A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the State Security Service to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on bail, unconditionally.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola gave the order while ruling on a bail application filed by Mr. Kanu’s counsel, Vincent Obeta.
Mr. Obeta had approached the court with an application for the bail of his client, after the court gave the SSS permission to detain Mr. Kanu for another 90 days.
At a previous hearing, Mr. Obeta told the court that Mr. Kanu had already been held for 80 days, since his arrest by the SSS.
Justice Ademola, therefore, ruled that the continued detention of Mr. Kanu without trial violated Section 158 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution.
The judge set aside his earlier order authorising the SSS to detain Mr. Kanu for a further 90 days.
Mr. Ademola said there was no law that permitted the SSS or any other security agency to detain any Nigerian for so long, without trial.
Mr. Kanu was arrested on October 17 after arriving Nigeria from the United Kingdom. His arrest triggered protests in south east states with supporters demanding his immediate release.
Mr. Kanu was not in court Thursday, and it was not immediately clear if he had been released.
Justice Ademola said his ruling that Mr. Kanu be released unconditionally was especially due to the fact that the SSS had filed no charge against him in any court of jurisdiction.
Separately on Thursday, a Magistrate Court in Abuja granted bail to 13 people who were detained during a protest in support of Mr. Kanu.
The detainees were arrested on December 2, by the police when they appeared in court in solidarity with Mr. Kanu, who was at the time being tried at the Wuse magistrate court.
Mr. Kanu’s case at the lower court was struck out on Wednesday.
The counsel to the 13 detainees, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police had obtained an order from the magistrate court to have his clients detained in prison.
“In that order, the magistrate court asked that they be produced in court on December 17,” Mr. Ejiofor stated.
He therefore issued a petition on behalf of his clients requesting that they be arraigned and subsequently discharged.
Upon arrival in court, Thursday, Mr. Ejiofor informed the court that his clients were present, but that the police brought them without filing any case against them, or making a request to further detain them.
Mr. Ejiofor told the court that the order for his client’s detention was obtained in accordance with section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and that section 296 of the Act allows the court to release them in the face of present circumstances.
“Section 296 (6) of the ACJA allows persons detained pursuant to an order made under section 293 of the same Act to be released and discharged; in the event of the failure of the detaining authority, to file for an extension of that detention or file a charge before a court,” Mr. Ejiofor stated.
The magistrate, Azubuike Okeagu, therefore ruled that the detainees be released and discharged on the basis of that.