Abuja — The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on yesterday, granted bail to 10 members of the Indigeniuos People of Biafra, IPOB, who have been in detention since February 2, 2018.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, dismissed a five-paragraphed affidavit the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, filed for the Defendants/Applicants to be allowed to remain in prison custody.
The AGF had in the affidavit dated June 19, maintained that charges against the Defendants- Charles Okpo, Uchechukwu James, Azunna Nwankwo, Otobong Davies, Paul Mgboo, Anya Arosi, Onyemuche Omesu, Jeremiah Okora, Emmanuel Nnanna and Ikechukwu John- bordered on acts of terrorism. Specifically, the Defendants who are all from Umuchiakuma Ihechiowa in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, were docked on a three-count charge before the court, alleged to have on January 4, 2018, conspired with others at large and committed an act of terrorism, by setting houses belonging to one Princess Ikodiya Otta and one Chief Michael Ikpe, on fire.
The prosecution told the court that the aim of the defendants was to endanger the lives of residents of the houses and other members of the community and thereby committed an offence that was contrary to Section 17 of Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Besides, they were in the third count of the charge, accused of belonging to a proscribed organisation, the IPOB and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 16(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
When the matter was called up for hearing, counsel to the Defendants, Chief Ibe Igwe, said he filed a motion pursuant to section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, praying the court to release the defendants on bail pending the determination of the charge against them.
The Defence lawyer told the court that contrary to allegations in the charge, the defendants were arrested at their village football field and subsequently transferred to the office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
He said their arrest followed an allegation by Princess Otta, who he identified as "a very big politician" in the community.
He told the court that the Princess was involved in the extra-judicial murder of one Engr. Chimezie Anyaoha.
The defence attached as an exhibit, a petiton that members of Ihechiowa community wrote to the Inspector General of Police concerning the murder.
In an 11-paragraph affidavit that was deposed by one Mr. Emmanuel Ikpe, a member of the community, he told the court that "Policemen attached to the Princess had on January 4, shot and killed the deceased and also wounded one Mr. Okoro Okpo.
"That owing to this extra judicial killing, there was a spontaneous reaction from the villagers who besieged the residence of the nominal complainant and in the midst of commotion that ensured, the house of the nominal complainant was torched."
AGF urges court to deny IPOB members bail
Meanwhile, the AGF who was represented by Mrs. Judith Obatomi, urged the court to deny bail to the defendants who were on June 6, transferred to Kuje Prisons on the order of trial Justice Binta Nyako.
The AGF contended that the charge against the defendants is punishable by death upon conviction.
"We have evidence of several threats issued by the defendants to the nominal complainants and members of their families", the prosecution submitted.
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba who is sitting as a vacation Judge, held that the charge against the defendants contained bailable offences.
The Judge stressed that the essence of bail is to ensure the attendance of a defendant to trial.
Consequently, he granted each of the defendants bail in the sum of N5 million with one surety.
The court held that the surety must be a civil servant in federal employment not below grade level 14.
Alternatively, the court held that the surety could be a business man that owns a landed property in Abuja that is worth the bail bond.
The defendants were ordered to surrender their travel documents to the court.
"The defendants must be of utmost good behaviour and maintain peace and decorum in their community. Any breach of this condition will attract automatic revocation of the bail", Justice Dimgba held.
The case was adjourned till October 18 for trial.
Army warns over sit-at-home, urges trouble-makers to steer clear of S-East
In a related development, the 82 Division of Nigeria Army has warned trouble makers to steer clear of South East region. General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division Enugu, Major General Emmanuel Kabuk gave the warning while addressing a joint security team patrol within Enugu metropolis and its environs, yesterday.
The joint security team comprised of personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air-Force, Nigerian Police, Department of State Security and Police Mobile Squadron 3.
Others are Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Immigration Services, Nigeria Customs Services and Anti-Cultism Unit of Enugu State Police Command.
