Analysis of Senator Abdul Ningi’s Suspension from a Legal Perspective

The recent suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi by the Senate House for a duration of three months has sparked debates surrounding its legality. Critics have cited the decision in BAUCHI STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY v. GUYABA (2017) LPELR-43295 (CA) to contest the suspension. However, it’s crucial to note that the provision of the Bauchi State House of Assembly Standing Orders 2003 (Rule 58) referenced in the above authority is not present in the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended), rendering the reliance on this authority for questioning the legality of Senator Abdul Ningi’s suspension potentially moot.

During the proceedings leading to his suspension, questions arose regarding the duration of the suspension. Some referred to a provision in the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) (Rule 67(4)), which imposes a maximum suspension period of 14 legislative days. However, this provision applies to misconducts committed within the Senate proceeding or a committee proceeding, as established in SENATOR OVIE OMO-AGEGE V. SENATE & 2 ORS IN SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/314/18. In that case, the court ruled that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege could not be suspended for a period exceeding 14 legislative days as the misconduct occurred within the Senate complex. In contrast, Senator Ningi’s alleged transgression took place during an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (Hausa Services) outside the Senate complex, making it distinct from the Omo-Agege case.

Regarding the legality of the suspension, Rule 67(12) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) affirms the Senate’s authority to proceed against any Senator according to a Senate resolution. Senator Ningi’s suspension was based on a resolution adopted by the Senate after approximately three hours of deliberation, during which he was given the opportunity to present his case in compliance with constitutional provisions.

The principle of checks and balances among the three arms of government, enshrined in the constitution, empowers the Senate to establish regulations for its governance. These regulations, binding on all members, ensure order and accountability within the Senate.

While the Senate possesses the authority to discipline its members for misconduct, such measures must adhere to the law and safeguard the rights of the Senators involved. The suspension of Senator Ningi is argued to be lawful and devoid of illegality, as the Senate is empowered to suspend a Senator through a resolution adopted by the Senate (Rule 67(12) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended)).

In summary, the Senate’s capacity to discipline its members is unquestionable, as it derives from the Constitution. All members of the Senate are bound by the Standing Orders, unless they conflict with constitutional provisions, in which case they are null and void.

It’s essential to clarify that this analysis does not assess the veracity or propriety of the allegations made against Senator Abdul Ningi.

Henry Kelechukwu Eni-Otu, Esq. Legal Practitioner and Lead Partner, Law Corridor, Abuja. Henrykceniotu@gmail.Com

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