Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others to produce leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu or risk imprisonment.
Justice Binta Nyako said this in a ruling at the resumption of proceedings yesterday in the case of treasonable felony involving Kanu.
Abaribe, representing Abia South, Tochukwu Uchendu and a Jewish High Priest, Emmanuel Shallom Ben, signed a N100m bond each on April 25 last year as sureties for Kanu, who was granted bail by the court on health ground.
Kanu has since failed to attend subsequent proceedings in the case, prompting the trial judge to, on October 10, 2017, order the three sureties to either produce Kanu in court or risk either being sent to jail or to forfeit the N100m bail bond they each endorsed.
On February 20, 2018, Justice Nyako ordered Abaribe and his co-sureties to, at the next hearing date, either produce Kanu in court or show cause why they should not be imprisoned or forfeit the bail bond.
When proceedings resumed yesterday, Abaribe and others were present. Prosecuting lawyer Shuaibu Labaran informed the court that the business of the day was for the sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit the bail bond or be imprisoned for failing to produce Kanu in court as ordered.
Lawyer to Abaribe, Chukwuma Umeh, (SAN), Franklin Chude representing Uchendu and Alloy Ejimakor objected to Labaran’s position.
Umeh noted that an enrolled copy of the court’s order of February 20, 2018, was not served on the sureties including his client.
He said: “My lord, the ruling of your lordship has not been served on us, and an order having not been served on a party cannot be used against the party, Umeh argued.
Chudi and Ejimafor alligned themselves with Umah and urged the court to discountenance Labaran’s application that the sureties be made to show cause why Kanu was still absent in court.
Responding, the prosecution counsel argued that “justice cannot be sacrificed on the altar of technicality”.
Labaran pointed out that Abaribe’s lawyer had been appearing in the case since 2017. He noted that Umeh had filed an application justifying why Abaribe cannot be made to produce Kanu in court.
Labaran said he has responded to Umeh’s application. He said: “We have joined issues with the 1st surety on his application, but his sudden u-turn this afternoon is belated.”
He urged the court to disregard the arguments by lawyers to Abaribe and others and proceed with the business of the day.
In a ruling, Justice Nyako ordered that an enrolled copy of the court’s February 20, 2018 order be served on Abaribe and his co-sureties to enable them produce Kanu on the next day of show cause why they should not be jailed or forfeit their bail bond.
The judge adjourned to June 26.