Lawyers, civil society groups among others yesterday rose in defence of Senator Ali Ndume and told the Senate to rescind its decision of suspending him for six months.
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) said the suspension of Ndume (APC, Borno South), was the height of the serial illegality in the Senate and urged the senators to reverse “the illegal decision.”
Citing the unreported case of Dino Melaye and Others vs House of Representatives, Falana said in a statement yesterday that the Federal High Court had declared the indefinite suspension of the plaintiffs illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that a legislator could not be suspended for more than 14 days.
Also, Mr Taidi Jonathan, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Minna Branch, said yesterday that the Senate had gone beyond its authority on its decision to suspend Senator Ndume.
Jonathan told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna that: “The suspension of Sen. Ali Ndume is ultra vires under the powers of the legislature in the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to him, Section 6 (6) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution vests powers to impose any sanction or punishment in the Judiciary and to be exercised by courts of competent jurisdiction.”
Similarly, some residents of Borno have expressed shock over the development.
Malam Musa Walama, an Iron- Bender, said that the suspension was undemocratic.
“It is really a sad development that the Senate has decided to suspend him for standing by the truth. What kind of message are the senators trying to pass to the world?” he asked.
Malam Muhammad Asheikh, a security guard, also condemned the suspension, saying that Ndume was punished because of his openness on national issues.
Mrs Grace Musa, a bean cake seller, expressed optimism that Ndume will triumph against the Senate leadership in court.
The Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Frank Tietie, said yesterday in Abuja that the Senate’s action “amounts to crass intolerance on the part of majority of Nigerian senators, whose many sins and political foibles have been overlooked by Nigerians.”
He said the organisation will legally challenge the Senate leadership if it failed within 48 hours to rescind the suspension of Senator Ndume.