The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, granted bail to 12 associates of Yoruba nation separatist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho.
At the hearing preceding the court’s ruling on Wednesday, SSS urged the court not to grant bail to four of the detainees, but had no objection to the bail application of the eight others.
In his ruling, the judge, Obiora Egwuatu, overruled SSS’ objection and granted bail to all the 12 applicants.
He ,however, staked the bail for the four detainees whose bail applications were opposed on a higher bond.
While he granted bail to the four singled out by the SSS in the sum of N10 million, with two sureties each, he pegged the bail bond for the rest eight at N5 million.
The four with higher bail bonds are: Amudat Habibat Babatunde, Abideen Shittu, Jamiu Noah Oyetunji and Bamidele Sunday.
The rest eight are: Abdullateef Ademola Onaolapo, Tajudeen Irinloye, Diekola Jubril Ademola, Ayobami Donald, Uthman Opeyemi Adelabu, Olakunle Oluwapelumi, Raji Kazeem and Taiwo Opeyemi Tajudeen.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the applicants, who had been in SSS’ detention since July 2, had approached the court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
Earlier, the applicants’ lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, had urged the court to grant his clients bail unconditionally.
Mr Olajengbesi made the plea following the production of the 12 detainees in court on Wednesday.
He told the court that contrary to the Section 35(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that a suspect be charged to court within 24 hours, the SSS had kept the applicants for about 34 days in detention.
He said it took the order of the court for the SSS to allow even the legal representatives of these applicants to have access to them.
He said the experience of the applicants in the facility of the respondent was “a bad taste.”
He argued that to continue to keep the applicants in the custody of the service would amount to an affront on the constitution and infringement on their fundamental human rights as provided by the law.
Responding, the lawyer to SSS, I. Awo, opposed the application for bail for only four of the applicants.
He argued that this was due to the level of their involvement in the alleged offences for which they were arrested.
He said investigation so far had revealed high level of complicity on the part of the four detainees whose bail was opposed to by the service.
“As it is, the respondent (SSS) is still investigating this matter and while will we do not oppose granting bail to those applicants earlier mentioned, we seriously believe that it is not in the interest of justice and it will not serve the purpose of national security for these four applicants to be granted bail,” Mr Awo said.
The lawyer further argued that the fear of the service was that if granted bail, they might not make themselves available for further investigation and possible prosecution.
He said the law also gave grounds on which a suspect could be detained beyond 24 hours.
According to him, Section 162 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, set out the conditions or circumstances upon which bail can be refused.
Mr Awo said Paragraph C of the same section provided that where the applicant for bail attempted to intimidate witnesses or interfere with investigation, in such circumstances, bail could be refused.
He said there were credible information on how friends, families and associates of the four applicants were making contacts to the potential witnesses identified by the service.
“They have started making overture to them to compromise investigation and pressurising some not to turn up in the event they (the four applicants) will be charged.
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“We believe strongly that these four applicants who are still needed for further investigation will jeopardise the ongoing investigation if released,” Mr Awo told the court.
Defiance to court order
It will be recalled that the SSS reluctantly produced eight of the detainees in court on Monday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the judge, Mr Egwuatu, on July 23, ordered the SSS to produce the detainees in court on July 29, but the order was flouted by the agency.
At the July 29 proceedings when the SSS was expected to produce all the 12 detainees, the agency’s lawyer, I. Awo, told the court that it only had three detainees who were apprehended at Mr Igboho’s home in Ibadan on July 1.
The court adjourned till Monday (August 2) and restated its order compelling the SSS to produce the detainees in court.
In partial obedience to the court order on Monday, the SSS produced eight of the 12 detainees.
The judge again ordered the spy agency to produce all the defendants on Wednesday. All the 12 detainees were eventually produced in court on Wednesday when they were all granted bail by the court.
The SSS’ reluctance in producing the detainees fits into its pattern of treating court orders with little regard.
The latest in the series of SSS’s habitual disobedience to court orders is the case of five ‘Buhari-Must-Go’ protesters, who were only released from the spy agency’s custody after five days of defying a court order for their release.
Sunday Igboho, in whose house the 12 detainees were arrested, is facing proceedings in Republic of Benin, where he was said to have been apprehended while trying to fly to Germany with his wife.