Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and two others, standing as sureties for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, to explain the IPOB leader’s whereabouts.
Kanu, who was on bail granted him by the judge on April 24, 2017, was absent from court on Tuesday when the trial was billed to commence.
But his three co-defendants – the National Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe; an IPOB member, Benjamin Madubugwu; and a former Field Maintenance Engineer seconded to the MTN, David Nwawuisi – were produced in court by prison officials.
But Bright Chimezie, who became a co-defendant in the case following an amendment to the charges, was also absent from court.
He was said to be in the custody of the Department of State Services.
Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, told the judge that Kanu had been missing after soldiers allegedly invaded the IPOB leader’s home on September 14, 2017, adding that the Nigerian Army was in the best position to produce the defendant.
A lawyer, Mr. Ogechi Ogunna, who appeared for Abaribe on Tuesday, informed the judge that his client had filed a motion seeking to be discharged as Kanu’s surety.
The two other sureties, Immanuel Okabenmabu and Tochukwu Uchendu, were absent from court and not represented by any lawyer at the hearing.
But Justice Nyako said Abaribe’s motion could not be heard until Kanu was produced in court.
After lawyers, representing parties to the case announced their appearances on Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, who was led by Mr. Saleh Barkum, noted that Kanu was absent from court.
He urged the court to order the arrest of the IPOB leader for being absent from court on Tuesday.
The judge then called upon the counsel, representing Abaribe, Mr, Ogechi Ogunna, who said his client had filed an application before the court seeking to be discharged as Kanu’s surety.
But Justice Nyako said Abaribe would remain the defendant’s surety until the absentee defendant was produced in court.
The judge then gave the senator three options.
One of the options was for Abaribe to produce the defendant in court and then apply to be discharged as a surety.
The other option the judge gave was for Abaribe to be ready to forfeit his N100m bail bond.
The third option was for Abaribe to request to be given time to produce the defendant in court.
But Ogunna said, “He (Abaribe) is not in a position to do any of these.”
However the judge insisted that Abaribe must go with one of the three options.
With the judge’s insistence, Ogunna opted to be given time to produce him.