Trial Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, okayed the service of enrolled orders on three persons that stood surety for the ‘missing’ leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
The court said they should be served with the order to enable them to appear before it on June 26 to show cause why they should not be committed to prison over Kanu’s repeated failure to appear for continuation of his trial, or why the N100million they individually deposited to secure his bail should not be forfeited to the Federal Government. Alternatively, the court said the surties were at liberty to produce the IPOB leader on the next adjourned date.
Those the court directed should be served with copies of enrolled orders are Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who is representing Abia South Senatorial District, a Jewish High Priest, Emmanu El- Salom Oka BenMadu, and an accountant, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu. Justice Nyako made the order after the three surties who were in court, through their respective lawyers, protested that they only read about the summon the court earlier issued against them, on the pages of newspapers.
Abaribe’s lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma Umeh, SAN, told the court that his client attended the proceeding owing to his respect for the judiciary and the rule of law. He argued that Order 26 of the Federal High Court Rules made it mandatory that such order should be served on his client before he could be asked to show cause. “We want to put it on record that the prosecution have till date, not served or made any effort to serve any enrolled order on my client. “A court order that is not served cannot be used against a party”, he argued. Counsel to the two other sureties, Mr. I. F. Chude and Aloy Ejimako, adopted Abaribe’s position, adding that section 36 of the 1999 constitution required that before anyone’s property is forfeited, such person must be granted fair hearing. On his part, government lawyer, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, urged the court to ignore Abaribe and his co-defendants, saying “they have conspired to frustrate the hearing of this matter through technicalities”. In a short ruling, Justice Nyako who noted that the three sureties raised a valid issue of law, directed that copies of enrolled orders be served on them before the close of work.
It will be recalled that following an application FG made pursuant to section 179 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the court, on October 10, 2017, summoned all the three surties. Justice Nyako formally issued an order against the surties on February 20, saying they should explain Kanu’s whereabouts of risk jail. Justice Nyako had on April 25, 2016, released Kanu on bail on health ground after he had spent a year and seven months in detention. To secure Kanu’s release, Abaribe, El-Shalom and Uchendu, on April 28, signed an undertaking to ensure his attendance in court.
Nevertheless, whereabouts of the IPOB leader has remained unknown since September last year. Abaribe had earlier prayed the court to de-list him as one of the sureties in the matter, stressing that Kanu “has not been seen again nor reached on phone by the Applicant, neither is he reported in any news media as seen by any person, nor made any statement on any issue”.
Kanu was hitherto facing five-count treasonable felony charge alongside four pro-Biafra agitators- Bright Chimezie, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
Aside allegation that he imported Radio transmitter known as TRAM 50L, which was concealed in a container that was declared as used household items, for the purpose of using same to disseminate information about secession plans by the IPOB.
FG alleged that Kanu had “on or about the 28th April, 2015 in London, United Kingdom did in a broadcast on Radio Biafra monitored in Enugu, Enugu state and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, referred to Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a paedophile, a terrorist, an idiot and an embodiment of evil, knowing same to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 375 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The court had since separated Kanu’s trial from that of his co-defendants.