From Godwin Tsa
Four pro-Biafra agitators, Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, were yesterday granted bail in the sum of N40 million by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
They were charged for treasonable felony alongside leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nmandi Kanu, now at large.
Justice Binta Nyako, who admitted them to bail yesterday, also directed that they should produce two sureties in like sum. The judge further directed that the money should be deposited in cash to the chief registrar of the court.
She also ordered the defendants to submit all their travel documents and not travel without leave of the court. The sureties are to swear an affidavit of means.
The pro-Biafra agitators were also barred from attending any form of rally, press conference or granting interviews. Before yesterday’s ruling, the court earlier denied the defendants bail.
Nyako said her decision was reached after reviewing her previous ruling, the nature of the charge as well as the prescribed punishment for offence the defendants allegedly committed.They were arraigned on a three-count amended charge bordering on treasonable felony.
She observed that although the offence attracts a maximum of seven years upon conviction, “the defendants have already spent better part of the years in prison custody.”
She ruled that she took into cognizance various affidavits that urged the court to release the defendants on health ground and also bearing in mind a high court ruling that previously gave bail to the first defendant, Chimezie. Nevertheless, the court held that the first defendant must report to the commissioner of police in Rivers State every two weeks.
While the second and fourth defendants were ordered to report to the commissioner of police in Enugu, the third defendant was directed to report to the commissioner of police in Anambra State every two weeks.
Nyako had on February 20 granted their application for their separate trial following the inability of both the prosecution and the defence lawyers to produce the IPOB leader whose whereabouts have remained unknown since September last year.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015, the Federal Government alleged that the four defendants, alongside Kanu and others at large “on diverse dates in 2014 and 2015 in Nigeria and London, United Kingdom, did conspire amongst yourselves to broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu and other areas within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, preparations being made by you and others at large, for states in the South-East and South-South zones and other communities in Kogi and Benue states to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a view to constituting same into a Republic of Biafra and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.