Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Friday declared the suspension of Senator Mohamed Ali Ndume as illegal, Unlawful and unconstitutional and consequently set aside the said suspension by the Senate.
The court, in addition ordered the Senate President and the Senate to immediately pay Senator Ndume his outstanding salaries and allowances.
Justice Babatunde Quadri, gave the order in a judgment delivered on a suit brought by Ndume challenging his suspension from the upper legislature.
Senator Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial district at the National Assembly had dragged the upper legislature to court over suspension from the Senate.
Defendants in the suit were the President of the Senate; the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions).
The Senate, following a recommendation by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, had in a letter dated 30th March, 2017 suspended Ndume, “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and institutions of the Senate to unbearable dispute”
But delivering judgment in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/551/2017, Justice Quadri however set aside the suspension for being illegal, Unlawful and unconstitutional.
He said, “Based on this, 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 first and second defendants are hereby directed to pay the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances forthwith,” he said.
The judge however, refused to grant relief five of the plaintiff, which borders on alleged damages suffered as a result of the suspension.
“However, relief number 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”, he said.
The relief sought by the plaintiff are: 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 President purportedly cleared with fake National Assembly documents and the 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.
“An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the plaintiff his outstanding salaries and allowances (howsoever called) forthwith.”
The suit was supported by a 31 – paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Senator Ndume, where he, averred “That on March 21, 2017, 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 Sahara Reporters and Daily Post and the print media Punch Newspaper respectively.