Yunusa Dahiru (aka Yellow), the man accused of abducting and forcefully marrying 14-year-old Ese Oruru from Bayelsa State, was yesterday granted bail by the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Yunusa, who hails from Kano State, is standing trial on five-count of abduction, illicit sex and unlawful carnal knowledge of the teenager.
The court, presided over by Justice H. A. Ngajiwa, resumed hearing to rule on a bail application filed by Yunusa’s five-man team of lawyers, led by Mr. Kayode Olaosebikan.
The court was congested with curious persons from various walks of life to catch a glimpse of the embattled Yunusa.
Even reporters had to stand throughout the period of the proceedings.
Clad in a white T-shirt and long cream shorts, Yunusa looked emancipated. He bowed his head throughout the period of the proceedings.
Ese’s parents, Charles and Rose; Chairman and members of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Chief Nengi James, Ankio Briggs, Alagoa Morris and the State Coordinator of Women of Excellence, Mrs. Tariere Gita, were in court for the proceedings.
Justice Ngajiwa held that Yunusa’s offences were “bailable”, adding that the suspect be provided N3 million, two sureties – who must be residents within the court’s jurisdiction – and an undertaking that he would not jump bail.
One of the sureties, the judge held, must be a renowned title holder and a public servant on Grade Level 12 and must provide first appointment and promotion letters.
The judge also ordered that the sureties must provide their tax clearance certificates.
Justice Ngajiwa’s verdict was based on an application deposed to 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 stipulates that the grounds for bail were within the discretion of the court, adding that in exercising the discretion, the court must act judicially and judiciously.
He said Yunusa’s lawyers, in the application, argued that the accused remained innocent until proven guilty because he had no records of criminal behaviour and was not likely to jump bail.
The lawyers argued that since the offence was “bailable” while there were people who were ready to stand surety for the suspect, Yunusa was entitled to bail.
Justice Ngajiwa also faulted a 10-paragraph application opposing the bail filed by the prosecution.
The judge said the argument of the prosecution that the accused would not come to trial since he is not resident in the state was defective and would not stop the merit of the bail.
He cited sections 158 and 162 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act and Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), insisting that Yunusa’s offences were “bailable”.
Justice Ngajiwa said: “In Section 36 (5), every person charged with a criminal offence is innocent until proven guilty. Investigations had been concluded and the accused denied committing the offence. He was living in Yenagoa till last August. 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, they will not stop the court from granting bail. The court will impose such conditions that will force the accused to come for his trial.”
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