‘Senate to take position on Ningi’s letter’

The Senate will on resumption respond to Senator Abdul Ningi’s letter seeking a recall from his three-month suspension.
Committee on Media and Public Affairs Chairman, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, said last night that the Senate was still on Easter and Eid break.

The Senate on March 12 suspended Ningi after he accused the leadership of padding the 2024 budget by N3.7 trillion.

In a BBC Hausa Service interview, he claimed that the Presidency was operating two budgets, one approved by the National Assembly, and the other unknown to it.

Through his counsel Femi Falana (SAN), the suspended Senator wrote Senate President Godswill Akpabio asking to be recalled within seven days or he would take legal action.

He claimed his right to freedom of speech was violated.

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The letter reads in part: “Dissatisfied with the interview, you caused our client to be put on trial before the Senate on March 14, 2024 contrary to the provisions of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2018. This was in utter violation of the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

“As a senior lawyer, you ought to have drawn the attention of the members of the Senate to these decisions and several others where the High Courts of some states and the Court of Appeal have held that no parliament in Nigeria has the power to suspend or expel a legislator and confiscate his salaries and allowances.

“In view of the foregoing, you will agree with us that the suspension of Senator Ningi and the denial of his entitlements are illegal and unconstitutional in every material particular.

“We are compelled to request you to ensure that the said suspension is lifted forthwith.

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“However, if you fail to accede to our request seven days upon receipt of this letter, we shall not hesitate to pray to the Federal High Court for the reinstatement of our client.

“We shall equally report you to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for treating the judgments of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal with disdain.”

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Akpabio told reporters when he returned from the 148th meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva that Ningi’s issue would be resolved when the Senate resumes on April 16.

“It is a parliamentary decision. I have not seen the letter yet. But Senator Ningi is one of us. I believe that in a few days, he will join us.

“There is no problem. It would be resolved amicably. The Senate is a family,” Akpabio had said.

Yesterday, Adaramodu said: “The Senate is on Easter and Eid break. When we resume, we will see the content of the letter.

“We cannot respond to a letter we have not seen. The most important thing is that it is not a matter between Ningi and Akpabio.

“It is a matter between 108 Senators and Ningi. The action was taken by all the Senators in an open session.

“So, even if a letter is addressed to the Senate President, it has to be brought to the Senate. When we resume, when we see it, we will take it up on its merit.”

On the seven-day ultimatum given by Ningi, Adaramodu said: “Now that we are on break, will there be any official transaction on any correspondence?

“The break is official, there couldn’t have been any transaction during the period.”

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