Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Nigeria, has stirred the hornet’s nest by her ruling in a bail application by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on April 25.
While granting the accused bail on health grounds, the judge said Kanu would regain his freedom, which he lost almost two years ago, only if he provides three sureties including “a highly respected and recognised Jewish leader” who must deposit N100m. The two others, she said, would be “a highly placed person of Igbo extraction such as a senator” and “a highly respected person who resides and owns landed property in Abuja”, each to deposit N100m also.
Besides, according to Nyako, Kanu should not be found in a group exceeding 10 people and must not address a rally.
These conditions appear very strange and ostensibly meant to keep Kanu in jail still. At least the judge violated her own condition right inside the courtroom: Kanu was in the midst of no fewer than 60 people including Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and Femi Fani-Kayode. Second, for the first time in recent memory a Nigerian court has requested a foreigner to take a Nigerian on bail inside Nigeria. Third, any Nigerian that has N100m to deposit for the sake of someone else at this time of economic depression must be a looter. The judge showed her bias by insisting the surety must be a highly placed Igbo person. With the near-exclusion of Igbo people from the current federal government, which highly placed person of Igbo stock owns N100m made by legitimate means?
Friends might still rally round and meet those conditions, but the ruling will likely be cited in Nigerian courts for the next half-century.
When Boko Haram terrorists will be put on trial – if ever they will be – it would be interesting to hear a judge request them to produce a “highly respected” terrorist or highly placed Saudi imam as surety. People will remember also that while Kanu is being tried for treason, he has not carried out any act of terror.