Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (All Progressives Congress, Borno South Senatorial District) has said his suspension was intended by the leadership of the Senate to silence him and prevent him from commenting on what he perceived to be wrong.
Ndume accused the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Senate leadership of ignoring intervention from traditional rulers from his part of the country, who have intervened to have him recalled.
The Senator, who faulted his suspension for 90 days, said the Senate was without powers to suspend him from his seat and deny his constituency its deserved representation.
Ndume said these in a suit filed by his lawyer, Marcel Oru, before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017 has the Senate President, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions) as defendants.
Ndume argued that his suspension was intended by the Senate leadership to get back at him for merely raising questions about issues relating to the conduct of privileged individuals in the Senate.
The Senator was suspended when he drew the Senate leadership’s attention to media publications to the effect the Senate harassment of the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Hameed Ali was in respect of the seizure of a vehicle imported for Saraki, using forged papers. And the controversy over Dino Melaye’s educational qualifications.
He noted that fellow legislators, who made similar observations in the past were neither suspended not penalised as was done to him under the Saraki-led Senate.
Ndume said: “Senators of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or members of the House of Representatives and indeed, all legislators have the privilege to express themselves on the floor of the Senate or House of Reps and all previous matters as the present one have not attracted suspension or punitive action.
“In the scandal on variation in the name of Evan Enwerem, the Senator, who raised the matter was not suspended. In the certificate scandal involving Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, the member, who raised the issue was not punished after clearance of Masari.
“In the certificate scandal involving Hon. Dimeji Bankole, the member, who raised the issue was not punished after the clearance of Bankole. In the certificate scandal involving Hon. Patricia Etteh, the member, who raised the issue was not punished after the investigation and clearance of Etteh.
Ndume said, in a supporting affidavit to his originating summons, that his purported suspension was “a calculated attempt to gag, intimidate and indeed, over awe me and any outspoken Senator of my ilk and fore close me the right to represent the people of Borno South Senatorial District.
He said: “The committee was to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the aforesaid allegations contained therein and not to impose any punishment on me as I was not the author of the publications and the issue of punishment came to me as a rude shock as I was not given any fair hearing on the issue of my suspension for allegations that I never published.
“The authors of the aforesaid publications were, at no time, invited by the committee in its investigation nor were they heard or sanctioned by the committee. The committee, in recommending punishment/sanction of suspension of 181 legislative days (one year) for me went or acted outside their powers.
“I am a member of the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative (PCNI) charged with the responsibility of the reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation, using the Buhari plan and my suspension will deprive me and my constituents of meaningful contributions thereto.
“All attempts by the Governor of Borno State, traditional rulers from Borno State, distinguished and eminent personalities from the North East region of Nigeria to resolve my suspension with the 1st and 3nd defendant has proved abortive to resolve and recall me,” Ndume said.
He wants the court to declare his suspension unlawful and to set aside the purported suspension contained in a letter by the Senate dated March 30, 2017.
Ndume, who seeks N500m compensation for his unlawful suspension, urged the court to order Saraki amd the Senate to pay him all his outstanding salaries and allowances forthwith.
On July 6, Justice Babatunde Quadri directed the service of processes on the defendants, which the plaintiff effected last Monday.
Hearing in the case has been fixed for September 1.
Source: The Nation