ABUJA – An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Wednesday, foreclosed further chances for the federal government’s counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, to file responses against the bail applications moved by co-defendants to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
The presiding Justice Binta Nyako made the ruling against the backdrop of the absence of federal government’s prosecution counsel in today’s proceedings and his failure to file any response since April 13, 2018, when the bail applications were filed on behalf of the four detained Biafra activists.
In his reaction on the absence of the prosecution counsel, the lead counsel to the defendants, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, pleaded the court to consider the lenghty periods the defendants, particularly Benjamin Madubugwu, Chidiebere Onwudiwe and David Nwawuisi has spent in prison custody without granting them bail, adding that their health conditions have deteriorated in prison.
According to him, “My Lord, may I also put before this Honourable Court that aside the ruling of the bail applications, that we also have an application, which in substance is challenging the competence of the charges on the basis that the evidences filed before the court lacks ‘prima facie’.
“I understand from the last proceedings, the Lordship directed that this application would be heard today; and the said application has also been served on the Prosecution but up till now, they have not responded. The Lord also slated the bail application of the 1st defendant for ruling today but I’m beginning to observe that the ruling is not ready.
“In the course of adjournment for ruling, by the Lordship (which we have not objected), the court should take into account the length of time the defendants have spent in custody, particularly the 2nd defendant, and the 3rd defendant who has been ill for so long. The fact that there is no counter affidavit challenging this application…”
However, the trial judge who retorted in response to Ejiofor said, “Do you know what? The way you people are going in this matter, is that you all like the sound of your voices. I have said I’m adjourning this matter for the ruling of the bail applications; what more do you want? I’m fore-closing any reply from the Prosecution, to rule on your bail applications.
“You gave me lengthy proposals. You gave me lengthy write-ups. I need to look at them. Or you think I should sit here and grant your bail applications? Mr Efere addressed me orally; he did not even file a written bail application.
“I have just said I’m going to foreclose the Prosecution from any reply because they have not filed any. Do you want me to adjourn the ruling to the end of the case? If not, sit down and allow me time to go and look at what you have said.
“I’m going to adjourn all those applications for ruling, and foreclose his reply.”
Consequently, the court was adjourned till June 25, 2018, for ruling on the bail applications and continuation of trial.
Earlier during the opening session of the court, Eric Efere, counsel to the second defendant, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, in the trial, expressed dissatisfaction at the absence of the prosecution counsel, urging the court to go ahead with its ruling on the bail applications regardless of Labaran’s absence.
“My Lord, we are deeply concerned by the purported letter sent by the Prosecution, asking for an adjournment. And I intend to oppose that application as it is frivolous and time wasting. We are aware of the fact that the Ministry of Justice under the Attorney General’s office has a lot of lawyers, and quite competent to have someone else (in representation) in such circumstances,” he stated.