Protest Against Naron Tribunal: 24 Activists Get Stringent Bail

TWO weeks after they have been remanded in prison custody, the 24 human rights activists who were accused of seditious publication, unlawful gathering, breach of peace and conspiracy against the Justice Thomas Naron-led Tribunal that upheld the now set aslde election of the embattled Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola have been granted bail.

It would be recalled that one of the activists, Mr Saibu Adeoye slumped in the court, when he heard that they were to be remanded in prison custody for the second time on the same allegation.
The rights activists were admitted to bail following a formal bail application filed by the defence counsel to the suspects, Mr Wale Afolabi, who maintained that the charges levelled against the accused persons were bailable.

In a 22-paragraph affidavit in support of the bail application, which was dated March 25, 2009, Afolabi, who led other six counsel, informed the court that the activists had earlier been admitted to bail when they were first arraigned.

It would be recalled that the rights activists were arrested by armed policemen led by the state Commissioner of Police, Osun State Command, Mr John Moronike, at the premises of Osogbo High Court, Oke-Fia, Osogbo the state capital ln July, 2008.

The activists had staged a peaceful protest to the court premises against alleged secret conversations between members of the Naron-led Tribunal and one of the lead counsel to Oyinlola, Mr Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), which was published by a national news magazine, “The NEWS.

Objecting to the bail application, the police prosecution counsel, Mr Ayuba Adekunle (DSP) in his counter-affidavit, asserted that the activists would jump bail and would interfere in the police investigation on the case.

However, the presiding magistrate, Mr Olalekan Ijiyode, who stood down the ruling on the bail application last Monday till 12.30pm, left the court for a meeting with the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Fasaasi Ogunsola, Justice Jide Falola and many others at the High Court premises, Osogbo.

Ijiyode did not come back to the court for the ruling nor disclosed his whereabouts to the counsel on the matter.

Reading the ruling last Tuesday, Ijiyode maintained that bail was a constitutional rights of the accused persons, which he said should not be restrained on flimsy excuses.

This statement was a contradictory clause to the action of the magistrate who had earlier revoked the bail of the activists on what he described as a provocative statement made by a counsel to the suspects, Mr Gbenga Akano.

Akano had earlier urged the court not to allow itself to be used by the power that be in the state while applying for the bail of the activists, a statement that the magistrate said was insultive.

Ijiyode, who said the objection raised by the police prosecutor was not substantive to warrant the detention of the rights activists granted bail to the suspects in the sum of N500,000 and one surety each.
He added that the sureties must be a level 14 civil servant or a top political office holder and must be a resident within the court jurisdiction.