There are indications that the senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki may not be ready to answer to charges of alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 even as trial commences at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday.
Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, alongside the immediate past clerk to the national assembly, Mr Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, and the deputy clerk to the national assembly, Benedict Efeture, are to face trial over the alleged forgery.
According to The Nation, a copy of the charge sheet glimpsed by its correspondents showed that all the four defendants will face a two-count charge filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), through Principal State Counsel, D. E. Kaswe, pursuant to Section 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
The first count on the charge sheet borders on criminal conspiracy, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code, while the second count is based on alleged forgery contrary to Section 362 of the Penal Code Law.
Saraki through his lawyer, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), has however filed a notice of preliminary objection, seeking to stop the trial from proceeding. He argued through his counsel, that no prima facie case has been established against him.
Mr Raji (SAN), in the notice of preliminary objection, urged the court to quash the charges against Saraki and the three others.
He also asked the court to alternatively adjourn the case sine die (indefinitely) because the simultaneous trial of the senate president at the High Court and the Code of Conduct Tribunal might jeopardize his right to fair hearing.
The trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu is expected to consider Saraki’s preliminary objection after the charges have been read and the plea of the four defendants taken on Monday, and thereafter rule on whether the trial is to proceed or not.
Meanwhile, a source close to the senate president told newsmen that Saraki has been unable to travel for this year’s lesser hajj in “deference to the law” as he waits to see the outcome of his application for adjournment of the trial before leaving the country for the religious exercise.
“The outcome of Monday’s (today) session at the court will determine whether or not the Senate President can still perform the lesser Hajj. In the last 10 years, he has not missed this religious obligation,” the source said.