Senate forgery case is dead on arrival

Bukola Ekeremadu

by Adebayo Abdullahi

The Federal Government on Monday successfully arraigned Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and two others for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders, 2011.

But the case may not succeed because of a missing link in the investigation conducted by the Police and absence of a key actor the prosecution could have built a water-tight case around.

OrderPaper.ng can authoritatively report that the Police investigation report submitted to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, contained a no-case recommendation even though some “elements of impropriety” were established in the use of the Senate Standing Order for the inauguration of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015.

The no-case submission was arrived at because of the death of the Acting Clerk of the Senate, Adedotun Durojaiye in November last year.

The late Durojaiye had been appointed acting Clerk of the Senate in April 2014.

He was until his death, the chief custodian of official instruments and paraphernalia of the Senate, including the Standing Orders.

Competent sources familiar with the police investigation told OrderPaper.ng in confidence that investigation did reveal ‘certain levels of conspiracy and possible alteration of the Senate rule book used for the inauguration of the Senate and subsequent election of Saraki and Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.”

The sources however told OrderPaper.ng that the investigation was hampered by the sudden death of Durojaiye, the top bureaucrat who actually laid the ground for and practically conducted the inauguration and election even though then Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, ceremonially performed the events with assistance from Deputy Clerk, Benedict Efeturi.

Maikasuwa and Efeturi are the two others arraigned alongside Saraki and Ekweremadu on a two count charge of forgery and conspiracy at an Abuja High Court on Monday.

OrderPaper.ng exclusively gathered that the Police authority in forwarding the case file to the Attorney General did indicate that a successful prosecution may be impossible given the death of a principal actor in the alleged forgery.

“I can tell you clearly that the Police report on the case recommended a no-case submission but you know the prerogative of whether or not to prosecute lies entirely with the Chief Law Officer which is the Attorney General,” one of the sources toldOrderPaper.ng in confidence because he was not at liberty to speak on the matter.

The loophole identified by the police is the reason why it had taken so long for the Federal Government to commence prosecution, said the source who expressed doubts that “any conviction can be achieved at the end of the day.”

Recall that some Senators had dragged the leadership to the Police over allegations that the Standing Orders used for the inauguration of the 8th Senate was forged to give Saraki and Ekweremadu an edge to emerge as presiding officers.

Both Saraki and Ekweremadu pleaded not guilty to the charges in court and were subsequently granted bail.

Trial is expected to commence on July 11, 2016.

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