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UPDATED: Saraki, Ekweremadu, others granted bail

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekwerenmadu and two others have been granted bail by an FCT High Court, Daily Trust gathered.  The Senate…

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekwerenmadu and two others have been granted bail by an FCT High Court, Daily Trust gathered.

 The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and two others had this morning pleaded not guilty to the two count criminal charge of conspiracy and forgery before an Abuja High Court.

Others standing in the joint criminal trial along with Saraki and Ekweremadu are the immediate former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Mr. Bennedicta Efeturi.

Maikasuwa was the Clerck of the National Assembly ( CNA ) when the alleged offence was committed.

As at the time of filing in this report, the case has, however, been stood down till 12 noon to enable the Director of Public Prosecution ( DPP) Mr. Mohammed Diri to file a counter affidavit to Saraki’s bail application.

The case against the four accused persons with suit No. CR/219/16 is being tried by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT ) High Court,Jabi, Abuja before whom they were arraigned this morning.

Prosecution counsel, Muhammad S. Diri told the court that the case was for arraignment, urging the court to direct the two count charges to be read to the defendants.

When the court clerk read the charges to them, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The two count charges

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.

Drama in the court

As early as 8.30 am this morning, the court room and the entire court premises was crowded with sympathisers of the principal lawmakers.

The presiding judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, who appeared at exactly 9 am, was forced to retreat to his chambers by the surging crowd in the courtroom to allow senior lawyers alongside court staff to restore order.

When the judge returned to the bench, with half of the people already ushered out of the court room, the court proceedings commenced.

The efforts of J. B. Daudu and the court registrar notwithstanding, the congestion was still apparent with more people standing than those sitting.

Over 30 senators accompanied both Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu to the court.

Outside the court, supporters were chanting solidarity songs.

Dino Melaye, who was speaking with his colleagues, described the arraignment as a day of National embarrassment and disgrace of the judiciary.

Details later…

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