May 22, 2017

Nnamdi Kanu Bail Conditions: onerous or constitutional? | Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani

Bail is simply a process or procedure whereby a person who has been denied of his constitutional right to freedom of movement (in other words, incarcerated due to the alleged commission of one crime or the other) is released upon security provided by him to the tune of the order of the court or any other body that has the authority to grant such bail application. The case of Nnamdi Kanu who has been granted bail on April 25th, 2017. The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has granted Nnamdi Kanu bail in his longtrial for charges bordering on treasonable felony. The justice, Justice Binta Nyako, while granting the bail application by the counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, on health grounds, ordered that he be released on bail on the following grounds:

1. That he provide a highly respected Jewish leader as a shorty for his bail
2. That he provide a ‘highly placed person of Igbo extraction such as a Senator’ as well as a ‘highly respected person who is resident in and owns landed property in Abuja’. Each of the sureties to be provided by Nnamdi Kanu is to make a deposit of N100million each for his release. He has also_ as part of the conditions for his bail been precluded from attending any rally or granting interviews to members of the press. He is to also surrender his British and Nigerian international passports to the registry of the court. Thoughts on the Bail Conditions First and foremost, it is to be noted that the Federal High Court (or any other court for that matter, so long as it has the jurisdiction to try the offence) can impose whatever bail conditions it wishes on the bail applicant, taking into cognizance such factors as the nature of the offence, the ability of the applicant to influence witnesses and/or evidence due to high standing in the society, and a host of other factors. However, at all times, courts are expected to ensure that the conditions imposed by them for granting a bail application are reasonable and not onerous, such that the applicants can be able to meet up with the conditions in order to secure their freedom and be free from the clutches of the prison yard. Please note that the operative word here is Onerous; that the conditions set for the bail of the applicant are not onerous. Question:
In the above case of Nnamdi Kanu, is the bail condition imposed by the Federal High Court too stringent and onerous?

A bail application if and when sought by an accused person is simply to further the provisions of Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to seek the enforcement of said rights and secure the freedom of the person in question. Is Nnamdi Kanu’s Bail terms onerous?
The question of whether or not the bail terms imposed on an accused person is onerous or too stringent depends on the peculiar circumstances of each case before the court. In the case of Nnamdi Kanu’s bail application, several persons spanning the entire length and breadth of Nigeria, has taken to Social Media to protest that the bail terms imposed upon the Leader of the Independent People of Biafra are too stringent for him to meet. N300 million is too much a sum of money, as well as the insistence of the Justice that he provide a Jewish leader as a surety. Is there any law in Nigeria that provides for such? Surely that is unreasonable? In my own opinion, it is. What if he is unable to procure a Jewish leader as a surety? He remains in prison?

Yes, if Nnamdi Kanu is unable to provide a Jewish leader, a person resident in, and with property in Abuja, and a person of high standing in the Igbo community, all of them to provide the combined sum of three hundred million naira, then Nnamdi Kanu is going to remain in prison. Steps to take:

If the Counsel to Nnamdi Kanu considers the bail terms to be too stringent and draconian, then they can apply to have the terms varied for the leader to something they consider reasonable enough for them to put up with. For, as the famous saying goes: if the bail terms granted to an applicant are too draconian such that he cannot meet them, then it means that no bail was granted. Further thoughts:

Nnamdi Kanu had been granted bail in the past, yet the Muhammad Buhari led administration consistently refused to allow him to leave the clutches of the Kuje prison in Abuja, dredging up a plethora of excuses pertaining to why he should
remain in prison custody. The Federal Government blatantly disregarded the rule of law. In this new bail granted to Nnamdi Kanu, will the Rule of Law prevail? Or will the Buhari-led government decide once again to keep the man trapped in the clutches of Federal prison?

Kingsley Ugochukwu Ani Esq. is a legal practitioner, blogger, corporate branding expert, and human rights activist living and working in Lagos, Nigeria. You can contact him via +2347035074930, or on Linkedin, Facebook, and connect with him on Twitter.

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