It's Baseless, The Request Of The AGF To Revoke Nnamdi Kanu's Bail -- Chuks Nwachukwu Argues

From a legal point of view, the request of the AGF to revoke Kanu's bail has no basis. I suppose that the request is in the form of an application to the trial court. Some other persons said it is in the form of an appeal. I am yet to see the court processes. I will assume that it is an application to the court where Kanu is standing trial.

Well, it would be a very novel application. The reason is that contrary to what the lay public perceive, when bail is granted the only time that an application can be made to court to revoke it is if the accused person should jump bail. In that situation, the court would cut the bail and issue a bench warrant for his apprehension.

The basic justification for the incarceration of anyone standing trial is apprehension that he would jump bail, that is, run away and avoid the trial and possible conviction and punishment. Otherwise, it is absolutely prejudicial to the fundamental rights of a person standing trial to freedom of movement and to be presumed innocent until conviction to keep him in jail during the trial. It is also restrictive of his rights to all facilities to prepare for his defence.

Therefore, the primary purpose of bail is to ensure that the accused person stands his trial. The conditions attached to bail are to ensure the fulfillment of that primary objective. They are not aimed at restricting the rights of the accused just for the sake of it.

The other reason that a court may have for imposing conditions of bail is to ensure that the accused does not repeat the offence while on bail. Like I said this reason is secondary.

The sum is that the State can only ask that Kanu's bail be revoked where Kanu jumps bail or to some extent, where it shows that Kanu has employed the opportunity of bail to repeat the same offence for which he is being tried. It is instructive that despite what the lay public think, the AGF, from what I have read, has not accused Kanu of repeating the offence of treason for which he is under trial. Being thronged by a crowd, making statements (no matter how offensive any particular person finds them), granting interviews, setting up unarmed group of people and calling them a security service (particularly when there is no complaint that the group has ever attacked or harmed anyone), etc, does not constitute treason or treasonable felony. Kanu is only exercising his rights as a free citizen of Nigeria, just like anyone else. Anyone offended by the statements can approach the civil court for redress.

Of course, Kanu is around in full flesh and blood ready for his trial. Rather than escape, he is making his presence felt in the country. He is living large. This singular fact has the effect to prove that the conditions attached to his bail are unduly restrictive and unconstitutional, contrary to what the public think.

Kanu has appealed the conditions of bail.He has asked the Court of Appeal to review them and nullify them. That appeal by itself is another reason why the application of the AGF is a non starter. As a matter of law, the Court of Appeal now has jurisdiction over the issue of Kanu's bail. The High Court, where he is standing trial, has no further powers over the issue until the Court of Appeal decides on Kanu's right to have those conditions that he is accused of breaching revoked. Any action of the lower court to pronounce upon and and enforce those conditions would be a direct attack on the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal and a breach of Kanu's right to appeal. I am sure that Kanu's lawyers will take the simple step of applying to the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings on the application of the AGF before the lower Court where it is apprehended that the lower court would not apply reason to reject the application outright as being put of order.

The application of the AGF would appear, with all due respect, to have more weight at the public gallery than in the court room.

What the AGF is supposed to move the court on is to accelerate the trial of Kanu. Bail is not the substance of that trial. The trial is supposed to be for treason and treasonable felony.

Acceleration of the trial is what makes sense except the FG has no purpose beyond the trial itself, that is, except the FG conceived the trial as a means of keeping Kanu in jail when it has no real intent to prosecute him and no good case against him. Kanu's lawyer has indeed challenged the FG to proceed with the trial if it does have a case against Kanu.

Any lawyer worth his salt would know that the surest way to delay your case before a court is to bring such distractive applications as the one that the AGF claims to have brought. A lawyer brings this sort of application only as a tactic to delay proceedings and buy time. The application of the AGF is therefore evidence that he does not believe that he has a case that can ensure the conviction of Kanu and so put him away in jail - the very thing that he hopes to achieve by the distractive application.

Apart from a trial and conviction, anything done now to put Kanu in jail will give the unfortunate impression that the entire trial is a means of keeping him unlawfully in jail when there is no good case against him.

By Chuks Nwachukwu

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