Senate President , Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu were today granted bail by Justice Yusuf Haliru, justice of the federal capital territory (FCT) high court, in a case brought against them by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over allegation of forgery.
Two other accused persons former clerk of the national assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and Benedict Efeturi, deputy clerk of the legislature were also granted bail.
The accused persons were to provide two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerians and who must own property in Abuja, the failure of which they would be remanded in Kuje prison, Abuja.
The judge held that the essence of bail was to enable an accused person to stand trial.
The four accused persons are facing charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and forgery of the senate standing rules, 2015, brought against them by the federal government
The judge adjourned to July 11 for trial.
Paul Erokoro, Saraki’s counsel, had asked the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition.
He said that Saraki, being senate president, was “too big” to run away from trial.
“The entire proof of service did not mention the third defendant (Saraki) in this case. The police never investigated the third defendant,” he said.
“It is a notorious fact that the third defendant has been standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT) so it is ridiculous to say he will run away.
“He is the president of the senate, where will he run to? He is too big to hide. I urge your lordship to grant him bail on self-recognition.”
Making his submission, Joseph Daodu, counsel to Ekweremadu, also prayed the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition.
“The third and fourth (Ekweremadu) defendants are number one and two citizens of the legislature. It is shameful we are denting our democracy this way,” he said.
“We are ready for trial even today, so we urge your lordship to grant the fourth defendant bail.”
Also, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, counsel to Maikasuwa, asked the court to grant his client bail, saying that he was ready to stand trial.
“The essence of bail is to secure the attendance of the defendant. Throughout the period of investigation the defendant was never detained,” he said.
“Attendance to court is the primary objective of bail. We urge the court to grant the application.”
On his own part, Mahmud Magagi, counsel to Efeturi, asked the court to grant him bail on liberal terms.
”This application is seeking an order admitting the second defendant to bail pending the determination of the case,” he said.
“We urge your lordship to grant the second accused person bail on liberal terms.”
But Muhammadu Diri, counsel to the federal government, the prosecution, said that the court could go ahead to grant Saraki bail.
He, however, “vehemently” opposed the bail applications of the other accused persons.
”The prosecution don’t want to oppose the bail application of Bukola Saraki because he is the senate president — we don’t want to create a vacuum in the legislature,” he said.
“But we vehemently oppose the bail applications of the fourth (Ekweremadu), first (Maikasuwa) and second (Efeturi) defendants. The three defendants evaded the process of service. The three defendants if granted bail may evade trial.”