Court strikes out forgery case against Saraki, Ekweremadu
• It Was An Unnecessary Distraction, Says Senate
• Similar Case Pending In Another Court
A high Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday struck out the forgery charge brought against Senate President Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and two others after granting the application of the federal government to withdraw the charge.
Justice Yusuf Halilu struck out the charges and released all four defendants- Saraki, Ekweremadu, Abubakar Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeture, accordingly, following the withdrawal of the criminal charge brought against them by the Federal Government.
They were accused of forging the Senate Standing Rules that led to the emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu as leaders of the Senate in June last year.
Indications on the release of the four defendants became evident when counsel to the federal government, Aliyu Umar, applied to Justice Halilu for withdrawal of the case instituted in June this year.
He told the court that the government was withdrawing the charge, because another matter on the same forgery is pending at a Federal High Court and the government has respect for the rule of law.
Umar summited that it is trite law that two courts of coordinate (equal jurisdiction) are on same issue at the same time and period and therefore urged the court to strike out the charge and release all four defendants accordingly.
The withdrawal of the charge was not opposed by Counsel to the defendants- Paul Erokoro, Joseph Daudu and others.
Justice Halilu praised the prosecution counsel for bringing his wealth of experience into the matter, which led to the striking out of the case, adding that it takes courage for somebody backing the government to display such demeanor.
“By this courage, you have chosen the path of honour and professionalism. As Nigerians, we have a duty, especially the Bar and the Bench, to make it better than we met it,” the judge said.
He also commended the counsel to the defendants for their cooperation and the way they conducted themselves during proceedings.
An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the court by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.
Saraki and Ekweremadu, as well as a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy Clerk, Ben Efeturi, were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, this year via charge No. CR/219/16.
But in a motion filed on Thursday, Loveme said Umar, an official in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), on September 30 told him that he had studied the case diary and “had decided to amend the charge in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper.”
However, a similar charge against the parties is pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja.