By Andy Chukwu
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Thursday revoked the bail granted to Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), and consequently issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
The order was sequel to Kanu’s continued absence to face his trial since late 2017.
Justice Binta Nyako in a bench ruling also held that the court will continue the trial of Kanu, who is believed to be taking refuge in one of the Middle East countries, in his absence.
The court recalled that Kalu was granted bail in April 25, 2017 on health ground, but the defendant had failed to attend trial since November 2017.
This action prompted the court to issue an order directing his sureties to show cause why they should not forfeit the N100 million bail bond each of them made for the release of Kanu to the federal government.
Subsequently, the matter was adjourned till June 18 for continuation of trial in Kanu’s absence.
At the resumed trial Thursday, the prosecution lawyer Shuaibu Labaran prayed the court for a bench warrant of arrest against the IPOB leader for failing to appear in court to face his trial.
However, Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, requested a short adjournment to enable him give reasons why the defendant was not in court.
His request was overruled by the court on the ground that the defence team had enough time to adduce reasons for Kanu’s absence in between the four adjournments granted them by the court from November 2018 till Thursday, March 28, 2019.
Meanwhile, the court has adjourned the case involving Kanu’s sureties: Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, a Jewish Priest Emmanuel Shalom Ben Madu and an accountant Tochukwu Uchendu indefinitely following an appeal lodged by Senator Abaribe’s lawyer, Chukwuma Ume (SAN), challenging the order directing the sureties to deposit their bond with the court.
Senator Abaribe, the Jewish Priest Ben El Shallom and the accountant, Uchendu, had all stood sureties for Kanu in the sum of N100 million each.
However, following the disappearance of Kanu and his subsequent failure to attend his trial, the federal government, through the prosecution counsel Shuaibu Labaran applied and secured a court order directing Kanu’s sureties to produce him in court or show cause why they will not be sent to prison or forfeit the bond of N100 million each.
Kanu and four others were arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a six-count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony in June 2016.
Though they pleaded not guilty to the charge, however bail was denied them by the different judges who had earlier tried the matter, including Justice Nyako.
However, Justice Nyako later admitted Kanu to bail to enable him access quality medical care.