The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Wednesday, faulted media reports that no judge was available to sign the warrant for the release of 12 persons arrested at the residence of Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, fondly called Sunday Igboho, after they perfected all their bail conditions.
Igboho’s associates are yet to regain their freedom, about 14 days after they were granted bail by the High Court.
This came on a day Justice Ladiran Akintola, an Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan, extended the restraining order in favour of Igboho against the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN; Department of State Service, DSS, and Director of SSS in the state.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu had, in a ruling on August 4, admitted the 12 Applicants, who have been in detention since July 1, on bail in the aggregate sum of N80 million.
While the court gave four of them – Amudat Babatunde, Abideen Shittu, Jamiu Oyetunji and Bamidele Sunday – whose bail applications were opposed by the DSS, bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in the like sum, it granted bail to eight others that the DSS did not raise any objection to their applications – Abdulateef Onaolapo, Tajudeen Irinyole, Diekola Ademola, Ayobami Donald, Uthman Adelabu and three others, to the tune of N5 million with two sureties in the like sum.
The court held that the sureties must be residents in Abuja, adding that one of them must be a civil servant not below Grade Level 12.
All the sureties were directed to submit evidence of payment of tax for the past three years and also depose to an affidavit of means.
More so, the court directed the four Applicants whose bail request was opposed, to report to the office of the DSS every first Monday of the month, for three months, commencing from September 1.
Trial Judge not available to sign release warrant
However, two weeks after the detained persons secured bail, their lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, reportedly decried the absence of the trial Judge to sign the warrant for their release.
Olajengbesi reportedly told journalists that his findings revealed that the judge travelled outside the country for a seminar.
But reacting to the development, Chief Registrar of the High Court, Mr. Emmanuel Gakko, said it was not true that Justice Egwuatu “disappeared”, as reported in the media.
Gakko explained that contrary to the claim in the media, Justice Egwuatu went on a national assignment outside the country.
He stated that though the court is currently on vacation, there are Judges on the ground to handle such matters.
He said the other vacation Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, could sign the bail warrant, adding that the lawyer to the detainees ought to have met the Registrar of the court for direction.
Court extends Igboho’s restraining order against AGF, DSS
Meanwhile, the litigation, instituted by Igboho, followed the bloody raid on his house in Ibadan in the early hours of July 1, by the DSS in collaboration with other security agencies.
During the raid, two persons were killed and about 13 persons among Igboho’s aides were arrested during the operation and were later paraded in the evening of the same July 1 by the DSS in Abuja.
At the resumed hearing, yesterday, Messrs Yomi Alliyu, Adekola Olawoye, and Oladipo Olasope, SANs, appeared for Igboho.
However, Abdullahi Abubakar appeared for AGF, while T. A. Nurudeen, appeared for second and third respondents.
The court had on Wednesday, August 4, granted a restraining order against the DSS and AGF, from arresting, intimidating, harassing and freezing the bank accounts of Igboho.
The case, with suit number M/435/2021, was instituted by Igboho, against the trio of AGF as the first respondent, DSS as the second respondent, and Director of SSS in Oyo State as the third respondent.
Igboho’s lead counsel, Alliyu, SAN, who moved an ex-parte motion before the court, on August 4, had on Friday, July 23, 2021, filed a notice of application for the enforcement of Igboho’s fundamental human rights before the court.
In his ruling, Justice Akintola directed that both the AGF and the DSS be served with the injunctions in Abuja, while the Director of SSS in Oyo State should be served in Ibadan.
The judge also gave the respondents 14 days to make an appearance before the court, before adjourning the case to August 18, for further hearing.
But counsel to the first respondent, Abubakar urged the court for an extension of time for AGF to file his response to the processes filed by Igboho.
Nurudeen, counsel to the second and third respondents, also aligned with the position of Abubakar, as he never objected to it.
But lead counsel to Igboho, Alliyu, vehemently opposed the extension, saying the response should have been filed within five days of the receipt of the court processes.
But Abubakar and Nurudeen filed an application on their preliminary objections to the case, asking the court to vacate the restraining order, and strike out or dismiss the suit. The court, however, adjourned the case to Monday, August 30, for a decision on the application.
In the notice of preliminary objections by the AGF, he challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case, adding that Igboho’s claim of unlawful killing, trespass, assault and battery could not be brought under Fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
On the order not to freeze Igboho’s bank account, the AGF said the blocking of Igboho’s bank account “is a complete action of the second and third respondents, which can only be challenged before the Federal High Court, under Section 251 (r) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).”
Speaking with journalists after the proceedings, Igboho’s counsel, Alliyu, said: “In their motion, they asked the court to extend the time within which they would respond to our processes. We vehemently opposed their application.”
He said: “At the end of the day, the court, in the interest of justice, granted the application, and award N50,000 cost against them. The restraining order granted by the court on August 4 subsists until the application is finally determined. As long as this case goes on, the injunction stays. Although they brought an application that the order should be vacated. So, the court will decide on that on August 30, 2021.”