidavit. But there are other factors the court ought to have considered. The court said that no new factor emerged, well, there is a new factor and that factor is that the leader of the group they are prosecuting is now free; that is a major development.
If Nnamdi could be free, what is the justification of holding the others? Is it because you think they’re going to disrupt the proceedings? Why will they do so if their leader is out there? If Nnamdi cannot disrupt proceedings, why would the other three disrupt proceedings? So, there’s no justification keeping these guys in detention so i expect the counsel to come back and apply to vary the terms. If am invited to be part of that effort, I’ll give my possible best support.

Now, part of the conditions for granting the IPOB leader bail was that he won’t attend rallies or grant any interview to journalists. Don’t you think that his rights to freedom of expression and association has been breached?


Yes of course, I think so. That is a very extraordinary terms of bail. There’s no justification for that. I think the judge went too far but I say, this is a progress in the right direction and he’s going to be out very soon. He’s going to sit down with his lawyers and they’ll decide what to do next. I think that the next thing I can foresee, is that an application is coming back to this court to modify the terms of bail. They’re going to vary those terms and the judge is going to clarify the rulings...(interrupts)

Sorry for interrupting, but didn’t you hear the judge state that one of the conditions for bail was that Kanu’s defense counsel won’t file further applications in court?


You know, the funny thing about this, is that no judge can rule upon an application that is not yet before him or her. So all that the judge said about what will happen to future applications is very unusual. I don’t take it seriously because no judge can rule on an application that has not been made before her and if she insist on that, then it will be appealed. And the issue of whether what will happen if the case is on appeal, is not up to her because she can deny a stage and if she denies a stage, the Court of Appeal will consider the issue of stay, and if the Court of Appeal says that stay is of no choice but to obey the Court of Appeal.

Generally speaking, how do you view justice in the Nigerian judiciary and Nigeria as a whole?


Well, as you can see today, the entire trial of Nnamdi Kanu is a demonstration of lack of due process and commitment to the rule of law on the part of the Nigerian government.
What Nigeria has when it comes to the scale of law, as the founder of the Due Process Advocate, what engineered us and inspired us into setting our organization, more precisely, is because of the low level of civil liberty in Nigeria. Justice is not standing behind where it should be. But I can tell you that progress can start any day and today is not too late.

Sir, what then will form your final words for Kanu’s supporters, who have been anxiously following this case?


Well, I think that the supporters of Nnamdi should be able to find some sense of relief in today’s decisions. It means that all hopes are not lost, it means that their leader is going to be out and they can be sure he’s healthy, feeding well and meeting with his lawyers in preparation to his defense. So I think it’s a positive development and I am very happy today. I’m sure of that.

By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S 
For Biafra Writers 

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