Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe and two others who stood as sureties for the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, have yet to pay the N100m bail bond they were ordered by the Federal High Court in Abuja to deposit in the court’s bank account in November 2018 less than a week to the expiration of the two-month ultimatum given to them to pay the money.
The PUNCH confirmed on Monday that rather than depositing the money in the court’s bank account as ordered by Justice Binta Nyako on November 14, 2018, the three sureties filed separate appeals challenging the court order.
Justice Nyako had ordered Abaribe, Tochukwu Uchendu and Emmanuel Shallom Ben – to pay the money due to Kanu’s persistent absence from court since October 2017.
Kanu’s absence stalled his trial on charges of treasonable felony, a development which forced the prosecution to separate his case from that of his four co-defendants, whose trial are making progress.
Not swayed by the sureties’ excuse for not being able to produce the IPOB leader in court, Justice Nyako ruled on November 14, “That the three sureties took the defendant on bail on the condition that they would bring/produce the defendant before the court on any day the court demanded. And that they have not been able to produce the defendant.”
She then ordered, “That in the interim, the three sureties are hereby ordered to deposit the bail bond in court within two months from today for six months or the bond will be forfeited.”
Court officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the sureties had yet to pay the money as ordered by the judge.
Abaribe’s lawyer, Mr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), also confirmed on Monday that his client had yet to pay the money. He explained that the lawmaker could not pay the money because he had filed an appeal against the court order.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, also said he was not aware that the sureties had complied with the court order.
“I am not aware that they have complied with the court order by paying the money,” Labaran said.
“I have been served with their appeals.”
When asked about the prosecution’s next action if the sureties failed to comply with the court order before the next hearing date, Labaran said, “when we get to the bridge we will cross it.”
Our correspondent also obtained a copy of the five-ground notice of appeal filed by one of the sureties, Uchendu, contending among others, that the court order directing the sureties to pay the bail bond to the court’s bank account “was in obvious error”.
He added that the court “acted without jurisdiction when it went ahead to order the appellant to forfeit the bail bond when section 173 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act had not been complied with”.
He said, “Section 179(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act provides that before there can be any forfeiture of any bond, it must be proved to the satisfaction of the court that the bond has been forfeited.”
After being granted bail by Justice Nyako in April 2017, Kanu went missing after soldiers invaded his house in Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State.
The IPOB leader only resurfaced about a year later (October 2018) in a viral online video showing him to be praying in Israel.
Further proceedings in the have been fixed for March 28.