Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has ordered Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two other persons who stood as sureties to secure bail for Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), to deposit N300million bail bond into the court’s account.
The two other sureties are Ben Elshalom, a Jewish priest, and Tochukwu Uchendu.
The sureties had signed a bail bond of N100million each to secure the release of Kanu on bail on April 25, 2017.
However, since the invasion of Kanu’s home in Abia State in September, 2017, during a military operation code named, “Operation Python Dance ll”, the embattled IPOB leader has not been seen again.
After several adjournments occasioned by the inability of Nnamdi Kanu to appear in court to face trial, on March 28, 2018 Justice Nyako, in a ruling on an application by the prosecution counsel, ordered the sureties to either produce the defendant in court, risk arrest or forfeit the bail bond.
Having failed to produce Kanu in court as directed, Justice Nyako on June 26, 2018, ordered the three sureties to appear yesterday to show cause why the bail bond of N100million each should not be forfeited.
During the proceedings yesterday, only one of the sureties, Tochukwu Chudi was in court, while Senator Abaribe and Ben Elshalom, a Jewish Priest were absent.
The prosecution counsel, Labaran Shuiabu had told the court that the matter was slated for the three sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit the bail bond.
For the record, the prosecution counsel chronicled the genesis of the process which he said started on October 10, 2017, pointing out that since then, the defendant had failed to show up in court for his trial.
Consequently, Shuiabu posited that “the coast is clear for the sureties to appear today and now to show cause why the N100million bail bond they signed should not be forfeited.”
Reacting, Chukwuma Machukwu Umeh SAN, counsel to Abaribe informed the court that the senator went on an oversight function with the Senate Committee on Niger Delta.
Interjecting, the court noted that Abaribe should have come to court because according to Justice Nyako, “a member’s absence cannot affect the work of the committee.”
Justice Nyako had insisted that the sureties must produce Nnamdi Kanu in court or forfeit the bail bond.
Why noting that the sureties had written the court indicating their resolve to withdraw their surety, Justice Nyako said, “This is a lesson to some of you to be cautious and careful before undertaking to be a surety.
“Before accepting to be a surety for an accused, the person must be somebody you can vouch for and you can produce at anytime in court.”
However, it took the plea of Abaribe’s counsel and Aloy Ejimakor, counsel to the Jewish Priest, to persuade the court to rescind its decision of issuing a bench warrant against the sureties.
The court threatened to order the arrest of the sureties or order the interim forfeiture of the bond.
Apparently not happy with the excuses given by Chukwuma Machukwu Umeh and Aloy Ejimakor, counsel to the Jewish Priest, as to why the sureties were not in court, Justice Nyako decided to soft pedal.
Rather than to order the arrest of the sureties, the court however ordered that the bail bond be deposited in the interim in the account of the Federal High Court within two months.
The court also gave the sureties six months to produce Nnamdi Kanu, adding that the order can only be discharged upon reasonable grounds.
The matter has been adjourned to March 28, 2019.
Meanwhile, one of the sureties, Tochukwu Nwude had filed a motion on notice brought pursuant to Section 174(A) and (B), 177, and 179 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, and Section 36I and 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The motion filed by Frank Chude on behalf of Uchendu is seeking “an order directing the Nigerian Police to Arrest and produce Nnamdi Kanu before the court.
Uchendu also wants an order suspending his obligation on the bond until the whereabouts of Kanu is established.
Uchendu predicated his motion on the grounds that the court had granted the 1st defendant (Kanu) bail on the 25th day of April, 2017.
He pointed out that while Kanu was on bail, he had a confrontation with the military, an arm of the state, and “that since then his whereabouts is unknown and he has not been seen”.
An affidavit deposed to by Uchendu, stated that after the invasion of the residence of Kanu by the Nigerian Army on September 14, 2017, he has not been seen in the public since.
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