Tue. May 28th, 2024

By Jimmy Fatunbi

The Senate President Senator Godswill Akpabio has written legal luminary, Femi Falana SAN, on his petition over the suspension of the Senator representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Abdul Ningi.

Akpabio, through his counsel Kalu Uche SAN in a reply addressed to Falana and Falana Chambers queried why Ningi’s lawyers accused him of sole culpability in the suspension of the federal lawmaker.

The Senate President wondered why the decision of the Upper Legislative Chamber to suspend one of its members, would be termed as a unilateral decision, stressing that as the Presiding Officer, his roles are clear to the running of the legal mandate of the Senate.

Akpabio also demanded court pronouncements on the unconstitutionality of suspending members of legislative houses, which Ningi’s lawyer alluded to in the said petition.

He maintained that Ningi’s suspension was done in accordance with the Senate’s rule book, which is legal and constitutionally recognised.

The Senate President said, “We have carefully read through your analysis of the facts and circumstances leading to your client’s suspension from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and, are unable to find reason in your verdict of our client’s sole culpability in the said suspension. We therefore plead non est factum for our client.

“The decision and resolution to suspend Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi was that of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria sitting in plenary and not that of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON. In addition to the above and contrary to the contents of your letter under reference, our client was at no time your client’s accuser, prosecutor and judge.

“Our client’s role at the session of the Senate that led to your client’s suspension was and remains the statutory role of a Legislative House Presiding Officer, which role equally includes pronouncing the majority decision of the Legislative House at the end of debate and voting.

“Permit us to mention your attempt at drawing our client’s attention to legal authorities and pronouncements of our Courts of record on the unconstitutionality of suspending members of Legislative Houses, which attempt we dare say was unhelpful, due to your failure or refusal to make available the relevant particulars of the said Court decisions in your letter. You may wish to provide these legal authorities which you have alluded to, bearing in mind that every decision of a Court emanates from its peculiar facts, circumstances and extant Laws.

“In as much as it may not be necessary to canvass herein all the remedies available to our client, in response to your threats of a Court action and Petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), it is important we mention that legislative proceedings are guided by Rules and that certain privileges enure to legislators for their actions in the course of legislative sessions.

“Furthermore, our client though a lawyer by profession does not sit and preside over the sessions of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a lawyer, or in the discharge of his services as a legal practitioner,” the reply stated further.

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