Obiajulu Uja, a passenger detained and turned over to the police for making a critical remark regarding President-elect Bola Tinubu on board an Ibom Air flight from Abuja to Lagos, was denied bail on Tuesday by a Zuba Magistrate Court in Abuja.
Senior Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez Ismail of Zuba, Abuja, ruled that the bail application submitted by Uja through his attorney was premature.
Mohammed declared that the application’s exhibits did not state that the defendant was incompetent to stand trial, but rather that they showed he was mentally unwell.
He further argued that although the constitution guarantees everyone’s freedom, a court may deny someone their freedom for reasons related to their health.
Stating 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, the Magistrate held that Uja cannot be granted bail.
He argued that when a defendant’s mental ability is in question, the court has a responsibility to learn about their medical history.
The materials that accompanied Uja’s bail application, he said, brought up the question of his medical fitness.
The judge then denied the request for bail and mandated that Uja be detained at the Nigerian Prisons Service’s Kuje Correctional Complex.
Ismail further directed that the defendant be taken to a government hospital to be evaluated for his mental competence.
He then called a break until the report and hearing on April 20. Uja had been preventing the plane from taking off for more than an hour, and it required the efforts of six airport security agents to remove him after he began the protest.
Obialuju was charged by the police for making threats of violence to the President-Elect and disturbing the peace of fellow airline passengers on board the flight.
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