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Forgery: FG arraigns Saraki, Ekweremadu, others

The Federal Government on Monday arraigned Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, in an FCT High Court, Jabi, on a two-count charge of forgery and conspiracy.
Also arraigned were the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Clerk of the Assembly, Benedict Efeturi.
The Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney-General of Federation brought the charge against the principal officers of the legislature.
The prosecution had accused the defendants of conspiring to forge the 2011 Senate Standing Order on June 9, 2015.
It alleged that the document was circulated among other senators and used to elect the principal officers of the 8th National Assembly.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Mohammed Diri, said the offence contravened Section 97 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 364 of the same law.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty when the charged was read to them.
Mr Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), who led the other defendants’ counsel, applied for unconditional bail of their clients.
They said the alleged offences were bailable, adding that the defendants were prepared to stand justice.
They further said the positions held by Saraki and Ekweremadu were strategic to the smooth running of the National Assembly as an arm of government.
The prosecution opposed the bail of Maikasuwa and Efeturi, adding that they were directly involved in the administration of the institution.
“My Lord, there is the likelihood that they will tinker with evidence if granted bail.
“As for Saraki and Ekweremadu, we do not have any objections as the Federal Government is not inclined to distabilise legislative process,’’ he said.
The judge, Justice Halilu Yusuf after distilling the arguments advanced by the counsel admitted all the defendants to bail.
Yusuf, however, held that the bail was not automatic, adding that the defendants must produce two sureties each with landed property in Maitama, Garki or Asorkoro Areas of the FCT.
He further said the sureties must be certified as people of integrity and good standing.
“Failure to meet these conditions would lead to the remand of the defendants,’’ he held.
He adjourned the matter till July 11.

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