By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja has declined to release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu on bail pending his trial.
In a ruling today, the court also denied bail to two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are facing trial with Kanu.
Justice Tsoho maintained that the charge against the defendants “is a grave one that will attract severe punishment upon conviction”.
The court noted that the offence that was allegedly committed by the defendants, which borders on treasonable felony, attracts life imprisonment.
It held that the right to personal liberty of any individual takes secondary place once the issue of national security is involved.
Besides, Justice Tsoho observed that the defendants had in an affidavit they deposed in support of their bail application, insisted that they have a right to agitate for self determination.
“The situation as perceived by this court is that there is conflict of interest between the applicants who insist that they have a right to agitate and the respondent (federal government) which argues that it has the responsibility to maintain peace and order.
“Personal liberty of an individual within the contemplation of section 35 of the 1999 constitution is a qualified right that is not absolute. It can be curtailed in other to prevent a person from committing further offence.
“Section 35 cannot be used as a canopy to escape lawful detention by persons suspected to have committed serious crime”, the Judge held.
While ordering that the defendants should remain at Kuje prison, the Judge fixed February 9 to commence their trial.
The trio are answering to a six-count treason charge that was preferred against him by the federal government.
The court had on January 20, remanded them in prison custody shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the charge against them.
They were in the charge that was signed by the DPP, alleged to have committed treasonable felony, an offence said to be punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
FG alleged that the accused persons were the ones managing the affairs of the IPOB which it described as “an unlawful society”.
Kanu who is also the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, was specifically alleged to have illegally smuggled radio transmitters into Nigeria.
The IPOB leader has been in detention since October 14, 2015, when he was arrested in Lagos by security operatives shortly after he arrived Nigeria from his base in the UK.