Reports have it that Yunusa Dahiru, alias Yellow, accused of abducting and forcefully marrying a 14-year-old Ese Oruru from Bayelsa State, was on Monday granted bail by the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa.
Yunusa, who is from Kano state is standing trail on a five-count charge of abduction, illicit sex and unlawful canal knowledge of Ese.
The court presided over by Justice H.A Ngajiwa resumed in Yenagoa to rule on a bail application filed by Yunusa’s five-man team of lawyers led by Mr. Kayode Olaosebikan.
The court was congested as persons from different walks of life came to hear the matter and to catch a glimpse of the slim tall Yunusa.
Seats were not enough as many observers especially journalists stood up while the proceeding lasted.
Clad in white t-shirt and cream shorts, Yunusa, who was in the dock looked emaciated and bowed his head throughout the period of the proceeding.
Ese’s parents, Charles and Rose; Chairman and members of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Chief Nengi James, Ankio Briggs, Alagoa Morris and State Coordinator, Women of Excellence, Mrs. Tariere Gita, were present in court for the matter.
The judge ruled that the felonies committed by Yunusa were bail able and asked the suspect to provide N3million, two sureties resident within the court’s jurisdiction and write an undertaking that he would not jump bail.
As part of the conditions for the bail, one of the sureties must be a renowned title holder and a public servant on grade level 12 who must provide first appointment and promotion letters.
The judge further ordered that the sureties must provide their tax clearance certificates.
Ngajiwa’s verdict was based on application deposed by the defendant and supported by a seven-paragraph affidavit in line with the rules of the court on whether or not Yunusa was entitled to bail.
The judge said the application averred that the grounds for bail were within the discretion of the court and in exercising that discretion the court must act judicially and judiciously.
He said that Yunusa’s lawyers in the application argued that the accused person is innocent until proven guilty adding that Yunusa had no records of criminal behaviour and was not likely to jump bail.
The lawyers argued that since the offence was bail-able and there were people who were ready to stand surety for the suspect, Yunusa was entitled to bail.
Ngajiwa also faulted a 10-paragraph application opposing the bail filed by the prosecution.
He said the argument of the prosecution that the accused person would not come for trial since he is not resident in the state was defective and would not stop the granting of bail.
He cited sections 158 and 162 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act and Section 36 (5) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 as amended, and insisted that the felonies committed by Yunusa were bailable.
He said: “In Section 36 (5), every person charged with criminal offence is innocent until proven guilty. Investigations had been concluded and the accused person denied committing the offence. He was living in Yenagoa till August 2015. The offence is bailable and the court has discretion to grant the bail”.
He added: “The offences charged are serious felonies but no matter how felonious, it will not stop the court from granting bail. The court will impose such conditions that will force the accused person to come for his trial.”
Speaking after the proceedings, the Ankio Briggs who is the founder of Agape Rights Organisation (ARO) said they were doubtful the state would ensure diligent prosecution of the case.
She said beyond rhetoric, the Delta, Bayelsa states and all the governors in the Niger Delta region had not shown commitment to the matter.
She further said they were yet to see the team of lawyers that the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, promised he was going to constitute to help in the prosecution of the case.
She said: “This thing happened in the Niger Delta. It has been going on and we believe it will continue to go on. If we say that justice is for everybody then justice should be seen to be carried out so that everybody is satisfied.
“How can somebody carry a child from Bayelsa to Kano state, keep her for eight months, impregnate her, change her religion; what are they saying? Is he the father of the child?
“Who is the father of the child? Is she going to have the baby? These are so many things that are personal. The circumstance in which she got pregnant is very offensive.
“With all due respect, this case is a very volatile case, it is very serious case. I am not satisfied with the handling of the case by the Delta and Bayelsa state government. Maybe, because the parents are poor”.
She further described as offensive the claims of Yunusa’s lawyers that his affairs with Ese was that of Romeo and Juliet.
She said: “Which kind Romeo and Juliet? Ok, all these people who are calling it Romeo and Juliet, let a Keke Napep driver kidnap their 13 years old daughter and then say they are in love.
“What type of love is that? What sort of Romeo and Juliet is that? The law say that a 13 years old girl has no right to find herself in a position of Romeo and Juliet, full stop and that is what the law says”.