THE Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has petitioned the National Judicial Commission, NJC, over continued detention of 19 of its members, including a cripple, in prison custody since April, 2007.
POB protesters grounding Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, during their 1 Million March, to call for the immediate release of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu was arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, on his way into Nigeria from UK The detained MASSOB members are Sebastian Amadi, Ikechukwu Chikwem, Peter Igbokwe, Uchenna Nicholas, Uche Idika, Casmir Odokara, Eni Kalu, Chidiebere Ekwem, Chima Asoh (cripple), Ojimba Anyanwu, Ndubuisi Okanu, Emmanuel Orji, Michael Okezie, Ikechukwu Aghari, Mmaduabuchi Asika, Chinwike Irondi, Chukwuma Kalu, Innocent Orji and Onyekachi Orji (female).
MASSOB leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu told reporters in Awka, on Wednesday, that continuous adjournment of their case at the Federal High Court, Awka has complicated the matter, adding that many of them have become very sick.
The affected persons are facing a seven-count charge bordering on treason, acts of terrorism and kidnapping. When their case came up in Awka, the presiding judge was absent and the affected MASSOB members cried and wailed, wondering why they should be in detention for nine years without being granted bail.
Madu said: â€œThe pro-Biafra groups who have been languishing in prisons since 2007. Three judges had handled the matter, yet they had not been granted bail. Justice Peter Olayiwola started the matter and handed over to Justice Ojukwu before Justice M.I. Abubakar took over.
Justice Abubakar was later transferred to Abakaliki, yet he has not allowed the new Judge in Awka to handle the matter as he comes occasionally from Abakaliki to preside over the MASSOB case.
â€œSince nine years, the prosecution has called only three witnesses and our lawyer has not been allowed to call any witness.
What surprised us was that the judge said he would transfer the case file from Awka to Abakaliki which, to us, will make the attendance to court sittings more difficult for us.
â€œWe are also surprised that he wants to transfer the case to Abakaliki when we had taken a fresh plea from the new judge in Awka. At the last sitting, Justice Abubakar was absent and we were informed that he had adjourned the matter to October 26 this year.
â€œAs far as we are concerned, the Judge has abused the rights of the detainees by refusing to grant them bail and deliberately frustrating the hearing of the matter. Why canâ€™t he allow the new Judge presiding here in Awka to continue with the matter?â€
Last week, the MASSOB leader called on the governors of Anambra and Imo states to facilitate the release of the detained MASSOB leaders in the interest of justice and equity.
Culled from VANGUARD NEWSPAPER