Politics

Falana Writes Senate President, Seeks Reversal Of Sen Ningi’s Suspension

 

The law firm of Falana & Falana has written to the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to request the lifting of the suspension of its client, Senator Abdul Ningi.

In the letter dated March 25th and signed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, the lawyer noted that Ningi’s trial before the lawmakers on March 14 was contrary to the provisions of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2018, and violated their client’s fundamental right to a fair hearing.

Falana also said that the Senate by its actions violated the right of the entire people of the Bauchi Central Senatorial District to representation in the Senate for three months, a situation which is considered a breach of section 111 of the Constitution and Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.

The senior advocate wondered why the senate president did not draw the attention of the lawmakers to a recent decision of the court which held that no parliament in Nigeria has the power to suspend or expel a legislator.

Falana demanded that Ningi’s suspension be lifted within 7 days, failing which the matter will be taken to court for the reinstatement of his client as well as a report to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for treating the judgments of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal with disdain.

 

See the full letter below:

March 25, 2024

Senator Godswill Akpabio,

The Senate President,

Senate Building,

National Assembly Complex,

Three Arms Zone,

Abuja, FCT.

REQUEST TO LIFT THE SUSPENSION OF SENATOR ABDUL AHMED NINGI

We are Solicitors to Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi representing the Bauchi Central Senatorial District in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter referred to as “our client”) on whose behalf we write this letter.

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 in exercise of his fundamental right of 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.

Even though it was alleged that you were indicted by our client in the interview, you presided over the proceedings of the Senate. It is on record that you were the accuser, the prosecutor and the Judge in your own case in utter violation of the provisions of section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

At the end of the trial, you pronounced our client guilty and declared

“That the Senate do suspend Senator Abdul Nigin (Bauchi North) for three (3) months and he should forfeit all his entitlements and be disallowed from the precincts of the National Assembly Complex during the period of the suspension. He should also apologise to the Senate in writing, thereafter the Senate can consider his remorse and recall him;”

Apart from violating our client’s fundamental right to fair hearing, the Senate violated the right of the entire people of the Bauchi Central Senatorial District to representation in the Senate for three months. 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 corruption or abuse of office. Specifically, the court declared the suspension of the affected legislators illegal and unconstitutional. As a senior lawyer, you 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.

Given 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 you to ensure that the said suspension is lifted forthwith. However, if you fail to accede to our request within seven days of the 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.

Yours Sincerely,

Femi Falana SAN.

Opeoluwani Akintayo

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Opeoluwani Akintayo

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