An Abuja division of the Federal High Court has directed all three sureties who signed Nnamdi Kanu’s bail bond to pay the sum of N100 million each into the court’s account for failing to produce the the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for his trial.
Kanu was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) in 2015 and spent two years in custody until he was granted bail on health grounds in April 2017.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Jewish High Chief Priest, Immanuu-El Shalom Okabemadu and a Chartered Accountant resident in Abuja, Tochukwu Uchendu, signed his bail bond.
The IPOB leader, facing charges of treasonable felony, proceeded to mysteriously disappear in September 2017 and missed several court dates.
During a ruling on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako, amended the conditions of the bail to require all three sureties to deposit cash payments of N100m in the bank account of the court within two months. The bond had previously been backed with documents of their landed assets which were deposited in court.
The judge stressed that the new directive is an order of interim forfeiture as Kanu remains in the wind. She then fixed the court’s next hearing for March 28 to entertain the motions filed by the sureties to challenge the duties imposed on them to produce Kanu.
Abaribe had made a previous attempt to be discharged by the court as Kanu’s surety when he first failed to appear for trial.
His 2017 application read, “Since the afore stated visit of the Nigerian Army to the residence of the first defendant from September 11, 2017, the second respondent (Kanu) in this suit has not been seen again nor reached on phone, neither is he reported in any news media as seen by any person nor made any statement on any issue.
“The activities of the Nigerian Army as affecting the first respondent are matters of state secret incapable of being unravelled by the applicant which activities has put the second respondent out of the reach of the applicant such that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to produce the second respondent before this court at any subsequent date.
The court turned down his application.
“Even if you apply from today till next year, this court will only have one of these three options for you: produce the defendant, pay the bond or demand for time to come and explain to court,” Justice Nyako said in October 2017.
Kanu’s disappearance and re-emergence
When Kanu first failed to appear for trial on October 17, 2017, IPOB and Abaribe alleged that he was being detained by the Nigerian Army. He had not been seen in public since September 14 after the military’s alleged invasion of his father’s home in Umuahia.
However, he made a dramatic re-emergence when he was pictured praying at the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem on October 19, 2018.
During a broadcast that followed, he said he only ran abroad so as to be able to fight the government’s tyranny another day. During an interview on Israeli TV Channel 1, the IPOB leader said he only escaped death one year ago because he was evacuated from the premises before soldiers could get to his bedroom.
“And one day, the Nigerian Army came to my house to kill me. They killed 28 people in the process. To kill me, they killed 28 people.
“My people evacuated me before they could get to my bedroom. They took me away and smuggled me out of Nigeria. I needed some time to recover which I did and then, I had to make my way to Israel. I’m relieved that I managed to make it to the only place that I feel safe in the whole world,” he said.