Friday, October 7, 2016 3:16 pm
The Federal Government on Friday dropped the forgery charges it instituted against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy clerk, of National Assembly Ben Efeturi.
They were first arraigned on 20 June 2016 before Justice Yusuf Halilu of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi Abuja on charges of forgery of the senate standing order used to elect principal officers of the Senate in June last year. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Thursday, the Federal Government on Thursday filed a motion to drop the charges against the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
A litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme filed an affidavit in support of the motion before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory. In the amended motion, the Federal Government said it has studied the case diary and had decided to amend the charge to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu as defendants while Maikasuwa and Efeturi would continue to face trial over the allegation.
But at the resumption of trial of Friday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN) told the court that the Federal Government will withdrew the charges against all the four accused persons because of there was case in which similar charges were preferred against the accused pending at Federal High Court in Abuja.
“This government respects the rule of law, and hierarchy of the judiciary. It is obvious from these two applications (filed by Saraki and Ekweremadu) and the similar case before your learned brother, Justice Kolawole, at the Federal High Court who is dealing with the issue that we are withdrawing the charges.
“It is trite that two matters of the same subject matter cannot be before different courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
He therefore asked the Court to strike out the amended charge dated October 5, 2016 and the original dated June 10, 2016 while all the four defendants should be discharged.
The application was not opposed by the defence lawyers comprising and in accordance with the request of the prosecution, Justice Halilu struck out the case and discharged all the four accused.
It’s a victory for democracy- Senate
Meanwhile, the Senate, in a statement by its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the decision to withdraw the case and its subsequent dismissal as well as the discharge of the defendants has confirmed its earlier position that the case was an abuse of court process.
The statement reads in part, “We have always said it that that case was politically motivated. The executive cannot decide for the legislature the genuineness or otherwise of its standing rules.
“However, where there is a crack in the wall, it is easy for others to capitalize on the differences between us. Now that Senators have closed their ranks, the executive is only taking the right cue.
“We are happy with this development. We believe it is a sign of good things to come. It is a victory for democracy. A victory for separation of powers, checks and balances and constitutionalism.
“We commend the judiciary for its continuous dedication and commitment to the rule of law in our democracy. We restate our confidence in their ability to adjudicate and dispense justice in all matters in the polity which no doubt greatly contribute to national productivity. Our commendation also goes to the Federal Ministry of Justice for being courageous enough to do the right thing.”