All is set for today’s arraignment of Senate President Bukola Saraki and three others for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015(as amended).
The others are Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Benedict Efeture.
The four are billed to face trial at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi District Abuja, which is a stone’s throw from the Code of Conduct Tribunal where the Senate President is responding to some charges.
It was learnt that following notice of his arraignment for forgery, Dr. Saraki aborted his trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj (Umrah).
Saraki through his counsel, says no prima facie case has been established against him.
According to a copy of the charge sheet, all the four defendants will face 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.
While the first charge borders on criminal conspiracy, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code, count two is based on alleged forgery contrary to Section 362of the Penal Code Law.
Counsel to the senate president Ahmed Raji (SAN), has urged the court to quash the charges against him and the three others.
He also asked the court to alternatively adjourn the case sine die because the simultaneous trial at the High Court and the Code of Conduct Tribunal might jeopardize his right to fair hearing.
There were indications that trial judge Justice Yusuf Halilu may entertain Saraki’s preliminary objection after the charges have been read and the plea of the four defendants taken.
On Saraki’s shelved Saudi trip, a top source said: “The Senate President was scheduled for lesser Hajj on Friday but he could not perform his religious obligation because of the trial.
“In deference to the rule of law, he chose to stay at home to prove his innocence. Going to Saudi Arabia might attract another meaning.
“You can see that Saraki has nothing to fear at all. He believes he will go through the judicial process as a democrat.
“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.”