The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, outgoing clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Mr. Ben Efeturi on charges of forgery of Senate Standing Orders, was stalled before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Jabi, Abuja, due to the court’s vacation that commenced today.
The defendants were in court briefly and left as soon as they were informed that the court was not going to sit.
In line with suit filed by Federal Government of Nigeria, a statement by the Principal State Counsel, Federal Ministry of Justice, D. E. Kaswe, alleged that Senators were on or about June 9, 2015, with fraudulent intent, forged the Senate Standing Orders 2011 (as amended), causing it to be believed as the genuine Standing Orders 2015 and circulated same for use during the inauguration of the 8th Senate when they knew that the said order was not made in compliance with the procedure for amendment of the Senate orders.
According to the statement, the four-some, thereby, committed an offence punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code laws.
Meanwhile, as exclusively reported by The PUNCH, a four-man team led by a former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Kano State, Aliyu Umar (SAN), took over the prosecution of the case from the Director Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Diri, today.
Diri was not present in court today but the Umar-led team was around to take the new date for commencement of trial.
The trial was adjourned till September 28.
Other members of the new prosecuting team are a Lagos-based public interest litigation lawyer, Jiti Ogunye; Raphael Origo, and a state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Yetunde Adeola-Cole.
The prosecuting council has lined up about 14 witnesses to provide evidences against the foursome during the postponed hearing.
The list of witnesses lined up to testify against the four persons includes both serving and former senators who were in the 7th Senate
The Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had on June 10 preferred the charges against Saraki and the other accused persons.
The accused persons were subsequently on June 27 arraigned on two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery before Justice Yusuf Halilu of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja.
The court had after the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 27, fixed today for commencement of trial.