Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Alleged forgery of Senate rules: Saraki, Ekweremadu to be arraigned today June 21st

Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, are scheduled for arraignment before an Abuja High Court sitting at Jabi today June 21st on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and forgery.According to Vanguard, the Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, accused the senate leaders of complicity in alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015.

They are to be arraigned alongside the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi.

The alleged false Standing Order was used to conduct the election through which both Saraki and Ekweremadu emerged on July 9th last year.

The two lawmakers and their co-defendants are scheduled to enter their plea before trial Justice Yusuf Halilu.

In the court papers, the Federal government argued that they had by their conduct, committed an offence punishable under Section 97 (1) and 364 of the Penal Code Act.

Part of the charge reads

    “That you, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, on or about, the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, conspired amongst yourselves to forge the Senate Standing Order, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed the offence of conspiracy, punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law. That you, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this court, with fraudulent intent, forged the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended), causing it to be believed as the genuine Standing Order, 2015 and circulated same for use during the inauguration of the 8th Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when you knew that the said Order was not made in compliance with the procedure for amendment of the Senate Order. You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law.”

The charge was a fallout of investigation police conducted into a petition by a group of lawmakers under the aegis of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, who alleged that the Standing Order used for the July 9, 2015, election of principal officers for the 8th Senate, was doctored. Earlier, five members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Senate, Abu Ibrahim, Kabir Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Olugbenga Ashafa and Suleiman Hunkuyi, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/651/2015, sought the removal of Saraki and Ekweremadu. ‎

The plaintiffs prayed the court to sack the duo on the premise that the version of the Senate Standing Orders that was used for their election was forged. In their suit dated July 27th 2015, the plaintiffs, contended that ‎allowing Saraki and Ekweremadu to continue to pilot the affairs of the Senate regardless of the fact that they emerged through an act of illegality, would on itself amount to corruption. ‎Cited as defendants in the suit were Saraki, Ekweremadu, the National Assembly and Clerks of the National Assembly. Though the court had concluded hearing on the matter, however, Ekweremadu, filed a petition before the Chief Judge of the high court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, alleging bias against the judge that handled the case, Justice Ademola Adeniyi.

In his petition dated December 18, 2015, Ekweremadu, insisted that Justice Adeniyi was closely related to some chieftain‎s of the APC. He specifically identified the national leader ‎of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu as one of the people he said has personal relationship with the Judge. Ekweremadu queried the ability of Justice Adeniyi ‎to deliver an objective verdict on the matter in view of his alleged closeness with the APC- the party the plaintiffs belong to. Following the petition which was filed four days after the suit was fixed for judgment, the CJ, re-assigned the case to another Judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu. Nevertheless, Justice Chukwu died earlier this month, thus leaving the case hanging, waiting to be re-assigned to another Judge.

It is however not clear if the politicians will appear before the court today as Lawyers to Saraki say he has not gotten any court summon on the matter and so will most likely not be attending any court hearing. They argue that even if he is presented with a court paper today, he will have to study it and respond to it before he can be arraigned.

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