Alleged Senate Rules Forgery: Court Grants Saraki, Others Bail

Bukola Saraki, Senate, Ike EkweremaduA Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and the fourth defendant over charges of alleged forgery of the Nigerian Senate Standing Rules.

The decision was made on Monday when they appeared before the court.

The court asked the accused to produce two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerian men or women.

It stated that the sureties must own properties in Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse II or Garki areas in the Federal Capital Territory.

The trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu, said that the accused would be remanded in Kuje Prison, if they fail to meet the bail conditions.

The court has adjourned the proceedings till July 11 for commencement of trial.

The two Senate leaders were arraigned before the Federal High Court along with a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Salisu Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr Benedict Efeturi.

Earlier, after the counsels to the accused had announced their appearances and told the court that they had filed bail applications, the trial judge asked them to put them forward.

Presenting a bail application, the lawyer to the first accused person, Mr Maikasuwa, said that the application was supported by a written address which formed his argument in the application and a two-paragraph affidavit sworn to by the accused person.

He argued that the accused person would not interfere with investigation, insisting that there were no facts to back the claim that he would jump bail.

Mr Maikasuwa’s counsel also reminded the court that the prosecution had said in his affidavit before the court that investigations had been concluded.

The counsel to Mr Efeturi also brought forward a six-paragraph affidavit and urged the court to grant the accused bail.

He also said he had filed a written address, requesting that the court should grant bail in the most liberal terms.

On his part, the counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Erukoro, said his application was supported by a 28-paragraph affidavit.

He also said he had a further affidavit sworn by the 3rd accused person.

“The entire proof of service does not contain a single reference to the Senate President in connection with the charges. He was never invited during investigation. So, saying he will interfere with the investigation is unfounded especially as the prosecuting says investigations have been concluded.

“It is a notorious fact that the Senate President has been standing trial at the CCT (Code of Conduct Tribunal) and has been consistent in his attendance there, so there is no way he will not attend the trial,” he told the court.

He also pointed out that Senator Saraki is the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that there was no way he would jump bail.

He requested that bail should be granted on self-recognisance.

Counsel to the deputy Senate President, Mr Jacobs Daudu, also said his client was not mentioned anywhere in the proof of evidence and that he should be granted bail on self-recognisance.

He stressed that the spirit of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was that bail would be such that the accused persons could be able to attend trial.

The counsel to the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly said he had also submitted a six-paragraph affidavit, urging the court to grant his client bail.

He also told the court that he had filed a written address, urging the court to grant bail in the most liberal terms.

The accused persons claimed that they were ready for the trial. They asked the court to start the hearing and take as many as they could of the prosecution witness.

On his part, the prosecutor, Mr Mohammed Diri, however, said he would not oppose the bail of the Senate President on whatever terms the court deemed fit, because he is the number three citizen, and opposing bail may disrupt the business of the Senate.

He, however, said that in respect of the other three accused – one, two and four – the prosecution would vehemently oppose bail.

According to him, the two-count charge brought against the three defendants was very serious, something that required caution in handling of bails.

The charge attracts a 14-year jail term.

He also said that the three defendant’s evaded service of processes until the court granted an order of substituted service.

“This means that if they are granted bail the three defendant’s will attempt to evade trial,” he stressed.

He further referred to section 162 subsection of the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act and told the court that the charges were the same for all the accused persons, but stated that he understood the political undertone of omitting the Senate President.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

After listening to both parties, the judge stated that he had considered the applications and counter affidavits, soldering on the written addresses.

He told the court that the essence of bail was to ensure the “liberty of an accused person who is considered innocent until proven guilty and ensure his attendance to trial”.

“The decision to grant bail is at the discretion of the court which should be granted judicially and judiciously, following laid down constitution in respect of the nature of offence.

“Indeed I have considered and soldered the applications and counters filed.

“The provisions of the ACJA lends support that an accused person shall be granted bail to enable him attend trial.

“I have listened to the position of the prosecution on the third defendant – Senator Saraki – and it is only fair and natural that an accused person, who is contoured innocent, shall be given opportunity to prepare for their trial.

“I shall not unnecessarily over flog the position they occupy,” he said, once again listing their positions at the National Assembly.

Justice Halilu further stressed that the applications for bail conditions sideline the arguments of their lawyers for all the defendants regardless of the swaying positions of the prosecution.

“I shall allow the one, two and four accused to go home on bail on the conditions that two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerians – men or women – who must own properties in Asokoro Maitama Wuse two or Garki.

“Failure to fulfil the bail conditions, they shall be remanded in Kuje Prison,” he stressed.

The judge then adjourned the proceedings till July 11 for commencement of trial.

Alleged Standing Rules’ Forgery: Saraki, Ekwerenmadu Others To Face Trial

Bukola-Saraki-and-Ike-EkwerenmaduThe Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, will be arraigned before an Abuja High Court on Tuesday on charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015.

The lawmakers are being charged along with two others – former Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Salisu Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr Benedict Efeturi.

In the affidavit filed on June 10, 2016, the Investigative Police Officer (IPO), swore that the investigation into the case had been concluded.

