The federal government on Thursday withdrew the charges of criminal conspiracy on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015, filed against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, at the Abuja High Court.
Ministry of Justice had filed an application to amend the charges and attached the amended charges. In the new charges, only the former clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former deputy clerk, Mr. Ben Efeturi, were listed as the accused persons.
Saraki and Ekweremadu were charged alongside Maikasuwa and Efeturi for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Orders. All of them pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail. They were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016.
However, a litigation officer from the Ministry of Justice, Odudu Loveme, yesterday deposed to an affidavit, which was attached to the new charges.
Loveme averred that the prosecutor, Aliyu Umar (SAN), had on September 30, in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “had decided to amend the charges in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.
On the face of the new charge, only Messrs Maikasuwa and Efeturi would now face prosecution.
Count one of the new charge reads: “Salisu Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi, on or about the 9th day of June 2015 at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, agreed to do an illegal act, to wit to make the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended), without the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which act was committed by yourselves and that you thereby committed the offence of criminal conspiracy.”
They were also accused of fraudulently amending the 2015 Senate Standing Orders without the authority of the 7th Senate “with the intention that the senators-elect of the 8th Senate would believe that the said Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended), was made by the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria”.