Detained pro-Biafran leader bailed on health grounds: court

2017-04-26 14:46
Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu steps out of the courtroom after being granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja. (File: AFP)

Leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu steps out of the courtroom after being granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja. (File: AFP)

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Abuja - A pro-Biafran leader on trial in Nigeria was on Tuesday granted bail, just weeks away from the 50th anniversary of an independence declaration that sparked a brutal civil war.

Judge Binta Nyako, sitting at the Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja, ordered Nnamdi Kanu to be released from custody where he has been held since his arrest in October 2015.

She said it was clear that Kanu, who heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement and ran the London-based Radio Biafra station, had not been well during his trial.

"To enable the prosecution to have a live person to prosecute I am of the opinion that (he) needs better healthcare than the prison service is able to provide," she told the court.

"I hereby exercise my discretion and grant (him) bail on health grounds."

Conditions for Kanu's release include that he pays the court sureties totalling $1m to ensure his attendance at trial.

He was also ordered not to attend any rally, be in a crowd of more than 10 people or give any interviews while on bail.

Kanu and three other defendants have been charged with a series of offences, including treasonable felony. They deny the charges.

Separatist sentiment among the Igbo people of southeast Nigeria has grown in the months since his arrest and sparked bloody clashes with the security forces.

The government has previously refused to release Kanu on bail, despite court rulings from at least three judges, including a regional tribunal of the West African bloc Ecowas.

Fifty years ago on May 30, a unilateral declaration of an independent Republic of Biafra led to civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead, mainly from starvation and disease.

Most of them were Igbos. The conflict ended in 1970.

Kanu's lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor told reporters outside court: "We are happy at the court ruling this morning. We are very sure we will fulfil the conditions for bail."

He said they would "resist any attempt by the Federal Government to flout this order", adding that if that happened, "we will not subject Nnamdi Kanu to further trial".

Read more on:    nnamdi kanu  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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