A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others, who stood surety for Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu to account for his whereabouts.
Justice Binta Nyako gave the order at the resumed trial of Kanu and three others yesterday when his (Kanu’s) lawyer Ifeanyi Ejiofor could not explain why his client was absent in court and where he was.
Also ordered to account for Kanu’s whereabouts are Tochukwu Uchendu (a businessman) and Jewish Chief High Priest Immanuel -El Shalom Oka-Ben Madu.
The judge gave the order in a ruling she delivered after the prosecution demanded that Kanu’s sureties be make to produce him and the IPOB leader’s lawyer denied knowledge of his whereabouts.
“The second surety (Senator Abaribe) will only be recused or excused from the bail suretyship when the 1st defendant is produced or if he decides to forfeit his bail bond.”
“The prison authorities are hereby directed to allow the medical doctor of the 4th defendant access to his prison records and treatment following laid down prison procedure. I will extend this to the 3rd defendant.
“All pending applications pending before the court will be taken in the course of proceedings,” Justice Nyako said.
Kanu and three other member of his group are being tried on a five-count charge of treason related offences.
The court, however granted only the IPOB leader bail on health grounds on April 25.
Abaribe, Uchendu and Madu stood surety for him to guarantee his continued attendance of court until the trial is concluded, failing which they would forfeit the N100million bond they each signed or be committed to prison until Kanu is found.
Others being tried are: Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
When the proceedings began yesterday, prosecuting lawyer Shuaibu Labaran noted that Kanu was absent in court.
Labaran contended that Kanu’s absence was a violation of the bail granted him and the order that he must attend court until the trial is concluded.
He urged the court to revoke the bail, issue a bench warrant for Kanu’s arrest and invite his three sureties to produce him or forfeit the N100 million bond they each signed and/ or be committed to prison.
When Labaran took his seat, Kanu’s lawyer attempted to blame his client’s absence on the military.
He claimed that Kanu had planned to attend court, but that since some soldiers invaded his house on September 14 this year, he (Kanu) had not been seen.
The judge interjected and asked Ejiofor to limit his submission to what was before the court, particularly as it relates to why his client was absent.
Ejiofor said he did not know why his client was absent. He also said he had not seen him since the military invaded his home.
Another lawyer, Obiechi Ogbonna, who represented Abaribe, said his client did not also know where Kanu was and had applied to withdraw as his surety.
As he indicated his intention to argue the application he filed for Abaribe, the judge noted that it was not yet time for that, and the senator could not recuse himself as surety when Kanu had not been found.
Justice Nyako told Ogbonna that his client had three options.
The first option, the judge said, is for Abaribe to produce Kanu.
Abaribe will remain a surety until Kanu is found. He can thereafter decline to be a surety, and the court returns Kanu to prison until he perfects the bail again.
The second and third options, the judge said, are that Abaribe either forfeits his bail bond of N100 million or appeals to the court for time to search for and produce Kanu.
Ogbonna chose the third option and urged the court to allow his client time to produce the IPOB leader.
The second defendant’s lawyer, Efa Ika, told the court that he was new in the case and was familiarising himself with the history of the trial.
Mr. Adoga, who appeared for the third defendant said he had filed five applications for his client, seeking several prayers, including the transfer of the case to Owerri; an order quashing the charge, an order granting him bail and an order allowing him to stand trial alone on a separate charge.
Maxwell Opara, who represented the fourth defendant, said he had two applications pending before the court, one seeking to compel prison authorities to allow his client access to his personal physician, and the other, that his client be granted bail.
Upon agreement by lawyers in the case, the judge adjourned till November 20 for Kanu’s sureties to explain where he is and why he did not attend court.