The trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu for alleged forgery was stalled on Wednesday, because the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, said he had not prepared his response to a fresh motion by the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
Mr. Umar is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federal, Abubakar Malami.
Mr. Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, are facing trial for alleged forgery of the Senate standing rules used to elect them as leaders of the Senate in June last year.
The matter was adjourned in July till September 28 following the annual vacation of the judiciary.
At the opening of session on Wednesday, Mr. Umar informed the court that he had just received a motion from the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court in respect of the charges against them and asking that the case be dismissed.
He added that since the matter has to do with the fundamental right of parties to fair hearing, he needs to properly prepare his response to the motion.
“Just now I became aware of a motion by the first defendant and served on us on September 26. The motion is fundamental because it is asking your lordship to decline jurisdiction and quash the charges. It is a short notice,” he said.
“I have not filed anything. It is fundamental to fair hearing. Under the circumstances, I will ask for an adjournment to enable me to respond to the motion.
“Honestly, I’m not ready for this motion. If it is only just two days, grant us the adjournment to respond to the motion,” he said.
Mr. Umar further said he had some internal issues he needed to attend to, before responding to the motion.
The counsel to the defendants objected the application for adjournment.
“The act of prosecution is serious business, especially in a criminal charge. The office of the Attorney-General which is the chief prosecuting counsel was served months ago. They had all the opportunities to respond to our applications,” said Mahmud Magaji, counsel to Mr. Efeturi.
“I urge your lordship not to allow us to descend to the internal working of the prosecution. In view of this, I’m objecting to the application for adjournment,”
Counsel to Mr. Saraki, Paul Erokoro, also asked the court to refuse application, describing it as lacking in merit.
“On behalf of the third defendant I submit that the application has no merit. If the Attorney-General has not deemed it fit to pass the entire case file to the counsel, then we should be allowed to move our motion. We are ready to proceed,” said Mr. Erokoro.
The trial judge, Yusuf Haliru, adjourned the matter till October 7.