Court nullifies suspension of Nigerian senator

Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki

Omo-Agege, who is the federal lawmaker representing Delta Central in the Senate, was recently suspended for 90 legislative days by the upper chamber of the National Assembly, for speaking against the Senate's bid to re-order the sequence of the 2019 general elections.

Omo-Agege had accused the Senate of targetting President Muhammadu Buhari with the Electoral Act Amendment, especially that aspect that deals with modification of election sequence.

In his ruling today, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba nullified Senate's suspension of the lawmaker, saying the basis for the suspension was illegal.

Justice Dimgba said the law does not exclude the Senate from protecting its dignity and decorum, nor did the law remove the Senate powers to discipline erring member.

The judge said while the Senate has the powers to sanction its erring members to protect its integrity, he added that no institution or authority has the powers to strip any citizen of his right of access to the court.

The news outlet reports further that the judge claimed that based on the wordings of the report of the Senate's Ethics and Privileges Committee which recommended Omo-Agege's suspension, the senator was punished for filing a suit against the Senate after apologising to the legislative house over the allegation leveled against him.

Justice Dimgba held that the decision of the Senate to suspend Omo-Agege for instituting the suit was a clear breach of Section 4 (8) and 6 (6b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

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"This court is minded to say that the reason for the suspension of the plaintiff by the 1st and 2nd defendants was unconstitutional", he court held.

Although the court refused to grant any of the seven prayers sought by the senator, it held that the suspension could not hold on grounds of the "violence" it did the constitution.

He said the Senate is only empowered to suspend an earring member for 14 days and 1 legislative day.

The committee went ahead to recommend a 181-day suspension which was later reduced to 90 by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

The Senate the Senate and the Senate President have promptly filed a Notice of Appeal and a Motion for Stay of Execution of the same Judgement on the 10th of May, 2018. According to the judge, although the plaintiff, as a senator, is not prohibited from holding a contrary view from his colleagues, the right to freedom of expression is not absolute.

Following his suspension, Mr Omo-Agege allegedly led thugs to invade the Senate during plenary and still its mace.

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