The Federal Government has formally charged Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, of forging the 2015 Senate Standing Rules used in electing them to office.
Also charged alongside Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu are the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy Benedict Efeturi.
The charges were filed more than a year after the controversial election and inauguration of the two principal officers on June 9, 2016.
Days after the elections, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC-Kaduna North) petitioned the Inspector General of Police, alleging that the Standing Rules used for the exercise was forged.He accused the four officials of conspiracy, and demanded criminal investigation of the matter.
The police later launched an investigation, submitting a detailed report to the nation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. Mr. Hunkuyi is the secretary of Unity Forum, a group of All Progressives Congress Senators opposed to the emergence of Mr. Saraki, preferring his opponent, Senator Ahmed Lawan instead.
The Federal Government has now taken steps to press criminal charges against the Senate president and the three other officials. The case, with reference number, CR/219/16, was filed on June 10, 2015 at the Federal High Court in Abuja. It has been assigned to Justice Yusuf Haliru.
The case bothers on two-count charge, including offence of conspiracy punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law; and offence of forgery with “fraudulent intent” punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law.
Count One reads;
”That you Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arm Zone, Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves, to forge the Senate Standing Order, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed the offence of Conspiracy, punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law”
Count Two reads;
“That you Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arm Zone, Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with fraudulent intent forged the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended) causing it to be believed as the genuine Standing Order, 2015 and circulated same for use during the inauguration of the 8th Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when you knew that the said Order was not made in compliance the procedure for amendment of the Senate Order, you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law.”
The Special Adviser to Mr. Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the new case against the Senate President was just unravelling.
“It’s a curious and very very recent development,” Mr. Olaniyonu said. “We are watching.”
Mr. Saraki is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of assets.