The affidavit read: “The charges filed through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, by the Federal Government, against the senators 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 Arms Zone, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this 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”.

It also accused them of allegedly forging the Order, 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.

The Police also claimed that the lawmakers knew that the said Order was not made in compliance with the procedure for amendment of the Senate Order.

Some Senator had sent a petition to the Police, alleging forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 that produced Saraki and his deputy, Ekweremadu during the election of principal officers for the Senate.

Court Orders Release Of Dasuki’s Former Aide

Sambo DasukiAn Abuja High Court sitting at Jabi has ordered the EFCC and the Nigerian Army to release Colonel Nicholas Ashinze, a former aide to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).

Delivering judgment on a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Colonel Ashinze, Justice Yusuf Haliru directed the respondents to immediately release the applicant on self-recognition.

He said that the detention of Dasuki’s aide for over three months without trial, was illegal and constituted a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the applicant.

The court also ordered the immediate release of documents and items the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seized from the house of the applicant.

Justice Haliru in his ruling on Monday, also advised both the EFCC and the Nigerian Army to behave responsibly and not to act as if Nigeria was still under military ‎dictatorship.

He said that the EFCC Act is not superior to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which stipulated that any person so detained should be charged to court within reasonable time not exceeding two months from the date of arrest.

The judge declined to grant an order directing the EFCC and Nigerian Army to either pay 500 million Naira damage or to offer public apology to the applicant who it said is still a serving military personnel.

The former aide to Colonel Sambo Dasuki has been in detention since December 23, 2015.

Court Sets January 5 For Hearing Of Anambra PDP Dispute

PDPCandidates seeking elective positions under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State may have to wait a while as an Abuja High Court has fixed Monday, January 5, 2015 to hear a plethora of applications filed by parties from the state.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the PDP, Dr Alex Izinyon challenged the motion filed by Mr Solomon Umoh seeking to vacate the order of the court restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting, publishing or recognizing any list of candidates that may be submitted to it by the Anambra State executive of the party for the 2015 general elections.

Mr  Umoh however opposed the argument of Doctor Alex Izinyon.

He told the court that having been served with multiple applications by Dr Izinyon, including a preliminary objection, he needed time to respond to the issues raised by the National Executive Committee of the PDP as it affects the lists of candidates from Anambra state.

Having listened to the arguments of both parties, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf granted the prayer of Mr Umoh and adjourned the matter for hearing till Monday , January 5, 2015.

It will be recalled that three parallel primary elections were conducted in the state to elect flag-bearers for the party in the 2015 elections.

Ihejirika Demands 100bn Naira In Suit Against Australian Hostage Negotiator

Azubuike-Ihejirika1The Immediate Past Chief Army Staff in Nigeria, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, has sued an Australian hostage negotiator, Mr Stephen Davies, who accused him of sponsoring Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern part of Nigeria.

In a libel suit filed at the Abuja High Court by his team of lawyers, General Ihejirika is demanding 100 billion Naira as aggravated damages for defamation.

The Retired General, who left military service in January 2014, said that he has “suffered ‎grievous wrong and has been exposed to scandal, ridicule, humiliation, character assassination, credit and reputation brought into disrepute, both within and outside the country, as a result of the libelous statement in question”.

General Ihejirika is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining Davis or his agents from further making defamatory comments about him.

He also seeks an order compelling Mr Davies to publish forthwith a dull and unqualified retraction and apology conspicuously in the front page of a daily newspaper to assuage the plaintiff for the said false malicious and libelous publication.

Meanwhile, he has secured an order of court to serve the process to Mr Davis, who lives in Perth, Australia, with the court’s processes.

Mr Davis was assisting the Nigerian Government to negotiate with the Boko Haram sect towards securing the release of some over 200 girls abducted by the terrorist group in April 2014.

Court Reserves Ruling On Suit Challenging Jonathan’s Eligibility To Contest In 2015

NFFThe Court of Appeal in Abuja has reserved ruling on the application by a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Umar Ardo seeking to appeal a High Court judgment which dismissed a suit challenging the eligibility of the President Goodluck Jonathan ‎to run for president in 2015.

One Cyriacus Njoku, who was the plaintiff at the Abuja High Court had filed an appeal challenging the judgment of Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi (now a justice of the court of appeal) after the judge dismissed his case.

Not satisfied with the judgement, Njoku had approached the court of appeal to challenge the judgement.

However, Ardo was not a party to the suit at the Abuja High Court but applied to appeal the judgment. In his application to join the suit, he said that he wanted to to contest for the president under the platform of the PDP.

Jonathan through his counsel, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) opposed the application on the ground that the applicant has not shown sufficient interest in the appeal and how his interest would be affected by the outcome of the appeal satisfy the provisions of section 243 (1) (a) of the constitution to enable him qualified to be made a party.

Mr Ardo is claiming that the decision of the Abuja High Court raised “grave points of constitutional law and jurisprudence that is the first of its kind in Nigeria.”

Ruling has been reserved for a date to be communicated to the parties.

Polling Units: Unity Party Of Nigeria Ask Court To Stop INEC

Polling UnitsA Federal High Court has fixed October 22, 2014, to rule on an ex-parte motion brought by the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from further creating additional 30,000 polling units pending the determination of the substantive suit.

