Again, court to hear Jones Abiri’s bail application

Jones Abiri
Jones Abiri

A Federal High Court in Abuja has slated Monday for hearing of Nigerian journalist, Jones Abiri’s application for the variation of his bail terms.

The lawyer representing Mr Abiri, Emanuel Ogala, told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday that his application for the variation of Mr Abiri’s bail was slated for hearing on Monday.

Mr Abiri had was detained following a court order after his arraignment by federal prosecutors on alleged terrorism and other offences in May.

The court presided over by a judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, had granted stringent bail to Mr Abiri in June after ruling that bail applications in cases of alleged terrorism were only allowed in special circumstances.

Ms Ojukwu decided that Mr Abiri should provide a bond of N100 million with one surety in like sum.

Mr Abiri, who was arrested in 2016 and detained for two years without trial, has not been able to meet the recent bail conditions.

Not the first time

The bail conditions appear similar to that earlier given by a magistrate court during his first trial in 2018 after global campaigns for his release.

The court had also varied that initial condition in 2018 before Mr Abiri accessed bail at the time.

At that first trial on alleged militancy and fraud, the court ordered the bail of Mr Abiri and a co-accused, Collins Opume with a bond of N200 million and two sureties.

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Following a request by his lawyers however, the court varied the conditions, allowing Mr Abiri bail with a condition that he provided two sureties without any financial obligations.

That case was later struck out by the magistrate, Chukwuemeka Nweke.

The Nigerian government has maintained since Mr Abiri’s first arrest that the publisher of Bayelsa based newspaper, Weekly Source, is a leader of a ‘militant group’, the Joint Niger-delta Liberation Force and that he sent messages to multinational oil companies to defraud them.

The journalist has strongly denied the allegations and instituted a case of fundamental rights violation against the government for his two years of detention without trial.

The fundamental rights suit resulted in a judgement of N10 million fine awarded against the Nigerian government.

The judgement, delivered in September 2018, has not been obeyed by the government.

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