Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe has urged the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, to relieve him as a surety to the acclaimed leader of the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, in an ongoing treason suit before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Abaribe, who described his continuous standing as surety for Kanu as illegal, also asked the court to set aside the November 14, 2018, order of the Federal High Court which gave him and two other surties two months within which to pay the N100 million bond each.
The said judgement delivered by Justice Binta Nyako was premised on the inability of the sureties to produce Kanu, who al-legedly eloped the country in September 2017, following alleged attack on his Abia State residence by the Nigerian military.
Justice 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.
However, 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.
Relying on Sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and other provisions of the constitution,Ume in the amended notice argued that a public officer such as a senator was legally exempted from standing surety for a suspect.
He blamed the Federal High Court for making a senator to be part of the sureties Kanu must present in April 2017.
He said: “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.
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. Meanwhile, the Federal High Court has fixed March 28 for continuation of the matter.