Boniface Okonkwo, a South Africa-based businessman who was seized and detained by the Nigeria Police for more than a week over an online comment he made regarding fraudulent Nigerian businessman and People's Democratic Party (PDP) big shot, Emeka Offor, has finally made bail.
Lawyers from Femi Falana chambers, who served as the defendant's attorney at a Magistrate court in Abuja, told Saharareporters that Mr. Okonkwo was let out of police detention after they made a spirited defense of his liberty.
The Magistrate judge, Lamido Kabir, had initially played hide and seek in the case, letting the police detain Mr. Okonkwo over the weekend claiming he was unavailable to hear the case after the suspect was brought to court last Friday.
However, on Monday, the Magistrate gave stiff bail conditions requiring Mr. Okonkwo to provide two sureties, including a traditional ruler and a person with landed property in Abuja.
Yesterday, he was let go after meeting the bail conditions.
Mr. Okonkwo was arrested on July 13 by a dozen well-armed Special Anti-Robbery Squad operatives in Lagos, just four days after arriving from South Africa. Mr. Okonkwo's arrest reportedly emanated from the office of the Inspector General of Police office, who gave the order because of a petition penned by Offor who claimed that Okonkwo "criminally defamed" him in an online commentary in a community listserv of the Orafite community.
Okonkwo, who also hails from Oraifite community, criticized the billionaire for reportedly donating $1.3 million to Rotary International for polio eradication while Oraifite lacks basic amenities and the people suffer abject poverty.
Okonkwo was seized in Lagos but was later moved to a police cell on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria's federal capital. He was denied access to lawyers and relatives, and spent more than two weeks in detention.
Observers say the case demonstrates how Nigeria’s public institutions are often and routinely deployed by the rich by the rich and well-connected against the truth.