At the resumed hearing in Abuja June 26, 2018 on the bail bond forfeiture order to show cause made against Nnamdi Kanu’s sureties, the Federal High Court ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to respond to an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction filed by Barrister Aloy Ejimakor on behalf of the second surety to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the missing leader of IPOB.
Aloy Ejimakor is representing Emmanuel Shalom Ben Madu, the Jewish high priest who together with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Tochukwu Uchendu stood surety to Kanu. Abaribe’s lawyer, Chukwuma Ume (SAN) had stood in court and aligned himself with Barrister Ejimakor’s Preliminary Objection to jurisdiction.
A summary of Barrister Ejimakor’s argument is that before the court can decide on sureties forfeiting their bail bonds, they are “entitled, as a matter of law, to be put on Notice or served with the evidence used in obtaining the order to show cause before they (the sureties) can be required to produce evidence to contradict it.
Ejimakor cited Section 179(1), Administration of Criminal Justice Act which provides that: “Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the court by which a recognizance has been taken or, when the recognizance bond is for appearance before a court and it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that a recognizance has been forfeited, the court shall record the grounds of proof and may call on any person bound by the bond to pay the penalty thereof or to show cause why it should not be paid”.
Continuing on above premise, Barrister Ejimakor argued “that given that the recognizance at issue here is for appearance of the Defendant, it lies with the Complainant (the Federal Republic of Nigeria) to have proved to the satisfaction of this court that the recognizance has been forfeited. Applicant is neither aware that Complainant ever filed said proof, nor aware that this Honorable Court recorded the grounds of said proof thereof”. After hearing the oral submissions of counsel, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako adjourned the case to November 14, 2018 and ordered that the AGF should respond well ahead of time to afford all parties the opportunity to file any counter reply.
What this means in effect is that Attorney General of the Federation and by extension the Nigerian Army, must first account for what happened at Kanu’s residence on the 14th of September 2017 that led to his non-appearance in court and subsequent disappearance, before any surety can be compelled to forfeit his bond. The Nigerian law is clear on this aspect of bond forfeiture procedure which the government had hoped to circumvent by intimidating Senator Abaribe. Effectively, from the next adjourned date in November the Nigerian army will be on trial for Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts.