The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court, has granted bail to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two other accused persons — Salisu Maikasuwa, former clerk of the national assembly, and Benedict Efeturi, deputy clerk of the legislature.
Saraki, Ekweremadu and others were docked before Justice Yusuf Haliru over their alleged complicity in forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015. They pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against them by the federal government.
Shortly after the defendants entered their plea to the charge marked CR/219/16, the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, notified the court of FG’s counter-affidavit opposing release of the accused persons on bail.
Diri told the court that the counter-affidavit which was filed Monday morning, was still pending before the court’s registry. He therefore persuaded trial Justice Yusuf Halilu to stand-down the matter for an hour to enable the registry to transmit the process to the court for hearing.
In his argument, Saraki’s counsel, Paul Erokoro asked the court to grant the Senate President bail on self-recognition.
“The entire proof of service did not mention the third defendant (Saraki) in this case. The police never investigated the third defendant. It is a notorious fact that the third defendant has been standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT) so it is ridiculous to say he will run away. He is the president of the senate, where will he run to? He is too big to hide. I urge your lordship to grant him bail on self-recognition,” he argued.
Joseph Daodu, counsel to Ekweremadu, who stated that it is shameful how the country is denting its democracy by the trial, requested the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition, adding that he is ready for trial.
“The third and fourth (Ekweremadu) defendants are number one and two citizens of the legislature. It is shameful we are denting our democracy this way. We are ready for trial even today, so we urge your lordship to grant the fourth defendant bail,” he said.
Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, counsel to Maikasuwa, and Mahmud Magagi, counsel to Efeturi also prayed the court to grant their clients bail.
The federal government, opposed the bail applications of Ekweremadu, Maikasuwa and Efeturi while urging the court to grant bail to only Saraki to avoid a vacuum in the senate.
The judge, who noted that the accused persons had not been proved guilty, hence granted them conditional bail.
He ordered that the defendants were to provide two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerians and who must own property in Abuja, the failure of which they would be remanded in Kuje prison, Abuja.
The judge adjourned to July 11 for trial.