Court Refuses Bail to Air Passenger and Anti-Tinubu Protester

Court Refuses Bail to Air Passenger and Anti-Tinubu Protester

In a recent case that has garnered attention, the Zuba Magistrate Court in Abuja has refused to grant bail to a passenger, Anti-Tinubu protester who was handed over to the police for making a sensitive statement about President-elect, Bola Tinubu, onboard an Ibom Air Abuja-Lagos bound flight. Anti-Tinubu protester, Obiajulu Uja, had filed a bail application through his counsel, but Senior Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez Ismail, sitting in Zuba, Abuja, ruled that the application was premature.

The Magistrate noted that the exhibits attached to the application did not indicate that the defendant was unfit to stand trial but rather raised issues about his mental capacity. He also cited the provisions of Section 35(1)(e) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 278 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, which allowed the court to deprive a person of their liberty based on health grounds.

Furthermore, the Magistrate emphasized that when the mental capacity of a defendant is at issue, the court has a duty to ascertain the medical situation of such a defendant. As a result, he ordered that Uja be held at the Kuje Correctional Centre of Nigerian Correctional Service and that the head of the center take the defendant to a government hospital to ascertain his mental capacity.

The incident took place when Uja held up the aircraft for over an hour, causing a breach of peace, and threatening violence. Six airport security officers had to evacuate him after he started the protest. While the constitution guarantees every person’s liberty, the Magistrate held that Uja cannot be granted bail until his mental capacity is established.

The case has been adjourned until April 20 for report and hearing. The decision of the court emphasizes the importance of mental health in legal proceedings and underscores the need to ensure that defendants are mentally competent to stand trial.

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