By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe has asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja, to discharge him from his earlier position as a surety to the self acclaimed leader of the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Abaribe, in an application filed at the appellate Court, also asked the court to set aside the November 14, 2018, order of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Senator and two others, Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu, had stood surety for the bail of now dissapperaed IBOP leader, Kanu in the sum of N100m each.
Kanu’s whereabouts has continued to be enmeshed in one controversy or the other since the military’s invasion of his ancestral home in September 2017.
He was said to have been killed in the attack but recent revelation seem to suggest that he is currently taking refuge in Isreal.
His disappearance however has jeopardised the position of his sureties, who are now confronted with the huge task of producing him in court to face his trial or forfeit the bail bond of N100m each, they signed for Kanu’s release.
Trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako, in her November 14, 2018 ruling, had held that Abaribe and the two other sureties owed the court the duty of producing Kanu, whose absence since 2017 has halted his trial on charges of treasonable felony brought against him by the federal government.
But the senator, through his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), filed an amended notice of appeal and a brief of argument to challenge the Federal High Court’s decisions.
He cited Sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to support his argument in the amended notice that a public officer such as a senator was legally exempted from standing surety for a suspect.
Ume blamed the Federal High Court for making a senator to be part of the sureties Kanu must present in April 2017. “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”, he said.
According to Abaribe’s counsel, “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”.
The two-month ultimatum given to Abaribe is bound to lapse on January 14, but before then, the Senator and the other two sureties, Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu, had filed separate appeals against the November 14, 2018 order. Abaribe in his appeal canvassed that the Federal High Court on its own, made “an order of interim forfeiture without considering or evaluating” all the applications filed before it by the sureties.
He added 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.