Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki and his Deputy Ike Ekweremadu during their trial for Forgery at the Federal High Court Federal Capital Territory in Abuja... . momday. Photo: Kingsley Adeboye

  •  As court discharges Senate President, Deputy, others   Atiku hails Buhari

By Yemi Adebowale in Lagos, Tobi Soniyi and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu have described the case of forgery against them, which was discharged yesterday as a “politically-induced distraction, which came at a time when all hands must be on deck to solve the problem of economic recession biting the people, destroying homes and creating severe social disorientation in communities.”

Saraki, Ekweremadu, a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy Clerk, Ben Efeturi were discharged following the withdrawal of the criminal charge against them by the federal government.

In a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the presiding officers of the upper chamber of the National Assembly said the court decision was consistent with their position that the case lacked any merit and that the charge of forgery of the Senate rule filed against them can never be substantiated by any fact.

They described the verdict of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory as a welcome development and a vindication of their position from the beginning of the case that they are innocent of the accusations leveled against them.

“We express appreciation to all our colleagues in the Senate for their solid support and understanding while the case lasted. We also thank other parliamentarians in and out of the country and the international community as a whole for the consistent solidarity they displayed to us and their belief in our genuine cause since the commencement of the case.

“Our gratitude goes to our legal team, family members, friends, supporters, civil society organisations, members of the bar, the media and the generality of the people, many of who came out to add their voice to the fact that what the nation needs at this period of economic crisis is not a distraction or any show of division but a clear signal that all arms of government are ready to co-operate with one another to find solutions to the nation’s economic recession.

“We believe much time has been wasted in pursuing this needless case and we hope that the same treatment will be extended to other politically-motivated cases. It is also hoped that from now on, the various arms of government will be allowed to devote all the available time and resources to working on the problems confronting the country and finding solutions that will lead to higher standards of living for the majority of the people of Nigeria.

“At this point, what the country needs is a strong economy where a very large per centage of those who are willing to work can be productively engaged; where there is solid infrastructure, where the atmosphere brings the best out of the people and where all are able to realise their full potential.  We pledge to work for Nigeria to achieve all these”, Saraki and Ekweremadu stated.

Meanwhile, Justice Yusuf Hallilu yesterday struck out the forgery charge and released all the four defendants accordingly.

An indication that the four defendants would be set free emerged when the federal government counsel, Alhaji Aliyu Umar applied to the judge for withdrawal of the case filed in June this year.

The lawyer told the court that because the current government had respect for the rule of law, it was withdrawing the charge because another matter on the same forgery was pending at a Federal High Court also in Abuja.

Umar submitted that it was trite law that two court of coordinate or equal jurisdiction could not sit and adjudicate on same issue at the same time.

He therefore urged the court to strike out the charge and release all the four defendants in the said charge.

Paul Erokoro SAN, who represented Saraki, Joseph Daudu SAN for Ekweremadu and other lawyers in the matter did not object to the withdrawal of the charge.

Justice Halilu praised the prosecution counsel for bringing his wealth of experience into the matter which led to the withdrawal of the charge.

The judge said that it required courage for a government lawyer to advise his client on the need to avoid abuse of judicial process adding that the Senior Advocate of Nigeria had shown great courage.

The judge said: “By this courage, you have chosen the part of honour and good professionalism. As Nigerians, we have a duty especially the bar and bench to make this country better than we met it.”

He also praised counsel to the defendants for their cooperation and the way they conducted themselves during proceedings.

The judge added that they should not feel witch hunted but to believe that the police have their duty to carry out investigation in any matter but whatever they (police) do should be in the interest of the nation.

The Federal Government had on Thursday filed a motion for the withdrawal of the charge of criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Senate Standing Rule, 2015 allegedly used to elect Saraki as Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu as his Deputy.

An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.

Atiku Hails Buhari Dropping NASS Forgery Case

Former Vice President and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar commends the Federal Government, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari for the withdrawal of criminal charges against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, thus paving the way for the resolution of the impasse between both arms of government.

The former Vice President describes it as “a wise and timely move”.

In a press statement released by his Media Office in Abuja on Friday, 7th October, 2016, the former Vice President says that the move by the Federal Government is an indication that the government values the much-needed cordial relationship between the Executive and Legislature and would take steps to ensure that it remains harmonious in the interest of the nation, and the advancement of our democracy.

The Turakin Adamawa says that it is only in the situation of harmonious, cordial and corporative relationship between the three arms of government that real progress and development can take place in the polity.

Arguing that all hands needs to be mobilized to tackle the current economic difficulties in the country, and get the nation out of economic recession, the former Vice President states that both the Executive and Legislature need to come together to find solutions to the current economic recession by eliminating all issues that promote strife and mistrust.

Ariku said that the political crisis does little or no good in a democracy, the former Vice President advises all individuals and political forces in the country that still have issues to come together and resolve their differences for the good of the nation and the APC.

While describing President Muhammadu Buhari as a statesman and a man of peace, the former Vice President said  that “the decision by the Executive to end the disturbing allegations against the Senate leadership opens a new page in the relationship between the Executive and Legislature and was forthcoming because President Buhari has never been comfortable with actions or issues that unnecessarily heats up the polity”.

He urged the National Assembly to reciprocate the spirit behind the resolution of the impasse by stepping up is collaborative efforts with the Executive arm of government in the arduous task of fixing the nation’s broken economy and infrastructure.