ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA) – The Zuba Magistrate Court in Abuja has refused to grant bail to Obiajulu Uja, a passenger debarked and handed over to the police for making a sensitive statement about President-elect Bola Tinubu onboard an Ibom Air Abuja-Lagos bound flight.
Ruling in the bail application filed by Mr Uja’s counsel, Senior Magistrate Mohammed Ismail held that the application was premature.
He held that the exhibits attached to the application did not say the defendant was unfit to fail trial but indicated he was of unsound mind.
He also held that while the constitution guarantees every person’s liberty, a court can deprive a person of their liberty based on health grounds.
Citing 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, the magistrate held that Mr Uja could not be granted bail.
He held that where a defendant’s mental capacity is an issue, the court has to ascertain the medical situation of such a defendant.
Mr. Ismail added that the exhibits attached to Mr. Uja’s bail application raised the issue of his medical capacity.
He subsequently turned down the bail application and ordered that Mr. Uja be held at the Kuje Correctional Centre of Nigerian Correctional Service.
The senior magistrate further ordered the head of the centre to take the defendant to a government hospital to ascertain his mental capacity.
He then adjourned until 20 April for a report and hearing.
Mr. Uja had held up the aircraft for over an hour, and it took the efforts of six airport security officers to evacuate him after he started the protest.
The Police accused Mr. Uja of threatening violence and causing a breach of peace with his actions.