Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, urging it to relieve him of his earlier position as a surety to the leader of the proscribed Indegeniuos People of Biafra, IPOB , Nnamdi Kanu.
Abaribe who is representing Abia South Senatorial District, prayed the appellate court to set aside the November 14, 2018, order of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which gave him and two other sureties to the missing IPOB leader, two months to deposit N100 million bond they signed on Kanu’s behalf.
Trial Justice Binta Nyako had insisted that Abaribe, a Jewish High Priest, Emmanu El- Salom Oka BenMadu and an accountant, Mr. Tochukwu Uchendu, should forfeit the bail sum, having failed to produce Kanu for continuation of his trial on treason related charges.
“The court hereby order the sureties to in the interim, deposit the bail bond in the court within two months. This order is going to pend in the interim for six months”, Justice Nyako held. The Judge held that Abaribe and the other sureties owed the court the duty of producing Kanu, whose absence since September 2017, stalled his trial.
However, in an amended notice of appeal he filed through his lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, the lawmaker, described his continuous standing as surety for Kanu, as illegal. Relying on sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, Abaribe, argued that a public officer such as a senator was legally exempted from standing surety for a suspect. He contended that the trial Judge was wrong when she maintained in April 2017, that one of those to stand surety for the IPOB leader, must be a serving Senator.
“The honourable trial court failed and or refused to take judicial notice of the relevant provisions of the ACJA and the Nigerian constitution. “Thus, the trial court had not done the needful under the law, otherwise, it would have found that by law, the appellant (a senator) is legally exempted from giving security for the good conduct or behaviour of a suspect.
“It is trite law that where a valid Act or law clearly states something, it is not within the powers of the court to go contrary to it. “We can see therefore that the involvement of Senator Abaribe in the whole bail and surety quagmire was invalid from the beginning”, Abaribe’s lawyer argued. He further contended that the high court, on its own, made an order of interim forfeiture without considering or evaluating pending applications the sureties filed before it.
Abaribe equally argued that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when on its own, it made an interlocutory order that in substance, rendered the core issue in the substantive matter, a nullity. Meanwhile, the two-month ultimatum the court handed to Abaribe and his co-sureties will elapse on January 14.
Aside the lawmaker, the two other sureties have also filed separate notices of appeal to challenge the trial court’s order against them. Trial Justice Nyako had earlier fixed March 28 for possible continuation of Kanu’s trial in his absence. Kanu was hitherto facing five-count treasonable felony charge alongside the four other Defendants- 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. Justice Nyako had on June 25, granted the four Defendants bail to the tune of N10million each with two sureties in like sum.