The Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs), coordinated by Intersociety, and comprising the following ten rights organizations: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC), Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group), have firmly resolved to name Citizen Nnamdi Kanu as a prisoner-of-conscience (POC).
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Friday, gave reasons why the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Kanu, who is answering to a six–count treason charge, should not be released on bail pending the determination of his trial.
Kanu who has been in detention since October 14, 2015, is facing trial alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mr. Mohammed Diri, alleged they have committed treasonable felony, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Federal Government of Nigeria alleged that the defendants were the ones managing the affairs of the IPOB, which it described as “an unlawful society”.
While rejecting the bail application of the accused persons, the judge held that they were not entitled to bail as they failed to show that they would not continue to commit the alleged crime for which they were being prosecuted.
Uphelding the argument of the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Mohammed Diri, who had opposed the bail application on the ground that the accused were likely to interfere with the case and intimidate prosecuting witnesses.
Justice Tsoho maintained that contrary to the argument of the defence lawyers, the charges preferred against the accused were not trumped up.
He observed that rather than contradict the allegations leveled against the accused persons in the counter-affidavit filed by the prosecution, the defendants only claimed that their agitation for creation of the Republic of Biafra was within their right.
The judge, who also noted that Kanu’s admission that he was a dual citizen of Nigeria and Britain further heightened the possibility of him jumping bail, preferred to order an accelerated hearing of the case with the possibility of hearing it on daily basis.
He then ordered that the accused persons should remain in Kuje prison throughout their trial and adjourned trial in the case until February 9, 10, 11 and 12.
However, the SBCHROs in a statement argued that “For the fact that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu has never killed anybody (use violence) or authorized anybody or group to kill (advocated for violence); for the fact that he was arrested and detained for 98 days without trial contrary to Sections 35 (4) (a) (right to personal liberty), 33 (right to life), 34 (right to dignity of human person), 36 (right to fair hearing) and 41 (right freedom of movement) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles V,VI,VII and XII of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983); for the fact that the Nigerian authorities led by President Muhammadu Buhari have flouted with impunity and reckless abandon several court decisions bordering on protection and enforcement of these constitutional rights of the detained Prisoner-of-Conscience; for the fact that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest and detention was politically motivated and ill-conceived; for the fact that he was arrested and detained and is being persecuted for his non violent political and social thoughts; and for the fact that the mind of the trial Judge; Hon Justice John Tsoho was possibly abused, biased and corrupted presidentially, leading to the Judge convicting Citizen Nnamdi Kanu before trial (his choice of words); upon which Citizen Kanu was denied his long awaited and deserved bail; Citizen Nnamdi Kanu eminently deserves the local and international status of a prisoner-of-conscience.”
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