By Ajibola Abayomi,
February 21, 2018.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned to February 28 for three sureties of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to produce him in court or show cause why each of them should not forfeit his N100 million bail bond.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others had stood surety to Kanu when he was dragged before the court. Since the face-off by the group with the military in the compound of the Kanus in Abia State, Kanu has not been seen in public.
The court had at the last proceedings on December 5, 2017 adjourned to February 20 for the sureties to explain why Kanu suddenly stopped attending court and account for his whereabouts.
Abaribe has filed two applications. One is asking the court to discharge him as surety to Kanu. The other wants the court to inspect Kanu’s house in Abia State, where he was said to have been last seen.
The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, also granted an application by the prosecution on Tuesday and ordered that Kanu’s trial be separated from those of his co-defendants.
Kanu was in 2015 charged before the court with three others on treasonable felony charges. The others are the National Coordinator of IPOB, Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the telecommunication company, MTN, David Nwawuisi.
The court, in a ruling on April 25, 2017, granted bail to Kanu, but rejected others’ bail application.
Kanu has ceased to attend court, with his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, claiming he (Kanu) had been missing since some soldiers invaded his home in September last year.
On Tuesday, his co-defendants, who are in prison custody, were brought to court. The development prompted the prosecution lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, to apply that the trial be separated to prevent further delay.
Labaran noted that Kanu’s continued absence from court since he was granted bail in April 2017 has frustrated progress in the case.
He said: “In the circumstance, the prosecution shall be asking for the indulgence of your lordship to separate the trial so that progress can be made in this matter.”
Lawyers to the defendants did not object to Labaran’s application, following which the trial judge granted it. Justice Nyako agreed with the prosecution that there was the need to separate Kanu’s trial from the others “to meet the justice of the case”.
She said: “I hereby separate the trial of the first defendant from the rest of the defendants.” The judge also directed the prosecution to ensure that the charges were amended and served on the defendants before the next trial date.
Upon complaint from Chukwudi Igwe, lawyer to another IPOB member, whose name has been added as defendant in an amended charge, Bright Chimezie, Justice Nyako directed the prosecution to act on his case.
Igwe had complained that the Department of State Services was holding his client despite an order by a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State directing that he be released.
He said, if by the next trial date the prosecution failed to reflect his client’s name in the fresh amendment to the charge, he would apply that the charge be struck out against Chimezie. The judge subsequently adjourned to March 20 for further proceedings.