Nicolas Mbah, who has been illegally-remanded in Kirikiri Prison since October for participating in the Lagos leg of last year’s #ENDSARS protests, has just regained his freedom.
His lawyer, Orji Ama Onu, confirmed this to FIJ on Wednesday, saying Mbah was only released on Tuesday afternoon due to the “lack of passion by officials at the Yaba Magistrate Court”.
On March 16, the Magistrate Court sitting at Yaba, Lagos, had granted bail to Mbah and Ugwumba Chimiezie who were both standing trial for alleged armed robbery, arson and public disturbance.
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While Chimiezie was released after meeting his bail condition, Mbah, however, got stuck in prison when the strike by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) started in early April.
Ama Onu said the prison officials demanded for the court proceedings for the Magistrate’s order, a process that was unnecessarily delayed.
“The prison warder said the new rule was to get the court proceedings alongside the release warrant and before I could obtain the proceedings from the Magistrate Court, I had to surmount a lot of unnecessary obstancles,” Ama Onu said.
“Even when there was a brief interlude between the strike, we could not do much because the Magistrate didn’t come and the registrars were not passionate enough to summon her to the court.
“Yet, my conscience couldn’t drop the case and allow the young man to rot in prison. It is just so pathetic that I nearly knelt down to beg these registrars to facilitate the court proceedings but they kept giving flimsy excuses like illegibility of the Magistrate’s handwriting and all sorts, until the strike caught up with them in the process. I finally got the assurance of release on Tuesday.”
FIJ had reported how the duo were whisked to Ojo Police Station and accused of participating in the #EndSARS protests that led to the attacks on police stations in the area.
Ruling on the bail application filed on behalf of the defendants by their counsel, the court admitted the two suspects to be bailed with the sum of N50,000 and two sureties in the like sum.