Big ruling on Friday by Justice Babatunde Quadri of Federal High Court sitting in Abuja in the suit brought against the senate by Borno South Sen. Ali Ndume over his suspension on March 30.
- The suspension is illegal and unconstitutional, the judge ruled.
- Justice Quadri also ordered that Ndume be paid all his outstanding salaries and allowances.
- That Ndume should be allowed to resume his duties in the senate as a senator.
- However, the court refused to grant the N500 million damages Ndume asked for 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.”
On March 30, the senate suspended Ndume, its former majority leader, for 90 legislative days (six months).
His alleged offence: That he did not conduct due diligence before filing a petition against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Sen. Dino Melaye. He was accused of “bringing Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the senate to unbearable disrepute.”
Why this matters? The national assembly comes down hard on members who move against its leadership. However what the law prescribes is 14 days of suspension.
In the House of Representatives for instance, former Appropriations Committee chair, Abdulmumin Jibrin is still on suspension over allegations he made against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and some other principal officers. Despite the fact that the 180 days of suspension handed down on Jibrin elapsed in September, the House leadership has refused to recall him, demanding a written apology first.
In the midst of all these the constituents of these lawmakers do not enjoy the representation they voted for. Members of the national assembly were not elected by their colleagues, so it is illegal for colleagues to deny constituents of the service and contribution of their elected representatives.
Irony, irony, irony: One of those who championed Sen. Ndume’s suspension was Sen. Dino Melaye. In 2010, as a member of the House of Representatives, Melaye and 10 other colleagues led a movement in the House that caused a serious fracas on the floor of the parliament. He was suspended indefinitely. Melaye and his colleagues challenged the suspension in court which ruled that the suspension was illegal. It appears that no lesson was learnt from that.