Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, the lawmaker representing Abia-South Senatorial district has told the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja that he can no longer stand as a surety for Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The federal lawmaker said it was unlawful for him to have stood as the surety for the fugitive IPOB leader in the first instance as public officers are legally exempted for acting on behalf of suspects.
He said this in an amended seven grounds notice of appeal and a brief of argument to challenge the decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which was filed by Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), his lawyer, on January 3.
Justice Justice Binta Nyako had on November 14, 2018, ordered Senator Abaribe and two other sureties – Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu – to each pay a N100 million bond following the inability of Kanu to appear in court.
The trial judge gave the sureties an ultimatum of January 14 to pay the money or be held in contempt of court.
But in his appeal against the judgement, the lawmaker, Senator Abaribe Ume, citing sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), claimed that he should have been spared of being a surety to a suspect.
Ume said the Federal High Court should be held responsible for the non-appearance of Kanu, adding that the participation of his client was “invalid.”
“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 honourable 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, ab initio 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, therefore, can see that the involvement of Senator Abaribe in the whole bail and surety quagmire was invalid, ab initio,” Ume said.
Ume also argued that the lower court on its own made “an order of interim forfeiture without considering or evaluating” all the applications filed before it by the sureties.
Kanu absconded from the country after soldiers deployed under the Operation ‘Python Dance II’ in the South-East to quell agitation for a Biafra republic, invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia in September 2017.
The IPOB leader was facing trial on charges of treasonable felony when he fled the country.
The court has set March 28 for the continuation of hearing of the sureties.