Ningi Threatens To Drag Akpabio Before NBA, Demands Reinstatement

The lawmaker representing Bauchi Central, Ahmed Ningi, has formally contested his suspension from the Senate, threatening to take legal action if the decision is not reversed within seven days.

Ningi, through his legal counsel, Femi Falana (SAN), communicated his stance to the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, highlighting concerns over the legality of the suspension process.

The Senate had on March 12 imposed a three-month suspension on Ningi following his public assertion that the 2024 budget had been inflated by N3.7 trillion.

Ningi alleged a discrepancy between the N25 trillion budget approved by the National Assembly and the N28.7 trillion purportedly being implemented by the Presidency, a claim that led to his suspension for purportedly tarnishing the Senate’s reputation.

The controversy reached a peak during a Senate session during which Ningi was asked to substantiate his allegations. Following this, he was suspended, relinquished his role as Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, and was seen leaving the Red Chambers defiantly.

Two weeks into his suspension, Ningi and his lawyer Falana are challenging the validity of the Senate’s action, suggesting procedural flaws and asserting the senator’s readiness to escalate the matter to the Federal High Court if necessary.

The letter to Akpabio, delivered to his office on Wednesday, marks the formal initiation of Ningi’s appeal against his suspension.

In the letter, Falana wrote, “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 of the Federal Government in the exercise of his fundamental right to 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.”

Falana, in the letter, said the Senate President acted as the accuser, prosecutor, and judge in the case, which was in utter violation of the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

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Falana argued that in addition to violating Ningi’s fundamental right to a fair hearing, the Senate also violated the people of the Bauchi Central Senatorial District’s right to representation in the Senate for three months.

He said, “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 budget padding, corruption or abuse of office.

Specifically, the court declared the suspension of the affected legislators illegal and unconstitutional.

“As a senior lawyer, you (Akpabio) 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 and confiscate his salaries and allowances.

“In view of 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 seven days upon receipt of this letter, we shall not hesitate to pray 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.”

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