Some Nigerian lawyers have reacted to the recent demand by the federal government for the revocation of the bail granted the leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
During a telephone interview on Saturday, the lawyers said the decision of the government to seek the revocation of Mr. Kanu’s bail is not against the law.
They, however, added that there is a need for caution to be exhibited by the court, in handling the matter.
The Nigerian government is demanding the revocation of Mr. Kanu’s bail following an alleged violation of his bail conditions.
In a statement from the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, signed by his aide, Salihu Isah, Mr. Kanu was accused of addressing a crowd of more than 10 people, granting various media interviews, making separatist comments, and introducing the Biafra Security Service, among other accusations.
The application which was made pursuant to sections 169 and 173 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA was regarded as ‘legally inappropriate’ by Mr. Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.
Mr. Ejiofor hinged his stance on the grounds that the sections of law cited by the prosecution do not empower them to seek the revocation of Mr. Kanu’s bail until parties have all been given the right of fair hearing.
He added that said bail conditions have been challenged by his client hence the allegation of “non-compliance is belated.”
According to Mr. Ejiofor, the essence of bail is to allow a defendant attend his trial and Mr. Kanu is fully prepared to face trial.
Reacting to the situation a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Akinolu Kehinde, said the attendance of a defendant to trial is ‘just a general rule’, not the only purpose of bail.
“No, that is just the general rule. If the defendant goes ahead to do anything that will affect his case, like doing some of those things that led to his trial: his bail can be revoked.
“Bail is at the discretion of the court, but everything about life is cause and effect. If the revocation of his bail is the effect of his action, it’s like putting your hand in the fire: if you do that, the effect is that your hands will be burnt,” Mr. Akinolu said.
Another senior advocate, Ahmed Raji, also said the court will have to mainly consider the facts before giving a verdict.
“The court will have to look at the facts: were there conditions attached to the bail? If there were conditions, has he breached the conditions? Are there evidence of a breach of the Constitution, and if there are: what quality of evidence is before the court? If by the evidence he has breached them, then he is liable to revocation. If he has not breached them, then there is nothing anybody can do. It is not a question of arguments by counsel.”
Mr. Raji, however, adds that given the volatile nature of the matter, Mr. Kanu should rather be given a sound warning by the court.
“I think with the volatile nature of this matter, especially now that the entire country is trying to become more united: I believe that even if assuming that he has violated the conditions, I think he should be given a very strict and last warning, rather than go straight to the question of revocation.
“In the light of the way the country is going, and with regard to the comments of the President that although there are differences, we have to resolve them in a way so as not to provoke chaos. I think he should be given a sound warning. Then if he goes back and repeats the same thing, then maybe that decision (revocation) can be made. At the same time, the security of the country should not be taken for granted,” Mr. Raji said.
An Abuja based lawyer, Beneath Nnemeka, said the government has not acted wrongly in making the application the way it was made, but added that the bail conditions in the first place were “totally inconsiderate of Mr. Kanu’s fundamental rights.”
“(The) Government has done the proper thing. However, the bail conditions are very rigid. They were not given with a human face. It’s totally unrealistic, I have never heard such bail conditions. I think that government can warn him, but his lawyer should push hard to make the conditions reviewed by the court.
Mr. Kanu on Sunday boasted that nobody could re-arrest him.
He is currently enjoying bail after spending about 16 months in detention for alleged treason.