Standing Rule forgery: Arraignment of Saraki, Ekweremadu may be stalled •Due to lack of service

Senator Bukola Saraki, left and Senator Ekweremadu

The Federal Government’s plan  to arraign the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Jabi, Abuja, over allegations of forgery and criminal conspiracy, may after all not  hold today.

This, Nigerian Tribune learnt, is because the charges had not been served on all the defendants as required by law.

The hearing is expected to be fixed for arraignment shortly after service is effected on the defendants.

Sources at the Federal Ministry of Justice said the Senate President, alongside the Deputy Senate President and their co-accused, would be arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu, on two-count charge of forgery and criminal conspiracy.

Saraki, Ekweremadu, a former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasu and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, were charged with criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Standing Rules used for the leadership election of the presiding officers of the Senate in June, last year.

The Federal Government stated that the offence of conspiracy was punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Act; and offence of forgery with “fraudulent intent” punishable under Section 364 of the same law.

Meanwhile, the  two-member panel of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), headed by Danladi Yakubu Umar, had, last week, adjourned the trial of Saraki, till today.

The tribunal will, today, hear a fresh motion brought before it by Saraki seeking an order of the Tribunal  disqualifying its chairman, Umar, from further presiding over the case.

Saraki filed his fresh application accusing Umar of bias based on the remark made by the Tribunal chairman at the last proceedings on June 7, while warning the defence against delay tactics.

Umar had warned Saraki’s lawyer that their delay tactics would not “reduce the consequences the defendant will meet in this Tribunal at the end of the trial.”

Saraki, in his fresh application filed by his lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, alleged that Umar’s statement would prejudice the outcome of the trial.

The Federal Government is prosecuting the Senate President on a 16-count charge, including false and anticipatory assets declaration, which he allegedly made between 2003 and 2011, when he held sway as governor of Kwara State.

Saraki is also accused  of operating foreign accounts as a public officer and of receiving governor’s salary or emoluments in addition to his salary as a senator for some period after completing his two terms as governor and got elected as a senator.