Youths, women, men, girls and boys, on Monday, staged a peaceful protest in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of convicted Edmund Ebiware.
Ebiware was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for his alleged involvement in the October 1, 2010 Abuja bomb blast that claimed the lives of 12 persons.
An Abuja Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, had found him guilty of a three-count charge including having foreknowledge of plans to carry out the bombing without alerting the authorities.
A few days ago, the same court that sentenced Ebiware to life in prison, reportedly quashed the treason charge against Charles Okah, the suspected mastermind of the Independence Day bomb blast.
The protesters, under the aegis of Free Edmund Ebiware Concerned Nigerians, claimed that the convict was innocent of the charges preferred against him.
They, therefore, demanded his unconditional release from Kuje Prisons, saying that with the quashing of treason charge against Okah, the accessory charge against Ebiware was null and void, unconstitutional and of no effect.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters, who were not given the permit to demonstrate beyond Azikoro Road, Yenagoa, by the police authorities, read: ‘President Buhari, free my husband’, ‘Edmund Ebiware was unjustly jailed for treason’, ‘Niger Delta wants Ebiware freed’, ‘Release my daddy, he is innocently jailed’, ‘Free my son’, among others.
Spokesman for the protesters, Mr. Miebi Bribina, said the Federal Government under former President Goodluck Jonathan, allegedly convicted Ebiware on trumped-up charges.
He wondered the continued incarceration of Ebiware when the same court that convicted him had quashed the treason charge against Charles Okah, the suspected mastermind of the Abuja bomb blast.
Bribina, a House of Representatives’ candidate in the 2015 general elections, said, ”Ebiware was sentenced to life in prison for accessory to treason. Now, the question is this: How can you sentence an accessory to treason when the main culprit (Charles Okah) has not been sentenced?
”The accessory is to what then? That is the first question begging for an answer. Before you sentence an accessory, the main culprit must have been sentenced. But just on trumped-up charges by the former Federal Government, our brother, Ebiware has been in Kuje Prison for seven years.
”Just last week, the same Justice Gabriel Kolawole that sentenced Ebiware for accessory said that Charles Okah, suspected to be the mastermind of the bombing is not guilty of treason. The court said that the life of former President Goodluck Jonathan was not threatened and that Jonathan was never on that premises that day and that the charge of treason against Okah has been quashed.
”How can you sentence a person for an accessory to nothing? It means that the charge of accessory is null and void.
”Today, we declare that Ebiware as a law abiding citizen, as a young Niger Deltan that was involved in the process of bringing peace to the Niger Delta through the Amnesty Programme, has been patiently waiting for justice to be served to him.”