The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, threatened to issue bench warrant for arrest of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two other persons that stood surety for the ‘missing’ leader of the Indegeniuos People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
Trial Justice Binta Nyako maintained that Abaribe who is representing Abia South Senatorial District, a Jewish High Priest, Emmanu El-Salom Oka Ben Madu and an accountant, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu, undertook to ensure Kanu’s availability to face the treason charge against him.
She ordered that the sureties should in the interim, forfeit the N100million bail bond they each signed to secure Kanu’s release from prison custody.
“The court hereby order the sureties to in the interim, deposit the bail bond in the court within two months. This order is going to pend in the interim for six months”, Justice Nyako held.
The court however fixed March 28 to hear applications the sureties filed to adduce reasons why they could not produce Kanu to continue his trial.
The Federal Government had shortly after the case was called up for hearing, urged the Judge to compel the three sureties to either produce Kanu or permanently forfeit the N300m bail bond.
Government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, noted that all the sureties were already served with an order the court made for them to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for failing to produce the Defendant. At this juncture, trial Justice Nyako asked if all the sureties were present in court.
Responding, Abaribe’s lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma Umeh, SAN, told the court that his client pleaded to be exempted from the proceeding as he joined the Senate Committee on Niger Delta on an oversight function.
Similarly, counsel to the Jewish Priest, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, told the court that his client was seriously sick and hospitalised in Port Harcourt.
The third surety was however present in court. Irked by reasons Abaribe and the Jewish Priest gave for their absence in court, Justice Nyako, threatened to order their immediate arrest.
The Judge was particularly angry with Abaribe who she said chose to embark on an oversight function despite being aware of a pending court summon against him.
“I shall order his arrest. I am taking today’s proceeding very serious. The sureties have taken this court for granted for too long. The appearance of the sureties is between them and the court, not even the prosecution.
“They had an undertaken before the court that any day the Defendants are wanted that they will produce them. They have failed to produce him.
“Though each of the sureties have applied to be excused, but they can’t be excused at this point. You only have two options, produce him or forfeit your bail bond.
“This should serve as a lesson to all of you that before you take anybody on bail, you must be certain that it is a person that you can vouch for”, Justice Nyako fumed.
It took passionate plea from all the lawyers to persuade the Judge not to order the arrest of Abaribe and his co-sureties.
Abaribe’s lawyer told the court that his client earlier wrote a letter to the Nigerian Ambassador to Israel, seeking to confirm the veracity of claims that “one Nnamdi Kanu” was sighted in the country. However, Justice Nyako said she was not interested in the letter or its outcome.
“If at the end of the day you do not produce my own Nnamdi Kanu, all the sureties will be in serious trouble.
“Whether my Nnamdi Kanu is in Saudi Arabia or in even in nearby Ghana, what matters at this point is that these surties made an undertaken that he will not leave the shores of this country.
“They have also failed to produce him or to show that he is dead. I gave him to them and they have lost him. So all I am saying is that they should bring back my own Nnamdi Kanu that I released to them”, the Judge added.
Meantime, the case got additional twist, following an application from the surety that was in court on Wednesday, Uchendu, asking the Nigerian Police Force to extradite Kanu from Israel and produce him before the court.
In the motion be filed through his lawyer, Mr. F. N. Chude, Uchendu, attached two video clips showing Kanu where can was praying at a site in Israel and where he granted an interview to an Israeli national television station.
Uchendu prayed the court to direct the Police to arrest Kanu or to suspend his obligations on the bail bond until the IPOB leader returns to Nigeria or is arrested.
Meanwhile, Justice Nyako has fixed March 26 and 27 for continuation of hearing on the case involving four other pro-Biafra agitators that are facing trial over their links with Kanu and the Radio Biafra.
Though the Defendants were in court, their trial could however not proceed owing to the inability of the Federal Government to produce its witness in court.
Kanu was hitherto facing five-count treasonable felony charge alongside the four other Defendants – Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
Aside allegation that he imported Radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L, which was concealed in a container that was declared as used household items, for the purpose of using same to disseminate information about secession plans by the IPOB.
FG alleged that Kanu had “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The court had since separated Kanu’s trial from that of his co-defendants. Justice Nyako had on June 25, granted the four Defendants bail to the tune of N10million each with two sureties in like sum. (Vanguard)