ABUJA – The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered for the payment and forfeiture of one hundred million naira into its account by each of the sureties to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, pending when they produce him in court. Justice Binta Nyako while responding to an objection raised by Mr Chukwuma Umeh, counsel to the first surety, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on the motion by the Prosecution for them to show cause while their bail bonds should not be forfeited, granted them a space of two months to pay the sum into the court’s account and six months to find and produce Kanu in court.
According to the judge, “The business of the court today (yesterday) is for the sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bonds. So, I’m particularly not interested in whatever that’s unconnected to that. I’m interested in what Mr. Umeh and other counsel representing the three sureties has to say. “I’m going to make an order for the forfeiture of the bail bonds, and I’m still going to give them time to bring it but the bail bonds stand forfeited in the interim. It is going to be paid to the court. “The court hereby orders that the sureties in the interim should deposit the bail bonds in court in the space of two months and it shall remain in court for only 6 months for them to produce my Nnamdi Kanu in court from wherever he is.”
Earlier while explaining reasons for the absence of Sen. Abaribe, his lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma Umeh had told the court that he was out on an oversight function with a committee. “My Lordship, my client ought to be here but unfortunately he is on a national assignment. He is on an oversight function with others and he’s not here,” Umeh informed the court. But in a swift response, the presiding judge threatened to order for Abaribe’s arrest for failing to appear in court to show cause. “Your clients were ordered to show cause, why are they not in court? So, he has gone for an oversight function. I’m not interested in what he’s doing, I’m only interested in his involvement in the case before me. “Mr Umeh’s client decided to go for an oversight function which is more important to him. His oversight function is in a committee, so his one person absence is not going to affect the committee from working. He has a summon from the court which he thinks should await his oversight functions. “I’m going to make an order for his arrest; a bench warrant against him. That is what am going to do, and I’m also making an order that all the sureties should pay the bail bonds into the court and I’m going to give you a time frame to pay it, while the court is going to go after the arrest,” she fumed. Also, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, lawyer to the 3rd surety, Immanu-El Shalom Oka-Ben Madu, while stating reasons on his client’s absence said, “My Lord, my client is seriously ill and it just came to my notice two days ago.”
But in her response, Justice Nyako asked, “why did you not file an affidavit to that effect? What you’re talking about is not before me, I’m only interested in what you filed before me.” In her general response to the sureties’ counsels, the presiding judge said, “The suretyship of the defendant is between the court and the sureties; it has nothing to do with the Prosecution nor the counsel. The sureties have undertaken before the court that any day the court wants the defendant, they’ll produce him. “They’ve failed to produce him, the reason the defendant’s counsel filed a motion that he is with the Army. I heard the case, I disposed of it and you’ve not shown me that he’s with the Army. And because I’ve found out that he’s not with the Army, I come back to the sureties to produce him for whatever reasons. “Irrespective of what you’re telling me, you’ve not complied with the court order. Produce him, you’ve failed to do so. The alternative is to forfeit your bail bonds, you don’t have an argument to give.”
Similarly, in his submission, Mr Frank Chude, lawyer to the 2nd surety, Tochukwu Uchendu, admitted in court that it has become ‘impossible’ to produce the IPOB leader following events that led to his disappearance but the judge simply countered his statement by saying, “it’s not my business, just produce my Nnamdi Kanu.” While stating reasons for the inability of the sureties to produce Kanu in court, Mr Umeh, told the court that it was speculated that the IPOB leader was spotted in Israel, adding that they had written the Nigerian Ambassador in Israel, demanding to know if he was the same with the one standing for trial.
According to him, “There’s a saying that has it that an Nnamdi Kanu was found in Israel. Your Lordship, even the processes before you now are alluding to that and your learned brother has made an order on the basis of that so-called appearance but then, in order to make sure that you’re not being misled, we’ve written a letter to the Nigerian ambassador in Israel to find out if the Nnamdi Kanu said to be there is the same Nnamdi Kanu we’re talking about in this matter.” In her swift reaction to this, Binta Nyako said, “That does not concern me. I’m not interested. You know I’ve severed the proceedings. If at the end of the day, you cannot produce my own Nnamdi Kanu. Those sureties that took my Nnamdi Kanu and have not being able to produce my Nnamdi Kanu for me are in trouble. They’re going to forfeit their bail bonds. “I’m not interested in your reasons. You made an undertaking before me that you will produce him whenever I want. You have lost him for me.” Umeh asked, “If at all the sureties have taken him on bail and he goes out there and was shot dead, could we have brought his dead body to you? And the judge answered, “Yes! The sureties should have come here and say ‘This is the man you asked us to keep and they have killed him for us. “If you say my Nnamdi Kanu is in Israel or in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t matter because these sureties made an undertaking and part of the conditions is that he won’t move out of this country.
“I had an Nnamdi Kanu. I took him in custody. He applied that I should let him go outside my custody. You see, under my custody, I could produce him whenever I wanted him. I knew where he was, I knew where he slept, and what he ate. He applied and said, ‘please let me go, I’ll always come whenever you want me. And these three gentlemen that you said are men of impeccable character have agreed to vouch for him, that whenever I want him, they should bring him to court. That’s the issue at hand. All these extraneous issues you’re trying to bring in order to confuse yourselves, I’m not confused. You’re showing me where Nnamdi Kanu is but it is not for me to bring him, it is for your client to bring him.”
Abaribe’s lawyer, Umeh, also pleaded with the court to rescind its decision to issue bench warrant against his client and it was reversed. According to Umeh, “Your Lordship made an order that one of the sureties must be a senator, and a senator has a small duty he does for his nation. However, if he didn’t come to sign a surety, there would have been a clog. Maybe the gentleman should have remained in prison. “So, he has served well by being a surety; not many could have volunteered to do it. Therefore, for the fact that he did it, he (Nnamdi Kanu) has to be bailed by the court. Bailing is a constitutional right, and if there’s no surety, there can be no bail system.”
The trial judge in reaction to this said, “I’ve heard you and Mr. Ejimakor, his client is sick. No bench warrant will be issued to them. However, the important thing is that I’ve made an order for you to produce your ‘surety’ or you forfeit your bail bond.” The court thereafter adjourned hearing on the suit till March 28, 2019, for continuation.