Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has yet again ordered the senator representing Abia South at the National Assembly, Enyinnaya Abaribe, and two others who stood as sureties for the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to produce him in court on June 26.
The two other sureties are Tochukwu Uchendu and Emmanuel Shallom Ben, a Jewish high priest.
Justice Nyako had in a bench ruling on October 10, 2017, given the three sureties options of either producing Kanu in court, forfeiting the bail bond they signed, or go to jail if the IPOB leader failed to appear in court to face his trial.
The sureties had signed a bail bond of N100 million 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 II’, the embattled IPOB leader has not been seen.
The sureties and Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, have accused the Nigerian army of being responsible for Kanu’s disappearance, and have asked them to produce him in court.
When Kanu did not show up in court on February 20, 2018, Justice Nyako ordered Senator Abaribe and the two other sureties to produce him in court or forfeit the bail bond, or risk jail.
At a resumed sitting on Wednesday, Abaribe, Uchendu, and the Jewish high priest were in court but Kanu was yet conspicuously absent.
Making submissions, the prosecution counsel, Shuiabu Labaran, told the court that the business of the day was for the three sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit the bail bond or jailed for their failure to produce Kanu in court for him to face prosecution.
After Labaran’s submission, Chukwuma Umeh (SAN), counsel to Abaribe; Franklin Chude, representing Tochukwu Uchendu (2nd surety), and Alloy Ejimakor, representing Emmanuel Shallom Ben (3rd surety), all opposed the prosecution’s application for them to show cause.
Abaribe’s lawyer, in urging the court to discountenance the submission of the Federal Government’s lawyer, contended that the enroll order made on February 20, 2018, was not served on the sureties.
“My lord, the ruling of your lordship has not been served on us, and an order having not been served on a party cannot be used against the party,” Umeh argued.
Umeh insisted that the court must make an enroll order, which must be served on the sureties before they could be asked to show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bond or go to jail.
Counsel to the two other sureties all aligned themselves with the submission of Umeh.
Responding, the prosecution counsel argued that “justice cannot be sacrificed on the altar of technicality”.
Labaran pointed out that Abaribe’s lawyer had been in the matter since 2017, pursuant to which the court had given the three sureties time to “show cause”.
The prosecution disclosed that Umeh had filed an application as to why Abaribe could not produce Kanu in court.
On his part, the Federal Government’s lawyer said he had joined issues with Umeh sequel to the application.
“We have joined issues with the 1st surety on his application, but his sudden U-turn this afternoon is belated,” Labaran stated.
He, therefore, urged Justice Nyako to discountenance the line of argument of the sureties.
Having listened to all parties, the presiding judge made an enroll order that the sureties must produce Kanu in court, or forfeit the bail bond, or in the alternative, risk jail.
The court held that the prosecution must serve the enroll order on the sureties.
The matter was adjourned to June 26 for the sureties to come and show cause why they should not forfeit the bail bond or go to jail.