Forgery charge against Saraki, Ekweremadu, others abuse of process: Court
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the forgery charge brought against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki;his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two others by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, amounted to gross abuse of court and legal process.
The court faulted the charge for being filed during the pendency of a civil action instituted to challenge the propriety of the police report on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rule 2015 and in which the AGF and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) are defendants and even joined issues with plaintiff in the court action.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, who ruled in a motion ex-parte filed by Senator Gilbert Emeka Nnaji seeking to stop the implementation of the police report on the forgery, held that the forgery charge against Saraki, Ekweremadu and others was done in a desperate haste that was not in the public interest.
Senator Nnaji had on July 23, 2015 instituted a civil action against the Inspector General of Police and the AGF at the Federal High Court wherein he challenged the propriety of the police report on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rule.
He later filed a motion ex-parte in which he asked for court order to stop the IGP and AGF from taking any step on the police report pending the determination of his originating summon and which the court partly granted.
Senator Othman Hunkuyi who wrote the petition that brought the police report had engaged Abubakar Malami, then as a private lawyer, as one of his counsels that filed a motion for him (Hunkuyi) to be joined as one of the defendants in the suit.
As at press time, the name of Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is still reflecting as one of the counsels representing Senator Othman Hunkuyi at the Federal High Court, Abuja and the case has been adjourned to July 6, 2016 by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
The judge said he would have nullified the forgery charge filed by the AGF before an Abuja High Court and set it aside for being a gross abuse of court and legal process if it had been filed before his court.
Justice Kolawole said that the actions of the IGP and AGF whose offices are created by law were in bad taste because his court had in the civil action asked parties not to do anything on the police report during the pendency of the civil suit so as not to render the civil action nugatory and cause faith accomplished .
The judge specifically took swipe at the AGF who he said, ought to use his power under the law to terminate any charge filed in breach of court process but found himself as a promoter of abuse of legal process.
“But, having regard to the peculiar facts which I have analysed, the said criminal charge dated 10/6/16 and attached as exhibit 'B' to the plaintiff's 'motion ex-parte' dated 23/6/16, given the course of these proceedings as I had in detail, highlighted, can only be seen as one that constitutes an 'abuse of legal process' to use the very words in section 174(3) of the constitution,” he stated.
The AGF had commenced a forgery and conspiracy case against Saraki, Ekweremadu, the immediate past Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, and the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben Efeturi, at an Abuja Federal High Court, accusing them of illegally tampering with the Senate Standing Rules in 2015.
Count one of the charge 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.” (The Authority)