Naij Nigeria

Tochukwu Uchendu, one of the three persons who stood as surety to secure bail for Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has filed an application demanding the arrest of the IPOB leader.

The two other sureties are Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Ben Elshalom, a Jewish priest.

Monday’s proceeding was meant for the three sureties to show cause why the N300 million bail bond should not be forfeited to the Federal Government since they could not produce Kanu in court.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Section 174(A) and (B), 177, and 179 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, and Section 36I and 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The motion filed by Frank Chude, on behalf of Uchendu, is seeking “an order directing the Nigerian police to arrest and produce Nnamdi Kanu before the court.”

Uchendu also wants an order suspending his obligation on the bond until the whereabouts of Kanu was established.

Uchendu predicated his motion on the grounds that the court had granted the 1st defendant (Kanu) bail on the 25th day of April, 2017.

He pointed out that while Kanu was on bail, he had a confrontation with the military, an arm of the state, and “that since then his whereabouts is unknown and he has not being seen”.

An affidavit deposed to by Uchendu stated that after the invasion of the residence of Kanu by the Nigerian army on September 14, 2017, he had not been seen in the public since.

“I am unable to communicate with the 1st defendant and his whereabouts unknown to me,” he said.

Uchendu averred that Kanu had brought an application before the court seeking an order of habeas corpus for him to be produced in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/908/17.

“That Kanu has not been seen in public since the 14th day of September, 2017, when the agents of the state (soldiers) invaded his house in Isiama Afaraukwu, Abia State.

“That the invasion of Kanu’s home on 14th September by the military has ostensibly frustrated his bail and made it impossible for me to bring him to court as stipulated by the terms of the bail.”

Uchendu, therefore, pleaded the court not to punish him for the unforeseen circumstances created by the Nigerian soldiers which have practically frustrated his duty as surety.

Similarly, the 1st (Abaribe) and 2nd (Elshalom) sureties filed separate applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the order for them to show cause, which was made on March 28, 2018.

Both applications were filed and served on the prosecution counsel, Shuiabu Labaran, on Monday.

However, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to Kanu, objected to the motion to show cause from being heard on the basis that he was not served the processes.

Meanwhile, the attempt made by Chukwuma M. Umeh (SAN), counsel to Abaribe, to have him released from the custody of the Department of State Service proved abortive as Justice Binta Nyako refused.

Justice Nyako stated that he did not make any order of detention against Abaribe and therefore cannot order the release of a person whose arrest she did not order.

“I did not make any order of arrest against the surety (Abaribe), but if he has committed an offence, he should be arrested.

“DSS is not an extension of this court, I did not order his arrest,” Justice Nyako said.

However, based on the passionate plea of Umeh, the court advised the DSS to consider Abaribe’s fundamental rights and allow him access to his lawyers.

“For whatever reason you have arrested the surety, please, allow him access to his lawyer,” Nyako said.

The matter has been adjourned to November 14 for hearing of the applications of the sureties.

It would be recalled that Justice Binta Nyako had on March 28 ordered Enyinnaya Abaribe, the senator representing Abia South in the National Assembly; Tochukwu Uchendu, and Ben Elshalom who stood as sureties for Kanu to produce the IPOB leader in court on June 26.

Justice Nyako had in a bench ruling on October 10, 2017, given the three sureties options of either producing Kanu in court, forfeiting the bail bond they signed or go to jail if the IPOB leader failed to appear in court to face trial.

The sureties had signed a bail bond of N100 million each to secure the release of Kanu on bail on April 25, 2017.

However, since the invasion of Kanu’s home in Abia State in September, 2017, during a military operation code-named, ‘Operation Python Dance 2’, the embattled IPOB leader has not been seen again.

The sureties and Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, are accusing the Nigerian army of being responsible for Kanu’s disappearance and, as such, should be asked to produce him in court.

But having failed to show up in court, on February 20, 2018, Justice Nyako had to order Senator Abaribe, and the two other sureties, to produce Kanu in court or forfeit the bail bond or risk jail.

However, the Department of State Services (DSS) has released Enyinnaya Abaribe.

Uchenna Awom, Abaribe’s media aide, confirmed this in a statement issued on Tuesday night.

“About 6.32pm on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe walked into freedom after five days in the DSS gulag,” the statement reads.

“Abaribe, who was granted administrative bail, was released to his lawyers led by Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN).

“The collective calls and demand for his release have shown the great spirit of Nigerians for justice.”

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