Senate President Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and former Deputy Clerk, National Assembly, Benedict Efeturi, were Monday, granted bail by Yusuf Haliru, Justice of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.
The four of them were arraigned on two count charge of conspiracy and forgery.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Muhammadu Diri, did not oppose Saraki’s bail application but “vehemently” opposed the bail applications of the other accused persons.
”The prosecution doesn’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.”
However, Justice Haliru, after listening to the arguments from both the prosecution counsel and defence counsels, stood down the case for an hour for ruling.
He was later to grant bail to the accused on liberal terms.
He said that the defendants were to provide two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerians and who must own property in Asokoro, Garki or Wise 11, Abuja, failure of which they would be remanded in Kuje prison, Abuja.
In his submission earlier, 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 (Saraki and 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.”
The Judge adjourned the case to July 11 for trial.
Meanwhile, placards carrying youths took over frontage of the court, chanting anti Buhari slogans.
Operating under the aegis of Effective Representative Ambassadors, they were vehement in opposing the trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
Ejike Ilo, coordinator, Effective Representatives Ambassadors, said they had to embark on the protest to make their feelings known, saying the group clamours for fairness from all arms of government.
“We clamour for politics and effective representative and what we are witnessing today in the National Assembly is peace and harmony, that is irrespective of party affiliation.
“The two faces of the Senate, Saraki and Ekweremadu, have been able to hold the Senate, despite that they belong to different parties.
“There is peace and harmony. But it appears that executive is bringing disharmony into there now, from all indications, it is like the executive arm of government wants to disrupt this peace. And we are saying no.
“The doctrine of desperation of power should be respected”, he said
Another member of the group, Ibekwe George, a worker with the Federal College of Education, Owerri, and consultant in businesses administration said: “We chose to be here to express our concern about Nigerian.
“We believe in the separation of power. We are not against the arraignment but what we are saying is that there should be equal power, not one arm suppressing the other
“Their arraignment will ridicule democracy. Their trial should be made to wait till they finished their tenure”, he declared.