A judge in a federal capital territory high court, Justice Yusuf Haliru, has granted Senate President Bukola Saraki and three other defendants arraigned Monday, June 27, 2016 by the federal government on forgery charges conditional bail.
Justice Haliru ordered that Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, and the other two defendants are 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 Maximum Prison, Abuja.
The other two accused persons are Salisu Maikasuwa, former clerk of the national assembly, and Benedict Efeturi, deputy clerk of the legislature.
The judge held that the essence of bail was to enable an accused person to stand trial.
He also said that accused persons had not been proved guilty, hence the need to release them on bail.
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.”
The judge adjourned to July 11 for trial.
Hattip to TheCable