Ade Adesomoju and Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
Embattled senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has denied the claim by the Federal Government that the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, is in his custody.
The Federal Government had earlier replied to Abaribe’s application seeking to withdraw as one of the sureties for Kanu, describing the application as belated.
The government in its counter-affidavit and written address filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja to oppose Abaribe’s request, told the senator that Kanu was in his custody and he had to produce him for the continuation of his trial.
But Abaribe in a response to a question on whether Kanu was actually in his custody, the senator in a text message said, “I don’t know where he is.”
The Federal Government, however, stated in its counter-affidavit that Abaribe was aware that Kanu “has long violated the bail conditions handed down by this honourable court” on April 24, 2017 before September 11 when he claimed to have lost contact with the defendant.
The counter-affidavit read in part, “That it was at this point at violating the conditions at the bail that the senator surety ought to surrender the 1st defendant and or bring up this application; That this application is belated and ill-timed;
“The applicant failed to apply to the court timeously, stating on oath that the defendant bound by recognizance to appear before this court had violated the bail condition given by this court.”
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, argued in the written address that Abaribe “failed woefully” by allegedly aiding and abetting Kanu to flout his bail conditions.
Denying that Kanu was not in the custody of the Nigerian Army, the Federal Government stated in its counter-affidavit that the defendant was in Abaribe’s custody.
Abaribe however denied Kanu’s whereabouts.
“I don’t know where he is. But that is a question that will be resolved by the suit we have instituted,” he stated.
Kanu was absent from court when his case came up on October 17, 2017, but his co-defendants with whom he was being prosecuted on charges of treasonable felony were produced in court by prison officials.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday fixed November 14 for the hearing of the application filed by IPOB to challenge its proscription.
The suit was scheduled for hearing before Justice Abdu Kafarati, who is the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, but it was learnt that the judge was absent from court as he was said to be attending a seminar elsewhere.
Court registrars were said to have fixed November 14 for hearing under the instruction of the judge.
IPOB’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said on Monday that the Federal Government had yet to respond to the application.
IPOB had on September 22 asked the court to set aside the orders proscribing it and designating it as a terrorist group.