Court de­clares Ndume’s sus­pen­sion il­le­gal

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - John Chuks Azu

A Fed­eral High Court in Abuja has de­clared the sus­pen­sion of Se­na­tor Ali Ndume by the Se­nate as il­le­gal and un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Jus­tice Ba­batunde Quadri in a judg­ment yes­ter­day held that Ndume’s sus­pen­sion for 90 leg­isla­tive days (six months) was a vi­o­la­tion of his fun­da­men­tal right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

He said the sus­pen­sion vi­o­lated Sec­tions 39, 64 (1) and 68 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion and Ar­ti­cle 13 of the African Char­ter on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights (Rat­i­fi­ca­tion and En­force­ment) Act CAP A9 Laws of the Fed­er­a­tion of Nige­ria, 2004.

Jus­tice Quadri fur­ther or­dered the se­nate to pay the se­na­tor his out­stand­ing salaries and al­lowances since March 2017.

The judge how­ever re­fused to award the N500m da­m­ages sought by Ndume, the de­ci­sion he said was to “en­gen­der rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” in the up­per leg­isla­tive cham­ber.

Ndume (APC, Borno South) was sus­pended via a let­ter dated March 30, 2017 for call­ing the at­ten­tion of the leg­is­la­ture based on Or­der 14 and 15 of the Se­nate Rules to two me­dia re­ports al­leg­ing that Se­na­tor Dino Me­laye did not com­plete his de­gree pro­gramme at the Ah­madu Bello Uni­ver­sity, Zaria and the re­port that the in­vi­ta­tion to the Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral of Cus­toms, re­tired Col. Hamid Ali, was in­formed by the seizure of a bul­let-proof SUV ve­hi­cle be­long­ing to Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki and at­tempt to clear same with fic­ti­tious doc­u­ments.

Ndume’s coun­sel, Mar­cel Oru, had ar­gued that the ac­tion amounted to “leg­isla­tive ras­cal­ity”, con­tend­ing that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee on on­line and news­pa­per re­ports headed by Se­na­tor Sa­muel Anyanwu did not call the jour­nal­ists that made them or grant Ndume fair hear­ing be­fore rec­om­mend­ing his sus­pen­sion for half a year when the max­i­mum pun­ish­ment for an in­frac­tion is 14 days.

How­ever, the Se­nate in a swift re­ac­tion has ex­pressed de­ter­mi­na­tion to ap­peal the de­ci­sion of the Fed­eral High Court on Mon­day Novem­ber 13.

In a state­ment by coun­sel to the Se­nate, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) yes­ter­day, the Se­nate said the court erred on three grounds.

Ozekhome con­tended that “the plain­tiff wrongly joined sev­eral causes of ac­tion in his orig­i­nat­ing sum­mons.”

He fur­ther stated “that ac­tion for the en­force­ment of fun­da­men­tal right to fair hear­ing can only be brought against a court or a tri­bunal es­tab­lished by law as held by the Supreme Court in sev­eral cur­rent cases and not against a com­mit­tee of a leg­isla­tive body.

PHOTO: Romoke W. Ah­mad

Sus­pected kid­nap­pers pa­raded at the Kwara State Po­lice Com­mand in Ilorin yes­ter­day

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