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Budget padding: Ningi to return to Senate in few days – Sen. President

“I believe that in a few days, he will join us

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Abdul Ningi, the suspended senator representing the Bauchi Central senatorial district, has received a reprieve as the Upper Chamber prepares to review his three-month suspension.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, gave the hint in Abuja while fielding questions from reporters on arrival from the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The leader of the 10th Assembly stated that he is not aware of Sen. Ningi’s letter requesting the lifting of his suspension.

Akpabio, however, assured that “in a few days, he will join” the Senate.

Ningi was suspended for three months after about three hours of debate over his interview, where he alleged that the budget passed by the National Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year is N25 trillion while the one being implemented by the Presidency is N28.7 trillion.

Just about 24 hours ago, Ningi’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) had sent a letter to Akpabio giving him seven days to recall him or face legal action.

Akpabio said that though he has not seen the said letter, it is already receiving due attention, adding that the matter would be resolved like a “family affair” and hopefully Ningi would return to take his seat soon.

“It is a parliamentary decision. I have not seen the letter yet. But Senator Ningi is one of us. I mean, what is suspension?

“I believe that in a few days, he will join us. So, there is no problem. It would be resolved amicably. The Senate is a family,” Akpabio said.

Persecondnews recalls that on Thursday, Ningi, communicated with Akpabio through his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), noting that if his suspension was not lifted in the next seven days, he would drag the Senate before the Federal High Court.

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.

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

“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 judgments of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal with disdain.”

 

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