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Court declares Ndume’s suspension from Senate illegal

Orders Senate to pay his outstanding salaries, allowances
Senate heads for Appeal Court, Monday

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Levinus Nwabughiogu

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, nullified the 90 days suspension that was handed to Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume by the Senate.

The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Babatunde Quadri, ordered the Senate and its President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to pay the embattled lawmaker who is representing Borno South Senatorial District, all his outstanding salaries and allowances.

 Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume 

Meanwhile, the Senate has resolved to appeal the judgement. In a swift reaction, the Senate’s Attorney in the matter, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, in a release made available to Saturday Vanguard yesterday said that the Senate has disagreed with the ruling and would on Monday, next week, file an appeal.

The statement from Ozekhome’s chambers read thus:

“The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, will on Monday, November 13, 2017, file an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, delivered today, 10th of November, 2017, .

“It is important to state clearly, that the Senate respectfully disagrees with the said judgement.

The court however declined to award N500million to Ndume as general, exemplary and aggravated damages over his suspension from the Senate since March 30.

The judgment was sequel to a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017, which Ndume filed to challenge his suspension for 90 legislative days (six months).

Aside Saraki and the Senate, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu was also cited as a defendant in the suit.

Specifically, the plaintiff prayed the court for a “declaration that the suspension of the plaintiff for 90 legislative days (6 months) as a Senator in the service of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria via a letter dated 30th March, 2017 for expressing as a matter of privilege the insinuations/allegations made online and National Newspapers that the invitation of the Comptroller-General of Customs was informed by seizure of the Bullet Proof SUV vehicle belonging to the Senate Presisent purportedly cleared with fake National Assembly documents and thd alleged First Degree saga of Senator Dino Melaye is a violation of his fundamental right to fair hearing and freedom of expression as guaranteed by sections 36 and 39 of the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 7(1) and 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“A declaration that the suspension of the plaintiff for 90 legislative days (6 months) from the service of the Senate as a Senator in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 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.

“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.

As well as, “An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances (howsoever called) forthwith”.

Whereas Justice Quadri granted all the reliefs except Ndume’s prayer for N500m damages, he said he could not also delve into issue bordering on the allegation that the Senate summoned Customs boss to appear before it, owing to seizure of Saraki’s exotic vehicles.

According to the Judge, “Questions 2, 3 and 4,  are hereby resolved in favour of the plaintiff while question 1 is not determined because I did not consider the issue of breach of Section 39 as I found doing so unnecessary in the circumstances. Consequently, reliefs 2, 3 and 4 are granted .

“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, relief No 5 on the issue of damages 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 rule by extension the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria.

“In this view I will make no order as to cost”, the Judge added.

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