Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Forgery: FG fails to open case against Saraki, Ekweremadu, others

The Federal Government, on
Wednesday, failed to kick-start hearing on the
two-count forgery charge it preferred against the
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his Deputy,
Ike Ekweremadu.

The duo are facing trial alongside the former
Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu
Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr.
Benedict Efeturi over allegation that they
masterminded the usage of a bogus Senate
Standing Rules for the July 9, 2015, election,
through which both Saraki and Ekweremadu took
over the leadership of the Senate.

FG, through the office of the Attorney General of
the Federation and Minister of Justice,
maintained that the defendants had by their
conduct, committed an offence punishable under
Section 97 (1) and 364 of the Penal Code Act.
Meanwhile, when the matter was called up for
hearing on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel,
Mr. Aliyu Umar, SAN, failed to produce any of his
witnesses in court.

Umar, a former Attorney General of Kano State
who was engaged by the government to
prosecute the defendants on its behalf, told the
court that the AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had
yet to hand over the case-file to him, a situation
he said made it impossible for him to commence
the trial as scheduled.

Consequently, he applied for a short
adjournment to enable him to put his house in
order and file responses to motions pending
before the court.

The request for adjournment was vehemently
opposed by counsel to all the defendants who
urged the court to compel the prosecution to
open its case against them.

Besides, the defendants, noted that FG was yet
to respond to three different motions
challenging the legal competence of the charge
marked CR/219/16, and dated June 10.

Saraki, through his lawyer, Mr. Paul Erokoro,
SAN, drew attention of the court to the fact that
his own motion seeking to quash the charge, was
served on the prosecution since June 22.
He decried that the AGF did not deem it fit to
handover the case-file to his lawyer, over two
months after the matter was adjourned for full-
blown hearing.
The defendants therefore prayed the court to
quash the charge and discharge them for want of
diligent prosecution.

Basically, the defendants, in three preliminary
objections they entered before the court,
queried the propriety of the charge which they
said was vague, did not disclose any offence and
constituted a gross abuse of the judicial process.
While contending that FG lacked the powers to
meddle into internal affairs of the Senate, the
defendants, challenged jurisdiction of the court
to try them on the basis of the charge.

More so, they stressed that issues raised in the
charge is currently a subject matter of litigation
before the Federal High Court in Abuja, a
proceeding the AGF was also involved in as a

After he had listened to all the parties, trial
Justice Yusuf Halilu expressed his
disappointment with action of the prosecution.
“I do not allow parties to stall trial before me.

These motions have been there for the past 90
days, yet they were not attended to by the
“However, for the interest of justice and
circumstances the prosecution counsel found
himself, I oblige to adjourn this matter”, Justice
Halilu held.
He subsequently adjourned the case till October
7 for definite hearing.

Moreover, Justice Halilu said he would hear all
the preliminary objections along with the
substantive matter.
The court had on June 27, granted the
defendants bail after they pleaded not guilty to
the forgery charge against them.

Whereas the court gave Saraki bail on self-
recognition, it ordered the other defendants to
produce two reasonable sureties each.

The court stressed that the sureties must be
owners of landed properties in the highbrow
areas of Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse II or Garki in

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