As the case of forgery of Senate Standing Order comes up today, against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, as well as two others, the Federal Government of Nigeria has filed a motion to withdraw the charge of criminal conspiracy
Saraki and Ekweremadu, as well as a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy clerk, Ben Efeturi, were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016 via charge No. CR/219/16.
An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory on Thursday by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.
They all pleaded not guilty on July 27, 2016.
In the motion filed Thursday, Mr. Loveme said counsel to the Federal Government on the matter, Aliyu Umar, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on September 30 in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “ had decided to amend the charge in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.
Mr. Loveme added that he has, consequently, filed an amended charge.
“That I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be correct to the best of my knowledge and information and in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap 01 laws of the Federation of Nigeria,” he said.
Based on the amended charge, only Messrs. Maikasuwa and Efeturi would face prosecution.
Mr. Umar, in his written address in support of the motion to amend the charge on Thursday, stated that the sole issue for determination is “ whether the Court can permit the amendment of the charge in terms of the amended charge”.
He said the Court has the powers to permit the amendment based on the provisions of Section 216 (1) of the Administration o Criminal Justice Act.
The Section stated that “ A Court may permit an alteration or an amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at any time before judgment is pronounced.”
He also quoted Section 216 (3) which states that “ Where a Defendant is arraigned for trial on an imperfect or erroneous charge ,the Court may permit or direct the framing of a new charge, or any amendment to, or the alteration of the original charge.”
The Court had on September 28 adjourned the matter to Friday, October 7 for commencement of hearing.