American Peace Worker Granted Bail In Nigeria

A Nigerian court granted bail on Tuesday to an American peace worker and her Nigerian colleague accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Judith Asuni and colleague Danjuma Saidu were arrested on September 26 and accused of helping two German documentary makers film oil industry facilities and advising them to lie to obtain visas. They pleaded not guilty and Asuni said she was the victim of a political vendetta.

The two Germans, Florian Opitz and Andy Lehmann, were granted bail on October 5, but Asuni and Saidu had been kept in detention, prompting the U.S. embassy to express concern for her treatment.

Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako granted bail on condition that each pays a deposit of 10 million naira, does not leave Abuja, leaves their travel documents and reports fortnightly to the State Security Service.

“That is an important victory because they could have said there were security issues,” said defence counsel Yemi Osinbajo.

The judge also ordered the prosecution to present its evidence to the court and set a trial date for November 29.

The prosecution has repeatedly hinted that Asuni was guilty of more serious offences than those contained in the charge sheet, but has yet to provide any evidence.

Asuni, 60, has been based in Nigeria for 36 years and also has Nigerian citizenship. Her work has included disarmament and demobilisation projects in which Niger Delta militants are encouraged to hand over their weapons and pursue dialogue.

She is a personal friend of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who stepped down in May, and has numerous contacts in government and militant circles.

Source: Reuters

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