A Jos Federal High Court II on Wednesday granted bail to a miner, Abdullahi Adamu, alias Dan-China, 16 Chinese nationals and 9 other Nigerians who are being tried by the federal government for alleged illegal mining.
Justice Musa Kurya, the presiding judge, who granted all the accused bail in the sum of N100 million, directed that they should also produce two sureties in the position of a director in the state civil service.
Mr Kurya also ordered, as pre-conditions, that the sureties must drop their international passports with the court registrar, as well as all the accused persons, pending the determination of the case filed by the Attorney General (AG) of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the award of the bail was sequel to an application made by Dan-China and 25 other accused persons through their counsel, Paul Erokoro, Joseph Danboyi and Gyang Zi, during the last sitting on Mach 28.
The federal government had on August 14, 2017 arrested Dan-China and 25 others and charged them before Justice Kurya, on a four-count charge of illegal mining at Zurak in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau.
The government alleged that the accused persons had sometimes between 2015 and 2017, made some illegal mining activities and disposing of the minerals, thereby committing offences punishable under the Miscellaneous Offences Act of Nigeria, 2004.
The offences are also punishable under the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.
When the matter was mentioned before the judge on March 28, Mr Erokoro had argued his application for bail for the accused persons, citing Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states that every citizen is entitled to bail.
But the prosecuting counsel, Ali Alilu, had objected to the bail application, particularly for Dan-China advancing "security reasons" for his objection and that some of the accused had jumped bail before.
The counsel to both sides had argued strongly over the bail application till when it was evening, such that ruling on the application was not possible for the judge, who, as an interim measure, granted them (accused) an interim bail on that day, (March 28).
He had adjourned the case till Wednesday, May, 16, for ruling on the bail application.
When the case came up on Wednesday, Mr Kurya said that the argument put up by the prosecuting counsel on the issue of "security reasons" for Dan-China and fear of jumping of bail for the other accused could not hold water and so failed.
"Since they came before me, I have nothing in my record to show that the 2nd and 26th accused have jumped bail nor any proof to show that the 1st accused is a security threat.
"The 1st accused is the Managing Director (MD) of the 25 other accused persons and they need him to prepare for their defence in this matter; besides the fundamental human rights of individuals takes prominence.
"I hereby hold that the bail application succeeds; I therefore grant all the accused bail in the sum of N100 million, to produce two sureties in the rank of a director in the state civil service.
"They (sureties) must produce two of their passports photographs, as well as deposit their international passports with the registrar of the court, pending the determination of this case, as pre-conditions for the bail, " he ordered.
Mr Kurya, however, adjourned the case to June 28, for definite hearing.
NAN reports that the security operatives, who had on March 28 re-arrested Dan-China after the court granted them interim bail, did not even bring him to court for Wednesday's ruling on the bail application.