Update on Court case for Senator Ndume suspension

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.

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