The Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), an NGO, has given the Senate a 48-hour ultimatum to rescind the suspension of Sen.Ali Ndume (APC-Borno) or face legal action.
Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District, was on Wednesday suspended for a period of six months.
Frank Tietie, Executive Director of CASER told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday that the group frowned at the suspension of Ndume for six months.Tietie, who is also a lawyer, said that the basic rights of Nigerian citizens should be respected at all levels of social strata.
“CASER is troubled that for Ndume to ask his colleagues in the Senate to investigate a matter which he read about in the dailies can earn him a suspension.
“Ndume is being punished for participating in law making activities in the Senate for six months.
“This is a clear violation of Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the right to hold an opinion and to express same freely in Nigeria.
“It amounts to crass intolerance on the part of majority of the senators whose many governmental sins and political shortcomings have been many times overlooked by Nigerians.
“The same senators have chosen to come down hard on one of their own for exercising his right to hold an opinion to which he is entitled to freely express," he added.
Tietie said CASER, therefore, posited that the action of the Nigerian senators was a misapplication of Section 21 of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act.
He said the use of suspension as a means of punishing a perceived erring legislative member was a serious matter.
Tietie said that the senators ought to have given more consideration to the interest of the people of Borno South by choosing to simply express their reservations on the matter.
He said CASER had resolved to legally challenge the Nigerian Senate with its leadership if it fails within 48 hours to rescind the suspension of Ndume.
“CASER is worried that the Nigerian Senate is becoming a fiefdom with an unwritten law that overly exalts loyalty to its president, Dr Bukola Saraki, above the recognition of the right of a Senator or any other Nigerian, “he said.
NAN recalls that Ndume was suspended on the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions considered by the lawmakers at the Wednesday plenary session.
The Senate had asked its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Ndume’s allegation against Saraki for alleged importation of bullet-proof car with fake Customs duty certificate and Melaye for certificate forgery.
The resolution to launch the investigation followed a motion of privilege by Ndume who drew the attention of his colleagues to a publication that Saraki sanctioned the invitation of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) to appear in uniform because the service impounded his bullet-proof Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle.
On Melaye, Ndume referred the Senate to a publication by a national newspaper that Melaye did not graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Ndume told the Senate that an online platform claimed Melaye did not obtain a degree in Geography from ABU, Zaria.
The Borno South lawmaker, prayed the Senate to investigate the issues, noted that there was nothing untoward about investigating the Senate President.
The committee cleared Saraki.