The trial of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, on alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules could not proceed as scheduled on Tuesday at Federal Capital Territory High Court due to inability of the prosecution to serve the the defendants with the charges.
Also being tried alongside the two presiding officers of the Senate in the forgery case are the outgoing clerk of the National Assembly, Salishu Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Ben Efeturi.
All the accused persons were absent in court as a result of failure to serve them the charges.
David Kaswe, the prosecution counsel told the court in an oral application that effecting personal service of the charge on the defendants has proved very difficult.
The prosecution also deposed an affidavit to show efforts it made to furnish the defendants with copies of the charge against them.
Kaswe therefore urged the court to invoke sections 123 and 124 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and order that the charge be served on the defendants by substituted means.
Justice Halilu acceded to the request, though he noted that the prosecution ought to have supported the application with a motion ex-parte.
According to him, the oral application granting the oral request for substituted service is important because the defendants need to be aware of the criminal charge pending against them.
The judge consequently ordered that the summons be pasted on the notice board of the National Assembly to compel the four accused persons to be present in court at the next adjourned date of 27 June.
Saraki, Ekweremadu, Maikasuwa, and Efeturi are facing charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015, brought against them by the Federal Government.
The Standing Orders was used to conduct the elections that led to their emergence as the presiding officers of the National Assemby.
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.”