The Bayelsa State Government is unhappy that a state High Court in Yenagoa granted bail to a government critic charged for sedition, after he accused Governor Douye Diri’s administration of diverting N3 billion agricultural loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The critic, John Idumange, is a former head of a state-run radio station, Radio Bayelsa, and was also an aide to the former governor of the state, Seriake Dickson.
Mr Idumange was arrested on March 10 by the police, apparently on the order of the Bayelsa government, at the gate of a private radio station in Yenagoa, where he was expected to speak on his allegations against the government.
He was arraigned before a chief magistrate who gave the police power to remand him for 30 days “to enable the police conclude investigation”.
But the order was vacated by the state High Court judge, Ebiyerin Omukoro, who granted bail to Mr Idumange on March 15, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
NAN reported that the case was scheduled for hearing before Justice Umukoro on Tuesday but was stalled because the Chief Judge of the state, Kate Abiri, reassigned it to another judge, following a request by the Attorney-General of the state, Biriyai Sambo (SAN).
Mr Sambo, according to the NAN report, had expressed doubt over Justice Omukoro’s fairness in the case.
He said the judge vacated the remand order by a lower court and granted Mr Idumange bail without hearing the opposition to the bail application.
Governor Diri, Dickson speak on the case
The former governor of Bayelsa, Mr Dickson, who is now a senator representing the state, had discredited Mr Idumange over his remark against his successor and the state government.
The senator said he had no hand in the attack against Mr Diri’s administration.
He said he remained supportive of the administration.
“I want to advise that no one who is supportive of me, a member of our party or who claims to be, should be publicly critical of our government. This is unacceptable,” he added.
Mr Diri, meanwhile, has dismissed Mr Idumange’s allegations as a ploy to blackmail and arm-twist his administration to give appointments.
“Let me say it clearly before the full glare of the press that we are open to criticism if they are constructive, but this one is entirely not based on facts, the funds are being managed by CBN and warehoused at Access Bank.
“The N3 billion is not in the treasury of Bayelsa Government to be disbursed and the CBN has come here to say that no funds are missing.
“I want to tell Chief Idumange that I am not the type of person to be blackmailed into giving out appointments,” the governor said.