The Nigerian Senate on Thursday, April 12, 2018, suspended Delta Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege for ninety legislative days. The lawmaker was part of those who opposed the
The bill seeks among other things, to reorder the timetable of elections.
The decision of the Senate was sequel to recommendations by the committee on ethics and privileges.
Omo-Agege alongside nine other Senators had staged a walkout after the Senate passed the bill.
The lawmakers had claimed that the electoral amendment bill was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhariand the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Senator Dino Melaye then petitioned the Senate to investigate the claims of the those protesting the bill. The matter was referred to the Senate committee on ethics and privileges.
Omo-Agege instituted legal actions against the Senate. This was after the lawmaker apologized, at plenary, for his actions.
Presenting the recommendations of the committee, the chairman, Senator Sam Anyanwu, described Omo-Agege’s statement as malicious, unfounded and aimed at smearing the institution of the senate.
The committee recommended that Omo-Agege be suspended for 181-legislative days for his actions.
“The statement of Ovie Omo-Agege was malicious, unfounded and aimed at smearing the institution of the senate,” Anyanwu announced.
He continued: “At the committee, he responded that he would not be able to make any presentation before the committee because he had taken the matter to court. That the matter be postponed until it is discharged by the court.
“After Senator Ovie had admitted guilt on the floor of the senate on the 21 of February by apologizing to the leadership and the entire senate. The committee was surprised that he changed his mind and took the senate President to court.
“As a forthright member of the committee, this action infuriated the committee who fired questions from all directions at him. When asked if the court action came before or after the matter was referred to the committee, he kept mute.
“After his apology, he and Senator Abdullahi Adamu published an advert on Vanguard Newspaper with the heading, ‘Parliamentary support group in Senate for President Muhammadu Buhari’ suggesting that the Senate was biased.
“The committee is of the opinion that the action by Senator Ovie going to court after apologizing to the senate was unacceptable especially as an experienced lawyer and a member of the committee and is conversant with the modus operandi therefore must be punished to serve as a deterrent to others who might contemplate to take the senate to court over its internal matters.
“The senate immediately disengages Ovie Omo-Agege for 181 legislative days to serve as a deterrent to other senators who might contemplate taking the senate to court over its internal matters,” he declared.
In a swift reaction, Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan urged his colleagues to pardon Omo-Agage for his action.
Lawan further called on the lawmaker to withdraw the legal action instituted against the Senate.
Other lawmakers spoke in the same line.
But, in his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki pleaded that his suspension be reduced to ninety legislative days.
Saraki also recommended a termination of groups within the Senate and a withdrawal of the case instituted against the red chamber in court.
“Distinguished Colleagues, a number of points have been raised. One borders on the issue of preserving the integrity of this institution. To me, that is what I think is the most important thing for us,” Saraki said.
“Second, is where we take actions that are not sincere. I think in this chamber, if we want to talk about who has the right to say he is Chairman of a Parliamentary Support Group for Mr. President both by action and by what we have done, I think that I have the right to lead that — more than anyone else here.
“Those of us that understand politics, understand that because of our own peculiar interest, sometimes some people decide to act like they are holier than thou or more committed — at the expense of others. This is not something that we should tolerate, and I believe that in an institution like this we must show discipline, but at the same time we must also show compassion.
“Distinguished Colleagues, there must be discipline. We must show that such groups must be suspended and the case in court must be withdrawn.
“If I can make recommendations from this chair, I would say that this issue before us, maybe we should reduce the number of days by half but with an understanding that we can revisit and look at this issue. We must send out a strong message. There are some people who are fanatics and such actions will expose a lot of people and allies.
“The senator involved, Senator Agege should withdraw the case, the support group should be disbanded and out of compassion, we amend the recommendation of the committee to 90 days and we move forward.
“Distinguished Colleagues I hope we will not have to come to these sort of situations again at this point in this democratic process. We can cue on this and move forward,” he added.
The matter was adopted after it was put to a voice vote by the Senate President.