Court nullifies Senator Ndume’s suspension

Orders payment of salary areas, allowances A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has yesterday nullified the suspension of former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, from the Senate, stressing it is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. It therefore set aside the suspension letter dated March 30, and issued to the Senator representing Borno South, by the Senate. The court equally ordered the President of the Senate and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who were the first and the second respondents in the suit filed by Senator Ndume, to pay him all outstanding salaries and allowances. Senator Ndume had approached the court following his suspension from the Senate through the letter dated March 30. Recall that the Senate had on the March 30 this year, suspended Ndume for a total of 90 legislative days for what it described as “not conducting due diligence before filing a petition against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye.” Ndume was also indicted “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleagues, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute”, as contained in the report submitted by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu. Delivering judgment in the suit, which was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017, Justice Babatunde Quadri, held that the suit has merit and as such, succeeded in part. He said: “The suspension of the plaintiff is hereby declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. The purported suspension contained in the letter of March 30, 2017, is hereby set aside. ‘The first and second defendants are hereby directed to pay the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances forthwith.” The court however declined to grant relief No. five, which urged the court to award N500million to Ndume as general, exemplary and aggravated damages over his suspension from the Senate. The judge held: “Relief No. five 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 and by extension, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Besides the President of the Senate; the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria; Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, who recommended Ndume’s suspension was also a defendant in the suit. In a 3 -paragraph affidavit in support of his originating motion, and which was deposed to by Senator Ndume, the lawmaker averred that on March 21, 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 an online and medium and one print medium. “That the insinuations or allegations mentioned online and in the print media were that: Senator Dino Melaye did not complete his first degree programme at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; and that the invitation of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (retired) 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 these outfits. “That pursuant to my rising on Orders 14 and 15 based on the aforesaid insinuations and allegations by the media on the said March 21, I laid the said 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 third 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 its 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, “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and institutions of the Senate to unbearable dispute.”

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