© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Abaribe, two others to pay N100 million each for failing to produce Nnamdi Kanu
JUSTICE Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the people that stood as sureties for Nnamdi Kalu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to pay the N100 million bail bond for failing to produce Kanu to complete his trial.
Kanu was facing treason and terrorism charges before Justice Nyako, and was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds. As part of the bail conditions, Kanu was required to produce three sureties who would sign a bail bond of N100 million which they would stand to forfeit should the accused person jump bail.
One of the sureties must be a senior highly placed person of Igbo extraction such as a senator, the second must be a highly respected Jewish leader since Kanu said his religion is Judaism, and the third surety must be a highly respected person who owns landed property and is resident in Abuja.
Kanu was subsequently released on bail and the following persons stood surety for him: Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District; Ben El-Shalom, a Jewish priest, and Tochukwu Uchendu, an accountant.
However, Kanu’s whereabouts have been unknown since September 2017, when Nigerian soldiers allegedly raided his home in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, following the proscribing of the IPOB by the federal government.
The soldiers had allegedly gone to forcefully arrest Kanu, who at the time had serially breached all his bail conditions, but the attempt failed, and since then nobody seems to know the whereabouts the IPOB leader.
At the resumption of Kanu’s hearing in October 2017, Abaribe, one of the sureties, asked the court to remove him as one of the sureties to the accused person, but the trial judge declined the request, asking him rather to ensure that Kanu is present in court on the next adjourned date.
When the case came up again for hearing on Wednesday, Only Uchendu was present in court. Abaribe and El-Shalom were only represented by their counsels, and this did not go down well with the trial judge.
Justice Nyako said she would have ordered for the arrest of the sureties, but had to change her mind because of the presence of one of them in court. She, however, ordered that the three must forfeit the N100 million bail bond they signed to secure Kanu’s release.
“Before you take anybody on bail, you must ensure it is a person you can vouch for and a person you can produce in court. Even if Mr Nnamdi Kanu is in Israel or he is in Saudi Arabia, that is not my business.
“I am not interested in the fact that they found Mr Nnamdi Kanu. You can talk from today till tomorrow, but they will forfeit the bail bond,” Nyako told one of the counsels for the sureties.
After much pleadings from the counsels, Justice Nyako agreed that the forfeiture order would last for just six months. The case was subsequently adjourned to March 26 and 27, 2019.