– From Amanze Ajiaku –
On June, 2018, the Abia State High Court sitting in Umuahia granted bail to seven out of the nine Jewish worshippers arrested on May 13, 2018 when they had gathered at the home of Nnamdi Kanu in Umuahia to perform a religious ‘pilgrimage’.
Nnamdi Kanu who is the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is also a devout member of the Jewish faith; and he has been missing since September last year sequel to the Python Dance military operations carried out in the Southeast by the Nigerian armed forces.
According to a release from their lawyer, Barrister Aloy Ejimakor, the “seven out of nine granted bail were those that their applications were listed for hearing on June 11. The other two could not be listed the same day but have now been listed for June 19”. Ejimakor added that “just like these seven that just succeeded, I expect to also prevail on the other two”.
Ejimakor, however expressed his “profound disappointment and sadness that all the nine cases could not be listed together for June 11, in addition to the fact that it took so long to list them despite the fact that their bail applications were filed since May 15”.
It will be recalled that the police had arrested the Jewish adherents, now widely referred to as the ‘Jewish Nine’, and charged them with ‘engaging in behavior that frightened a police officer’. Such behavior, according to the Charge Sheet, constitutes an offense under an Abia State law that regards such behavior as an ‘act of terrorism’. Such offenses are triable in the High Court but the police had charged the accused to the Magistrate Court.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Ejimakor criticized what he described as “a prosecutorial regime that deliberately files charges before a court that has no jurisdiction. The injustice of such abusive practice is that the accused persons, upon arraignment before the Magistrate, would be remanded in prison custody pending when the court with jurisdiction (the High Court) will hear their cases”. This is a clear abuse of the criminal justice system geared to exacting illegal incarcerations of non-convicted persons; and it should be discontinued forthwith”.