A federal high court in Abuja has granted bail to 12 supporters of Sunday Igboho who were arrested in Oyo state.
Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) had on July 1 raided Igboho’s residence in Oyo and arrested 12 of his supporters.
The arrested persons were subsequently moved to the federal capital territory (FCT) where they have been in detention.
Subsequently, the suspects through their lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, filed an application asking the court to “inquire into the circumstances constituting grounds of their arrest and detention since July 2, 2021, and where it deems fit admit applicants on bail”.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Olajengbesi, counsel to the applicants, asked the court to admit his clients to bail.
“There is no need to continue to keep them with the respondents,” he said.
Commenting on the bail application, David Awo, DSS counsel, had said he was not opposed to bail for the 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th applicants.
He told the court that the remaining four applicants (2nd, 12th, 5th, and 6th) were still being investigated.
Ruling on the bail application, Obiora Egwatu, the presiding judge, said it is clear that no charge has been preferred against the applicants and that they have been in detention since they were arrested.
He said the applicants have a right to liberty and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
He admitted the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10 and 11th applicants to bail in the sum of N5 million and two sureties each.
The judge said the sureties must be residents of Abuja with an acceptable means of identification and passport photographs. They must also provide evidence of tax payment of two years and swear to an affidavit of means. The residence of the sureties shall also be verified by the court.
“For the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 12 applicants, since no charge has been preferred against them, bail is equally granted to them in the sum of N10 million and two sureties in like sum,” the judge ruled.
“The sureties shall be resident in Abuja, provide means of identification, passport photograph, evidence of tax payment within 2 years and depose to an affidavit of means.
“One of the surety must be a civil servant in the employ of the federal government or any of its agencies on level 12 and above. He shall provide the original of his employment letter and promotion letter. The residence of the sureties shall be verified.
“Each of the 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th applicants, shall report at the office of the respondents every first Monday the month, commencing from the first Monday in September 2021.”
At the initial court session which was held on Monday, officials of the DSS had barred journalists from covering the trial.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) subsequently described the action as a threat to the rule of law and democracy.
Emmanuel Ogbeche, chairman of the FCT NUJ, had called on “relevant authorities” to take “necessary measures to protect and ensure journalists’ safety on duty”.
Source: The CableNG