Where is Kanu? Court asks

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* Abaribe sues Chief of Army Staff

MONDAY’S trial of NnamdiKanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was again stalled, as Kanu was not in court.

Justice BintaNyako refused to continue the trial without Kanu whose bail conditions the court was to review.

A previous appearance on 17 September was adjourned again because Kanu was absent.

Senator Enyinnaya  Abaribe, who stood surety for Kanu, in the sum of N100 million, had complained that he did not know where Kanu was.

He had asked the court on 17 September to relieve him of the burden of the surety and instead hold the Nigerian Army responsible for the disappearance of Kanu.

Kanu has been on bail since last April. On 15 September, soldiers invaded his home in Afaraukwu, Umuahia, shooting parts of the building, which still bears the marks.

Kanu and some members of his family have not been seen since then.

Against that background, Abaribe has sued the Chief of Army Staff General, Lt-Gen TukurBuratai over Kanu’s disappearance.

According to Abaribe’s legal team, it is only the Chief of Army Staff, whose staff invaded Kanu’s home, who can give an account of him.

The argument is that if Kanu’s home had not been invaded, he would have appeared in court in line with his bail condition.

Among the reliefs that Abaribeis seeking in his suit are that the Chief of Army Staff should produce Kanu in court, that the attorney General of the Federation should commence contempt proceedings against Buratai for resorting to “self help” in the matter, and obstructing the proceedings of the court, and a payment of N10 million to Sen. Abaribe for psychological trauma he has been going through  since the disappearance of Kanu, following the army’s invasion of his home.

The matter has been adjourned to 15 February 2018, when the court expects that Kanu would be in court.

Abaribestands  as surety for Kanu, having signed a bail bond of N100million to secure bail for Kanu, who is being prosecuted by the Federal Government.

On October 17, the trial judge, Justice Binta had ordered that Abaribe and the other sureties should appear on November 20, to show cause why a bench warrant of arrest should not be granted against them.

The Court also held that Abaribecan only be excused if he produces Kanu or forfeits the N100m bail bond.

However, at the resumed sitting on Monday, Abaribe was in court but Justice Nyako did not sit.

The court registrar said she was attending the Judges Conference, and had to adjourn the trial to December 5.

But in the motion on notice filed by Abaribe, he is also praying for “An order of the court compelling the Chief of Army Staff, on failure to produce 1st defendant/2nd respondent, to pay to the court the sum in the bail bond earlier executed by the applicant on behalf of 1st defendant/2nd respondent.

“An order of the court compelling the Chief of Army Staff to produce 1st defendant/2nd respondent before the court and or to explain to the satisfaction of the court the circumstance surrounding his whereabouts.

“An order of court compelling the Chief of Army Staff to show cause why the Attorney General of the Federation should not be compelled to initiate contempt proceedings against him for his extra-judicial self-help conducts that have obviously frustrated the proceedings and course of administration of justice and which actions have brought the court to some ridicule and its power appears nugatory as well as placing the applicant in a fixed up position.”

Abaribe predicated his application on the grounds that “Out of patriotic consideration of assisting the judicial process to defuse the overheating already generated in the polity and with full belief that 1st defendant was carrying on his activities within the limits and confines of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, applicant offered to stand surety for him and entered into recognizance and executed the bail bond on his behalf.

Abaribe is alleging that it is only the Nigeria Army who had last contact with Kanu that can either produce him or explain the circumstances surrounding his whereabouts.

To his surprise, Abaribe said the Nigeria Army subsequently declared IPOB a terrorist organisation and all its members wanted.

He added that all attempts and efforts thereafter made by him to contact Kanu by whatever means failed completely as there was no response and nobody except the Army could give any account of him.

“The situation was such that applicant could no longer under the circumstances perform his obligation under the surety.

“As at the time of Chief of Army Staff ordered the deployment of his men and material to forcefully and violently invade and surround the town and residence of the 1st defendant/2nd respondent aforesaid, he had every knowledge of the pendency of this charge and that his conduct had the most probable effect of preventing the 1st defendant from attending court, to continue with his trial.”

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