Senate President of Nigeria, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, former clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasua and Benedict Efeturi, deputy clerk of the national assembly have all pleaded not guilty to a two count charge leveled against them.
Saraki, Ekweremadu, Maikasuwa, Efeturi, are facing charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and forgery of the senate standing rules, 2015, brought against them by the federal government.
They all took their plea at an Abuja FCT High court sitting in Jabi on Monday during the commencement of their trial for alleged forgery.
The plea followed an application by the lead prosecution counsel, M.S.Diri who told the Justice Yusuf Halilu-led court that the matter was for arraignment and urged the court to direct that the two count charge be read to the accused persons.
It was gathered that Justice Halilu stood down the matter for an hour at the instance of the prosecution who said that he needed time to file a response to applications for bail by the defendants.
Paul Erokoro (SAN) Saraki’s lawyer did not object to the request of the prosecution just as Joseph Daodu Ekweremadu’s lawyer did not.
The accused persons were initially scheduled for arraignment on June 21, but that was moved forward following the inability of the prosecution, the Attorney-General of the Federation, to serve notices of summons on the defendants individually.
Count one of the charge against them 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.”