"We are observing this training together to further improve our efficiency and proficiency in the internal security duties as well as understand each other better in the line of duty.
"With this exercise, we are clearly sounding a note of warning for trouble-makers to steer-clear of the entire South-East and other places of 82 Division Areas of Responsibility," he said.
"The law will surely take its course on criminals that want to disturb the peace in South-East and Nigeria," he added.
The joint patrol team comprises over 50 vehicles that patrolled major roads and streets in Enugu and its environs.
... invades Nnamdi Kanu's community again
In a similar vein, fresh reports have revealed that the military allegedly invaded Nnamdi Kanu's community in Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State. The invasion which was said to be the third time, happened yesterday ahead of the September 14 sit-at-home order by IPOB.
A combined team of Navy, Army, Police, Immigration and Civil Defence Corps invaded the community in a show of force in Afaraukwu with military hardware which lasted for hours, as the scared villagers wondered why security agents were parading intimidatingly at Kanu's village.
IPOB condemns invasion
IPOB has condemned the alleged invasion of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu's community, describing the show of force as "another military overreach' by the Fulani controlled hierarchy of the Nigerian defence establishment.."
A statement by the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful said: "This is clear confirmation that the entire east is under siege for no apparent reason other than the need for the Fulani caliphate to prove their dominance over the rest of Nigeria.
"Isiama Afaraukwu it seems is now the favorite exercise range of the Nigerian military. What this confirms is that Nnamdi Kanu is the one person the Fulani caliphate is most terrified of.
"It is a shame the corrupt political class, blinded by their own selfishness and petty jealousy cannot see it. We are alerting the world that this blatant provocation is one of the many reasons why we have called for a nationwide strike on the 14th of September 2018 to protest this Arewa Islamic military occupation of Biafraland."
Cabals inPresidency plotting to unleash terror on Biafra agitators--Ohanaeze youths
Also yesterday, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide alleged that some cabals in the Presidency were plotting to unleash terror on Biafra agitators during the September 14 sit-at-home order declared by IPOB.
The group however disassociated itself from the sit-at-home order and called on Ndigbo to ignore the exercise for the sake of its economic and human implications within the South East region and the country at large.
In a statement issued in Abakaliki, the Deputy President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Obinna Achuonye appealled to IPOB to re-consider its stand and call off the sit-at-home order.
The statement read in part: "The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide had disassociated itself from the September 14th sit-at-home order by IPOB to honour Igbo youths who lost their lives in the Biafra agitation. We ask Ndigbo to ignore it.
"We uncovered plot by some cabals in the presidency who had ordered security agents to unleash terror on unarmed Biafra agitators during the sit at home order of September 14th 2018.
"OYC insists that to avert mayhem and save the lives of our Igbo youths who shouldn't lose their lives while remembering those who lost theirs,IPOB should join Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide in the prayer sessions and candle night of September 14th."
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State Police Command, CP Musa Kimo has called on citizens of the state to go about their normal businesses on September 14 as security agencies would not tolerate any form of molestation and harassment on the citizens of Ebonyi State by any group of persons.
We're not part of IPOB sit at home order--BIM
Also reacting to tomorrow's sit-at-home, the zonal leader of Ebonyi Central Zone of the Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, Mr. Sylvester Useh yesterday said the group was not part of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB's sit-at-home order of 14th September.
Useh who stated this while briefing newsmen in Abakaliki on the activities lined up to mark the 19th anniversary celebration of BIM in the state called on Ndigbo to come out enmasse and join the celebration as no form of violence would mar the exercise.
According to the BIM leader, "Our celebration is usually done every year and we are not violent about it. We are not part of IPOB sit-at-home order. That is not our modus operandi. We are not violent. BIM is headed by Uwazuruike, the Biafra leader.
"We urge lovers of Ndigbo to come out and celebrate with us on 13th September, 2018. We are not causing any war. We are civil and we are not going to block any street.It is a pure celebration in the state."