On December 4, a court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, heard Onitsha’s bail application and on January 25 the court granted him bail with a condition that he provides two sureties—persons willing to take responsibility for any court decisions made if Onitsha fails to meet bail obligations—with a bond of 10 million naira (US$8,372), according to copies of the court ruling, reviewed by CPJ, and Onitsha’s lawyer, Anande Terungwa, who spoke by phone with CPJ.
The court also ordered the residence of the sureties must be verified by the court registrar and that the sureties must submit documents proving they own a landed property in Abuja, as well as their recent passport photographs, according to those same sources.
Onitsha’s next court date is March 19. If convicted, he faces a 25 million naira (US$20,930) fine and/or up to 10 years in jail on the cyberstalking charges—as well as potential imprisonment for two years for charges of defamation and the publication of defamatory matter under the Criminal Code Act, according to Terungwa and a copy of the charge sheet reviewed by CPJ.
Terungwa told CPJ that the delay between Onitsha being granted bail on January 25 and his release on February 1 was due to a prolonged verification process among officials and prosecution lawyers on the conditions of Onitsha’s bail.
Onitsha appeared in CPJ’s 2023 prison census, which documented at least 67 journalists jailed across Africa as of December 1.
Read More: https://cpj.org/2024/02/after-nearly-4-months-in-jail-nigerian-journalist-saint-mienpamo-onitsha-freed-on-bail/