In this piece, Kunle Olasanmi, looks at the bail recently granted to the accused persons standing trial alongside leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and the blame game among the military, Kanu’s sureties and kinsmen over the disappearance of the Biafra leader after he was granted bail by the court.
About two months ago, precisely on June 18th, 2018, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja granted bail to four persons charged with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu. In granting bail to Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, and Chidiebere Onwudiwe, the court threatened to revoke their bails and return them to prison, if they breach the terms of the bail. Justice Nyako ordered each of the defendants to pay the sum of N10m as bail bonds and two sureties each in like sum.
The Judge ordered them to deposit their international passports with the Court registrars, adding that they should not to leave the country without the permission of the court. “No gatherings or rallies. No interviews. Go and attend to your families,” she said. Since all the accused persons were granted bail, many Nigerians and stakeholders in the judiciary have been asking what has happened to Kanu after he jumped bail and disappeared after his release by the court. Uptill now, Kanu is nowhere to be found since he was granted bail. There has been blame game between the Nigerian Army, his kinsmen and Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe over the where about of the Biafra leader.
The question on the lips of many Nigerians now is, will other co-accused not follow the footstep of their leader if they also jump bail?
Defence lawyers Chukwudi Igwe, P.A.N Ejiofor, and Maxwel Okpara had cited health grounds for their application of the bail of their clients, which the prosecution failed to object to before the application was adjourned for ruling. The accused persons were arraigned alongside Kanu by the federal government on an 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony and illegal possession of firearms, among others. But Kanu was granted bail on health ground by the court.
Senator Abaribe, Immanuel Okabemadu and Tochukwu Uchendu stood as sureties for Kanu as part of his bail conditions, and guaranteed that he would attend his trial after the bail was granted by the court to attend to his failing health.
In addition, they signed a bail bond of N100 million each that would be forfeited in the event that the defendant failed to appear in court to face trial. Sequel
But, since the Nigerian Army stormed Afaraukwu, Abia State, the home town of Kanu, to carry out Operation Python Dance 11, his whereabouts remains unknown.
After this development, the military, IPOB, one of Kanu’s sureties, Senator Abaribe, stakeholder as well as civil society organisation have been locked in blame game over the disappearance of the self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed separatist.
Some civil society organisations even accused British government of aiding his escape from the country
Since Kanu was released on bail, he had failed to appear in court and the question many Nigerians are asking now is, will other accused persons released on bail follow the footsteps of Kanu by jumping bail. So far, no report of their disappearance has surfaced since they were released from custody.
However, Justice Nyako has asked Kanu’s sureties to produce him or risk bail bond. The judge called on them to explain why Kanu was not in court to face trial.
Counsel to Abaribe, Ogechi Ogbonna told the court that the senator did not know Kanu’s whereabouts, adding that Abaribe had already filed a motion to withdraw as Kanu’s surety.
However, Justice Nyako held that it would be impossible for Abaribe to withdraw as surety to Kanu without first producing him in court.
“Before he can wash off his hands, the defendant has to be here,” she said.