The Senate yesterday gave a six-month suspension on previous Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, over what it portrayed as his inclination for bringing the Red Chamber as an establishment and his colleagues to deplorable disgrace.
This is the second time, the hammer of the upper chamber has fallen on the legislator from Borno south for insisting that charges of degree certification forgery against Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi west) and importing of a bullet proof range rover jeep with fake documents involving Senate President Bukola Saraki should be investigated.
The first time was when he was removed as the Senate Leader by the All Progressives Congress (APC) cabal in the Red Chamber, a development he claimed was as a result of his insistence that the Senate did not follow the proper procedure before dismissing the selection of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ndume had told State House correspondents that going by Senate standard procedures and practice, Magu had not been rejected because there was no confirmation hearing for the nominee to defend claims made against him.
The Senate said yesyerday’s suspension of Ndume will serve as deterrence to those who are fond of raising allegations without due diligence, caution and patriotic zeal thereby bringing lawmakers and the Senate as an institution to disrepute.
He was suspended for six months with effect from yesterday till September 28, instead of one year originally recommended by the committee, which is contrary to Senate Rules that prescribe 14 legislative days of suspension for a senator with serious offence.
Rule 67(4) states that “when a senator is named by the President of the senate, if the offence is a minor one, the President of the Senate may order the Senator to withdraw for the rest of the Legislative Day, but if the matter appears to the President of the senate to be of a more serious nature, the President of the senate shall put the question on motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, that such suspension being for any time stated in the motion not exceeding 14 legislative days”.
But Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba south) reminded the senate that the suspension of Ndume will run contrary to wishes and aspirations of the people of Borno south senatorial district who elected him.
“Whether he is of good or bad behaviour has nothing to do with his representation of his people in the Senate. Borno south people will not forgive the Senate if it goes ahead to suspend their only representative in the Senate. Moreover, he is a first offender, as he has not been found wanting in this chamber in the past”.
Yusuf who acknowledged, however, that Ndume had done “a wrong” to Messrs. Melaye and Saraki suggested that the former Senate Leader be suspended from committee activities, not plenaries, and that he should be asked to apologise to the duo who were his allies in the struggle to win the Senate leadership at the expense of Senator Ahmed Lawan who was backed by the All Progressives Congress.
Not satisfied with Yusuf’s explanation, the upper chamber insisted that Ndume failed to conduct due diligence by bringing the matter to the floor of the senate, adding that as a former Senate Leader and a ranking Senator, he was expected to have weighed the consequences of the allegation and carefully investigate it before presenting it.
Chairman of the ethics and privileges committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, while reading the recommendations of his committee before the plenary said, “That having failed to cross-check facts before presentation at plenary, he could not be said to be a patriotic representative of the senate, and should be penalized to serve as deterrent to others”.
‘’That the Senate do suspend Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute at this time of our National life when caution, patriotism, careful consideration and due diligence should be our watchwords”.
Anyanwu whose committee convened investigative hearing on the matter on Monday cleared Melaye of any breach, saying Melaye obtained a first degree in Geography from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“That the name of the Senate President, Senator Dr. Bukola Saraki was not mentioned anywhere in the Bill of lading or any document whatsoever connected with the importation or purchase of the SUV Range Rover vehicle”, he submitted.
During the investigative hearing, Ndume had informed the committee that he did not make allegations or raise a petition against the duo of Melaye and Saraki but only raised the issues, having read them in the newspaper. He said the matters had made the Senate subject of public ridicule, thereby calling for probe.
Clearing Saraki and Melaye of any wrongdoing in the matters, Anyanwu said the car importer and dealer confirmed that Saraki or the Senate was not involved in the importation of the vehicle in 2015 and that the allegation against the senate president was made up.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi justified Ndume’s suspension on the floor of the senate on the ground that the former senate leader was not a first offender.
He said, “Mr President, I am supporting this but I want to give reasons. I want to make this point that Senator Ndume is not just a first offender. We took a decision on the secretary to the federal government, he went outside and maligned the senate.
“We took the first decision when we came here in our executive session and I want the records to be put. When the report of the DSS was read, he rose here and started begging all of us that please we should send Magu back to the president for president to take a decision on him.
“He was begging everybody here and out of respect for him as Leader at that time, this senate obliged him. After that, he went out to malign the senate but he did not tell the public that he was the person who begged us, and he even went further and said we should invite him and tell him why we cannot. He is moving as a saint”.
Against the recommendation of the committee that Ndume should go on one year suspension, Senator Matthew Urhoghide moved for six-month suspension, which eventually became the resolution of the Senate.
Saraki who presided over Wednesday’s plenary yielded the seat to Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, when the proceedings progressed to the consideration of the probe committee’s report.