Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice Binta Nyako of a the federal high court sitting in Abuja has ordered Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others, who stood as sureties for the bail of the ‘missing’ leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to produce him in court on June 16 or risk jail terms.
The court fixed the date yesterday after ordering the prosecution to serve the sureties with an enrolled order it earlier made directing them to appear in court and explain the whereabouts of Kanu or show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bond.
Abaribe, who is represents Abia South Senatorial District, Immanuel El-Shalom, a Jewish chief high priest, and a chartered accountant residing in Abuja, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu, had on April 28, 2017, entered an undertaking to produce Kanu before the court to face his trial, and deposited N100 million each.
When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the sureties observed that the court order had not been served on their clients to enable them prepare for their defence.
Counsel to Abaribe, Chukwuma Umeh, SAN, was the first to raise the issue when he urged the court to direct that an enrol order be issued and served on his client by the prosecution.
According to him, his position was on the ground of fair hearing as provided for in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
“I apply that the proper thing be done, that is for a summon to be issued and served on the sureties for them to show cause why their bail bond should not be forfeited.
“The prosecution ought to have taken further steps to obtain an enrol order served on them. This is because a court order that is not served cannot be used against them as it is not binding on them until it is served on them,” he said.
Both Franklin Chude, who appeared for Uchendu, and Alloy Ejimakor, counsel to El-Shalom, aligned with the submission of Umeh.
However, Chude drew the court’s attention to an application he filed seeking the setting aside of the ruling of the court, adding that the prosecution counsel has not filed a counter-affidavit to the application.
Nyako, however, observed that the said application referred to by Chude was not in the court’s file.
Meanwhile, prosecution counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the applicants and proceed with the business of the day, which he said was for the sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit their bail bond.
In a brief ruling, Nyako ordered: “ The sureties are to be served with an enrol order of the court to show cause why their bail bonds should not be forfeited and/or produce the first defendant in court or in the alternative go to prison.”
Nyako had, in a ruling on April 25, 2017, released Kanu on bail after he had spent a year and seven months in detention, though the court ordered his co-defendants to remain in prison custody.