It is no news that I am not a big fan of Nnamdi
Kanu and his sympathizers. It is also no news that I
have on several occasions condemned his
methodology and political and ethnocentric salvos.
On a personal note, he is not my ideal freedom
But I’m upset. As a member of the Bar and a
minister in the temple of justice, I am afraid for
Lady Justice. I may not like some dramatic
personas. I may hate their political and
sociocultural ideologies but it is important that in
my hatred I do not reduce them to nothing by
striping them of their fundamental human rights.
Worse still is when the institution found remiss is
the last hope of the common man- The Courts.
I may not like what you say but my humanity must
defend your right to say it. This explains why a few
days ago I defended someone against the tyranny
of Online Feminists. Folks who wanted him to
choose between his job and his voice. ‘Keep your
job as long as you shut up’ is their maxim. In their
world, you cannot have both. Yet, the law of nature,
as espoused by Aristotle and Aquinas, endows
every human with inalienable right to hold certain
thoughts and give expression to them. I say this in
Nnamdi Kanu was granted bail and the bail
conditions make me wince. The conditions are to
say the least antithetical to justice.
one of whom must be a Senator, another a Jewish
Religious Leader and then one Prominent Nigerian;
in the sum of #100 million naira each. So far, these
conditions are within the unfettered discretion of our
courts to grant, no matter how novel and awkward
they may be. I have no grouse with them. But when
the courts begin to trample on inalienable freedoms
ad rights of people, then there is fire on the
mountain and someone ought to sound the alarm.
For example, Mr. Kanu must not grant interviews or
press briefings during his bail. He must also not be
found in the company of people numbering more
than ten (10). In lay man’s language, he cannot
freely speak and he cannot freely associate. Guys,
this is judicial extremism in embryo. It must be
aborted before it grows further.
For the benefit of non lawyers, this is the logic
behind grant of bail by courts: By virtue of Section
36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria (CFRN), a suspect standing trial is
presumed to be innocent until the contrary is
proved. Hence, granting him/her bail is a way of
safeguarding section 36(5). An innocent man ought
to be free. In fact, he is free until a court of law
decides otherwise. Sureties are therefore appointed
to ensure production of the suspect whenever his
guilt or innocence is to be determined in court. In
the eye of the CFRN, therefore, Mr. KANU remains
an innocent man. This is Constitutional Democracy.
By those latter bail conditions, however, the court
has indirectly convicted Mr. Kanu without trial. A
man that is presumed innocent cannot speak freely.
A man that is presumed innocent cannot associate
freely. Two freedoms that are guaranteed in
Sections 39 and 40 of the CFRN, the same
Document that created the courts. Do you see the
Our courts are not more powerful than the ink that
created them. They must therefore respect the ink in
those sections of the law, except where there exists
a constitutional excuse to do otherwise.
All lawyers know that the discretion of Judges must
be exercised judicially and judiciously, and not
arbitrarily or whimsically. Where such discretion will
offend Sections 33-44 of the CFRN (which enshrine
fundamental human rights of persons), the courts
must resist the temptation to exercise such
discretion; unless the discretion will restate and
reaffirm those fundamental human rights.
Nnamdi Kanu may have been granted bail, but if he
cannot speak freely and associate freely he is still
in jail. Worse still, he is no longer innocent.
Innocent men speak freely and associate freely.
Our fight to protect human freedoms and dignities
is not holistic until we purge our temples of justice.