From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered Senator Eyninnaya Abaribe and two others standing as sureties for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to produce him in court or forfeit their N100 million bail bonds/face jail terms.
Kanu’s whereabouts is yet to be known following the invading of his home in Umuahia by men of the Nigerian Army, under the Operation Python Dance II.
The Federal Government is arraigning Kanu and three others before a Federal High Court in Abuja, on a five-count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony. He was, however, granted bail on April 24, 2017, on health grounds by Justice Binta Nyako.
Those who stood sureties for him were the Chairman of the Senate’s South East Caucus, Eyinnaya Abaribe; a Jewish priest, Immanuu-El Shalom and an accountant and Abuja resident, Tochukwu Uchendu.
Before yesterday’s proceeding, the federal government, in one of the applications, had asked the court to revoke the bail granted Kanu, which it alleged had been breached by the IPOB leader.
When the case came up yesterday, Kanu was absent in court, while his three other pro-Biafra agitators standing trial with him, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi and Bright Chimezie were produced in court by prison officials.
His counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told the judge that his client had been missing after soldiers allegedly invaded the IPOB leader’s home on September 14, 2017. He said the army was in the best position to produce the defendant.
Meanwhile, a lawyer, Mr. Ogechi Ogunna, who appeared for Abaribe, informed the court that his client had filed a motion seeking to be discharged as Kanu’s surety.
But the two other sureties, Immanuel Shalum Okabenmabu and Tochukwu Uchendu, were absent from court and not represented by any lawyer yesterday.
Responding to Abaribe’s application, Justice Nyako said his motion cannot be heard until Kanu is produced in court.
Justice Nyako gave Abaribe three options, one of which is for him to produce the defendant in court and then apply to be discharged as a surety.
The other option is for Abaribe to be ready to forfeit his N100 million bail bond, while the third option is for Abaribe to request to be given time to produce the defendant in court.
Abaribe’s counsel, Ogunna, however, said “he (Abaribe) is not in a position to do any of these.”
Regardless, the judge insisted Abaribe must opt for one of the three options. With the judge’s insistence, Ogunna opted to be given time to produce Kanu.
The two other sureties were not represented in court yesterday.
The trial was adjourned until November 20.