A Federal High Court Abuja, presided by Justice Babatunde Quadri, has nullified the suspension of Senator Ali Ndume from the Senate.
Ndume is representing Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
The Senate had on March 30, 2017, suspended Ndume, former Majority leader for 90 legislative days for not “conducting due diligence” before filing a petition against Senate President Bukola Saraki and the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye.
Ndume was indicted “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute.”
Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions made the recommendation for Ndume’s suspension in its report, which was considered by the lawmakers at the plenary.
Apparently miffed by his suspension, Ndume headed to court to challenge his six months’ suspension.
Defendants in the suit were the President of the Senate; the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions).
Delivering ruling in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017 on Friday, Justice Quadri set aside the suspension and consequently ordered Ndume’s reinstatement into the Senate.
The court held that “The suspension of the plaintiff is hereby declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“The purported suspension contained in the letter of 30th March , 2017 is hereby set aside.
“The 1st and 2nd defendants are hereby directed to pay the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances forthwith.
However, the court declined to grant relief No. 5, which prayed for an order for payment of N500million to Ndume as general, exemplary and aggravated damages he incurred as a result of the 6months suspension.
“Relief No. 5 is hereby refused because I hope this will facilitate reconciliation in the Senate between the plaintiff and other members of the Senate and bring peace to our nascent democracy and all senators will hold sacrosanct their standing order, rule of law by extension the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” Justice Quadri stated.
Consequently, he did not make any order as to cost.
The court declared that “The suspension of Ndume for 90 legislative days (6 months) from the service of the senate as a senator in the senate with effect from 29th March, 2017 as contained in the letter of 30th March, 2017, is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional as it was done in violation of Sections 68 and 69 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
More so, the court granted, “An order setting aside the purported suspension of the plaintiff from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as contained in the aforesaid letter of 30th March, 2017.
“An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances (howsoever called) forthwith”.
In a 31 – paragraph affidavit in support of his originating motion, deposed to by Senator Ndume, the lawmaker averred that on March 21, 2017, pursuant to Orders 14 and 15 of the extant Senate Standing Orders (as amended), he drew the attention of the Senate to media insinuations already published online by Sahara Reporters and Daily Post and the print media Punch Newspaper respectively.
“That the insinuations or allegations mentioned online and print media were that: Senator Dino Melaye did not complete his first degree programme at Ahmadu Bello University Zambia; and that the invitation of the Comptroller -General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) by the Senate was informed by the seizure of a bullet-proof SUV vehicle belonging to the Senate President, and attempt to clear same with fictitious documents- and I urged the Senate to look into these insinuations or allegations being made by Sahara Reporters, Daily Post and Punch Newspapers.
“That pursuant to my rising on Orders 14 and 15 based on the aforesaid insinuations and allegations by Sahara Reporters, Daily Post and Punch Newspapers; on the said March 21, 2017, I laid the said four publications before the Senate.
“Consequently, the Senate, presided over by Deputy Senate President in line with Order 41 (3) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 amended, referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions (herein “called ” the Committee) headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (the 3rd Defendant) for detailed investigation.
“In the course of the Investigation by the Committee, the Committee invited me amongst others and I specifically informed the Committee that I did not write any petition against the 1st defendant or anybody for that matter but raised the issue as a matter of privilege seeing that the integrity of the Senate could be damaged by such publications in order that Senate may clear any alleged smear on its integrity.
“That on March 28, 2017, the Committee headed by the 3rd defendant submitted it’s report to the Senate wherein the Committee cleared the 1st defendant and Senator Dino Melaye and recommended that the Senate should suspend me for 181 days (1 year) with effect from March 28, 2017 “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and institutions of the Senate to unbearable dispute”.