… says case still before FHC Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday, gave reasons why it decided to drop the two-count forgery charge it initiated against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki
and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, before an Abuja High Court at Jabi.
FG said it took the decision considering that the subject matter is already pending before Justice Gabriel Kolawole
of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
Aside Saraki and Ekweremadu, government prosecutor, Mr. Aliyu Umar, SAN, also applied to terminate further
proceeding on the charge against former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and
his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi.
Umar told the court that though his witnesses, including the Investigative Police Officer in charge of the case, were prepared and ready to testify, he said FG took the action as a mark of its respect for the rule of law.
He said: “My lord, having been well guided at the last proceeding and because of certain applications I am about to make, I did not ask my witnesses to come, though the
IPO is here.
“On October 5, I filed response to motions of 1st and 2nd defendants. I was also served a counter-affidavit dated October 8.
“My lord I have also been served with the 3rd defendant’s notice dated September 30 and that of the 4th defendant
dated October 4,
“However, in view of the fact that this government respects the rule of law and hierarchy of the judiciary, it is
obvious that these applications cannot go on.
“Your learned brother in the Federal High Court is dealing with issues that are supposed to be dealt with by your
“It is trite law that two courts of the same coordinate jurisdiction cannot be seized of the same matter at the
same time.
“Before this court, we have an amended charge dated October 5 and the original charge dated June 10 which the
defendants pleaded to on June 27. I apply to withdraw both the initial and amended charge.
“I ask my lord to strike them out and discharge all the defendants”, Umar submitted.
None of the defendants opposed the application, though their lawyers took turns to commend FG for withdrawing
the charge.
According to Saraki’s lawyer, Mr. J.B. Daudu, SAN, “going by facts and circumstances of the matter, it took the
government a lot of courage to take this bold step”.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Yusuf Halilu struck out the two charges.
“I have had the privilege of having the leadership of the National Assembly before me. For whatever reason, the prosecution has a duty to do its work and it has decided to withdraw the charge.
“On the other hand, my duty is to strike the two charges out, accordingly the charges, having been withdrawn, is
hereby struck out.
“The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants are accordingly discharged”, the Judge held.
The defendants were hitherto on trial 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.
The court had on June 27, granted the defendants bail after they pleaded not guilty to the forgery charge against
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 Abuja.
Meanwhile, the civil suit at the Federal High Court which was filed by Senator Bath Nnaji from Enugu State, is
challenging the powers of the FG to meddle in an internal affair of the Senate.
An Abuja high court has struck out the forgery charge brought against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and two others brought against by Federal Government.
The court discharged Saraki, Ekweremadu, Abubakar Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeture following the withdrawal of the criminal charge against them.

Justice Yusuf Hallilu struck out the charge and released all the four defendants accordingly.
An indication that the four defendants would be set free emerged when the federal government counsel Alhaji Aliyu Umar SAN applied to the judge for withdrawal of the case filed in June this year.
The senior counsel told the court that because the current government has respect for the rule of law, it was withdrawing the charge because another matter on the same forgery is pending at a federal high court also in Abuja.
Umar submitted that it is trite law that two court of coordinate or equal jurisdiction cannot sit and adjudicate on same issue at the same time.
He therefore urged the court to strike out he charge and release all the four defendants in the said charge.
Paul Erokoro SAN, who stood for Dr. Saraki, Joseph Daudu SAN who stood for Senator Ekweremadu and other lawyers in the matter did not object to the withdrawal of the charge by the federal government.

Justice Halilu in his brief ruling struck out the charge and discharged all four defendants.
The judge praised the prosecution counsel Alhaji Aliyu Umar SAN for bringing his wealth of experience into the matter which led to the withdrawal out of the charge.
He added that it takes courage for somebody that is standing for government in a criminal matter to have counseled his client on the need to avoid abuse of judicial process adding that the SAN has shown great courage.
“By this courage you have chosen the part of honour and good professionalism. As Nigerians we have a duty especially the bar and bench to make this country better than we met it”.
He also praised counsel to the defendants for their cooperation and the way they conducted themselves during proceedings.
The Judge added that they should not feel witch hunted but to believe that the police have their duty to carry investigation in any matter but whatever they (Police) do should be in the interest of the nation.
The Federal Government had on Thursday filed a motion for the withdrawal of the charge of criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Senate Standing Rule, 2015 allegedly used to elect Saraki as Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu as his Deputy.
An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.
Messrs. 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, 2016 via charge No. CR/219/16.
They all pleaded not guilty on July 27, 2016.

In the motion filed on Thursday, Mr. Loveme said counsel to the Federal Government on the matter, Aliyu Umar, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on September 30 in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution 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”.

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