Another drama is set to roll between the Nigeria’s legislature and the judiciary just as an Abuja Federal High Court nullified the suspension by the Senate of Senator Ovie Omo -Agege.
The lawmaker represents Delta Central at the upper legislative chamber. He’s suspended over his decision to challenge the authority of the chamber, though there was more to it.
The Senate had, on April 13, suspended the senator for 90 legislative days over his comment that the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 seeking the re- ordering of the general elections was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba described the senate’s action as unconstitutional .
The Justice held on Thursday that while the National Assembly had the power to discipline its erring members , the premise on which Omo -Agege ’ s suspension was anchored was illegal.
Going by the wording of the report of the Senate ’s Ethics and Privileges Committee which recommended Omo -Agege ’s suspension, the judge pointed out that Omo-Agege was punished for filing a suit against the Senate after apologising to the legislative house over the allegation leveled against him.
“Access to court is a fundamental right in the Constitution, which cannot be taken away by force or intimidation from any organ” ruled the judge.
He added that the senate by the power conferred on it could only suspend an erring member for only a period of 14 days, as prescribed in the Senate rules.
He also ruled that the principle of natural justice was breached by the Senate’s Ethics and Privileges Committee by allowing Senator Dino Melaye, who was the complainant, to participate in the committee’s sitting that considered the issue and also allowed him to sign the committee’ s report .
On the aforementioned ground, the judge therefore nullified Omo -Agege’s suspension “ with immediate effect.”
He also ruled that the senator be paid all his allowances and salaries for the period he was illegally suspended.
Will Nigerian Senate obey the court Order?
The suspension of Omo-Agege by the Senate Committee on Ethics , Privileges and Public Petitions, having been referred by the senate and President of the Senate, was a calculated attempt to send a strong signal to the executive arm, which it (senate) has seen as its political rival.
The senator’s suspension, according to analysts, means he will be irrelevant till the end of the 8th legislative seatings.
Politically, it also means that Delta Central Senatorial District has no representation in the Senate.
That has generated diverse views from constitutional lawyers. While some said the Senate has the absolute power to punish any of its erring member, others opined that YES the Senate could indeed punish any of its member “but not up to 90-day suspension.”
From the above infomediang.com can draw two major reasons why the Senate may not obey the order of the court.
1) The ongoing trial and prosecution of a senator from Kogi West, Dino Melaye, by the police is seen as executive punishment of Melaye for some of his recent positions against Aso Villa.
The police said Melaye has case to answer over his (Melaye) indictment in some cases of political violence in Kogi State.
Up till now, Melaye is still in the custody of the police, though at the National Hospital, Abuja, for treatment he sustained when he jumped out of police moving vehicle, while being taken to Lokoja to face prosecution.
The Senate had called on the presidency to prevail on the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris on how his men are treating the senator but to no avail.
The IGP has even failed to honour three different invitations of the Federal Lawmakers.
2) Omo-Agege has been seen as President Muhammadu Buhari’s godson within the floor of the chamber, while the relationship between the legislators and Aso Villa hasn’t been cordial lately.
The three arms-legislative, executive, and the judiciary- may resort to independent constitutional powers within their terrain.
Several court orders have been jettisoned by the executive in the past, that isnt strange in Nigeria and nothing happened thereafter.
It may be the time for the lawmakers to flaunt the order of the judiciary (court), which could lead to controversy between both of them.
But who will settle the differences between them if it finally happened?
infomediang.com will keep you updated as the country prepares for her General Elections coming up in 2019
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