- Wants him tried in absentia
By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, revoked the bail earlier granted the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and ordered warrant for his arrest.
Consequently, relying on section 352(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, the judge directed his trial in absentia.
Kanu, whose whereabouts has remained unknown since September 2017, is answering to a five-count charge FG brought against him and three other pro-Biafra agitators, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The self-aclaimed IPOB leader had failed to appear in court, without any reasonable explanation.
Following the defendant’s disappearance, the federal government, through his counsel, Mr. Magaji Labaran, applied for revocation of the bail granted to him by the court in April 25, 2016.
Opposing the oral application, Counsel to Kanu, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, pleaded with the court for an adjournment to enable him file necessary papers to explain why his client had not been in court.
He insisted that Kanu’s disappearance was as a result of soldiers’ invasion of him home in Afara-Ukwu, Abia State, during military’s ‘Operation Python Dance II.
Reacting, Labaran urged the court to discountenance the request for adjournment to give any explanation.
He, therefore, pleaded for an order that the bail be revoked, and issued a bench warrant against the defendant.
“We humbly submit that the defendant has been given adequate opportunity in line with Section 352 (4) of the ACJA.
“When he failed to utilize such opportunity, the court took the appropriate step of initiating proceeding requiring the sureties to show cause.
“Even at that, this court has been so magnanimous in granting several adjournments, giving the sureties the opportunity to show cause.
“Consequent upon which the court delivered a ruling on November 14, 2018, for the sureties to forfeit their bail bond. A matter that is currently the subject of appeal.
“It is on record that even the sureties have applied to withdraw because they cannot explain the whereabouts of the defendant.
“We urge the court to discountenance the request for adjournment to give any explanation, and order that the bail be revoked, and issue a bench warrant against the defendant.
‘’Finally, we urge the court to issue an order for trial of the defendant in absentia, in compliance with relevant portions of the law.’’
Justice Nyako in her reaction overruled the objection, noting that the request for explanation of the defendant’s absence in court was belated.
She insisted that Kanu’s disappearance has no connection with the military invasion.
The judge concluded that the defendant had violated the conditions and terms of the bail granted him, recalled that after the defendant was granted bail on April 17, 2017.
The judge also noted that the three persons who had guaranteed his bail had applied to the court to withdraw their suretyship because they could not account for his whereabouts.
She noted that on March 28, 2018, Kanu’s trial was separated from that of his four other co-defendants in order to avoid delays of the other persons’ trial.
She added that on November 14, 2018, she ordered that the sureties should temporarily forfeit their N100m bail bonds or produce Kanu in court.
“I am of the opinion that learned counsel is only seeking for time to delay the inevitable”
“I have given the counsel for the defendant more than enough time to produce him in court.
‘’ Therefore, by virtue of section of section 252(4) of the
Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the only option open to do is to order that the trial will continue in his absence.
“Proceedings must end one way or the other.
‘’In the absence of any reasonable explanation for his absence, I hereby revoke his bail and order that a bench warrant be issued for his arrest,’’ she held.
The court thereby fixed June 18 for Kanu’s trial in absentia.