Court Varies Bail Conditions for Nigerian Journalist Jones Abiri

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Jones Abiri-Credit-Facebook

A magistrate court in Abuja has varied bail conditions for the release of Jones Abiri, a journalist detained without trial for over two years by Nigeria’s security operatives.

Mr Abiri was arrested by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) in July, 2016 and kept incommunicado without a valid case filed in court against him.

After growing outcry, the SSS charged Mr Abiri to court on allegations of involvement in militancy. Mr Abiri was also accused of fraudulently attempting to collect money from multinational oil companies in Nigeria.

The court, seating at Zone 2, last month granted Mr Abiri and his co-accused bail with a bond of N200 million.

The magistrate also said Mr Abiri must provide two sureties who must be senior civil servants on at least Level-15.

However Mr Abiri’s lawyers asked the court to lighten the bail conditions.

Following the request, the magistrate, Chukwuemeka Nweke, said on Wednesday that the journalist should be released on presenting two sureties, one of whom should be a federal government employee not below level 8, residing within the FCT.

He said the civil servant must present his letter of appointment and letter of last promotion.

Regarding the other surety, the court said he could be an executive member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), with landed property in Abuja.

The surety is required to deposit original land title to the court.

The magistrate said address of the sureties should be verified by the police.

According to Mr Nweke, the court decided to revisit the bail condition on the strength of the affidavit deposed before it.

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The magistrate, however, noted his observation of the prosecutor’s submission that Mr Abiri could jump bail.

The court adjourned to August 16 for hearing on the substantive matter.

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