In an ex-parte application moved before Justice Abdul Kafarati, the plaintiff’s counsel, Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana, further prayed the court for an interim injunction restraining the defendant and its privies from further creating, delineating, allocating any additional polling units to any part of the country pending the final determination of the motion on notice.

The party argued that it is speculative and premature for INEC to purportedly create additional polling units across the country based on projected registered voters when the field data collection from the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) distribution and Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) are yet to be concluded.

The plaintiff in its substantive suit is seeking an order of court declaring that the purported creation of additional 30,000 polling units in Nigeria by the defendant is ultra vires, unconstitutional, mala fide, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

UPN Challenges INEC Over Polling Units

INECThe Unity Party of Nigeria has approached an Abuja Federal High Court seeking for an order quashing or cancelling the creation of, delineation of or allocation of any additional polling units in any part of Nigeria by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

In three separate motions filed before the court, the party is asking the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the electoral body from creating additional 30,000 polling units in any part of the country without proper recourse to demographics, geographical population, statistics and record of voters within the wards.

The party is also praying the court for an order restraining the commission from putting into use any additional 30,000 polling units in Nigeria before the 2015 general elections.

The party further prays the court for a declaration that the purported creation of additional 30,000 polling units in Nigeria by INEC is ultra vires, unconstitutional, mala fide, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Court Restrains FCDA From Demolishing Houses In Gwarimpa

court_courtAn Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi has granted an order of injunction restraining the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) from further demolishing houses at Winning Clause Estate in Gwarimpa pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by subscribers to the estate.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mr Femi Falana told the court that ahead of the court’s sitting; agents of the estate developer demolished several houses despite a consent judgment of the court which mandated parties to maintain the status quo.

Lawyer to the former owners of the estate, Mr Imoke Steve, also condemned the demolition exercise saying the defendants acted outside the consent judgment agreed to by all the parties.

Justice Senchi after granting the injunction adjourned hearing of the suit to May 19.

The Development Control Department of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had led over 60 armed soldiers and mobile policemen to the estate for a demolition exercise where over 200 houses were pulled down.

 

NNPC Staff Murder Trial: Court Fixes Feb 13 For Bail Application

An Abuja High Court has fixed February 23 for ruling on the bail application filed by counsel to Akinlade Taiwo, Timothy Lekan and two others, accused of murdering one Mister Sylvester Emefiele, a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

At the resumed hearing of the case, the defence counsel moved a motion for the bail of the accused persons, but the application was opposed by the police prosecutor on the ground that the accused persons are standing trial for murder, an offence which attracts death upon conviction.

Although lawyers to the parties declined commenting on the case, the Force Public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent of Police Frank Mba, in an interview said that the accused persons have already confessed their role in the murder of Mister Emefiele who was reported to have left Lagos on September 23, 2012.

The Force Public Relations Officer advised members of the public to be wary of the kind of vehicles they enter to avoid falling victim to hoodlums.

Abuse Of Power: Court Frees El-Rufai

An Abuja High Court has freed former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, of charges of abuse of power.

The former FCT minister, now a leading member of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, was charged under the Corruption and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 for using his position to corruptly revoke a plot of land from its previous owners – Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc – and re-award same to his wife, Hadiza Ahmed El-Rufai.

The court gave the verdict acquitting Mr. El-rufai of criminal charges on Friday morning.

In his reaction, Mr El-Rufai said that he holds no grudges against his accusers. His media aide, Muyiwas Adekeye said: “It is a vindication he never doubted will come, confident in his innocence and the integrity with which he served this country.”

“Despite the magnitude of the pains he has endured, El Rufai has decided to put all this in the past. He intends to move on, stepping confidently into the future with forgiveness and goodwill, devoid of the cobwebs of grudge.”

Mr. El-Rufai has been on trial since 2008.

Alleged ThisDay Bomber Pleads Not Guilty

A suspect arrested for planning to bomb ThisDay office in Kaduna, Mustapher Mohammed, on Monday, pleaded not guilty to one count charge of terrorism at an Abuja High Court.

Mustapher Umar was arrested on 26th April 2012 in a white Honda marked Al 306 MKA allegedly laden with improvised explosive devices.

He was found at  Sog Complex, housing  ThisDay Newspaper, The Moment and The Sun in Kaduna.

On the the same day, the ThisDay office complex was bombed in Jabi Area of Abuja.

When the charge was read to him, Umar pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor, Simeon Labaran urged the court to set a date for the commencement of trial but Justice Adeniyi Ademola ordered for a house cleaning job on the part of the prosecution.

The court also directed the prosecutor to file Proof of Evidence, summary of its case, list of witnesses and other relevant documents within the next two weeks. The defense lawyer is to respond to the charges against his client, within two weeks.

Before the court adjourned to 12th of March for trial, the Defence lawyer, Mr. Felix Umahi sought an order of the court to allow him and a member of the accused person’s family access to his client.

Justice Ademola who agreed with the defense counsel, however made an order for access to be granted to only the legal team of the accused person.

He also set the 18th through to the 22nd of March for the defense counsel to make its case.