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Ningi demands reinstatement, threatens legal action against Senate




Ahmed Ningi, the senator representing Bauchi Central in the Senate, has written to Senate President Godswill Akpabio, seeking that his suspension be lifted.

Ningi, who contacted Akpabio through his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), stated that if his suspension was not restored within the next seven days, he would take the Senate to the Federal High Court.

On March 12, the Senate suspended Ningi for three months after he claimed that the 2024 budget was padded by N3.7 trillion.

Ningi said in a media interview that the budget passed by the National Assembly for the fiscal year 2024 was N25 trillion, while the one being implemented by the Presidency was N28.7 trillion.

However, during the session on March 12, the Senate called on the Bauchi senator to refute the claim, after which he was slapped with a three-month ban for tarnishing the Red Chamber’s image over what the senators determined was an unjustified allegation.

Following the announcement of the suspension, Ningi gathered his belongings and went out of the Red Chambers, waving to his colleagues.

He then resigned as Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, and All Progressives Congress Senator Abdulaziz Yar’Adua, who represents Katsina Central, took over.

However, two weeks after his suspension, Ningi, through his lawyer, Falana, claimed that the suspension procedure was flawed.

His letter was delivered to the Senate President’s office on Wednesday.

In the letter, Falana wrote: “On March 9, 2024, our client granted an interview to the BBC Hausa Service on the 2024 Appropriation Act.

‘”He expressed his views on the budget of the Federal Government in the exercise of his fundamental right to freedom of speech guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“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.”

Falana stated in the letter that the Senate President acted as the accuser, prosecutor, and judge in the case, which was a clear violation of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.”

Falana stated that the Senate violated Ningi’s fundamental right to a fair hearing while also infringing the Bauchi Central Senatorial District’s right to three months of Senate representation.

“This is a breach of Section 111 of the Constitution and Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act,” the SAN said.

“As you are no doubt aware, the Federal High Court had struck down the suspension of some members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who had accused the leadership of both houses of budget padding, corruption, or abuse of office.

“Specifically, the court declared the suspension of the affected legislators illegal and unconstitutional.

“As a senior lawyer, you (Akpabio) 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 that you ensure that the said suspension is lifted forthwith.

“However, if you fail to accede to our request within 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 judgements of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal with disdain.”