QUESTION: From Jibrin to Ndume, is national assembly out to cage outspoken members?
Perhaps Ndume didn’t know that another trouble was lurking around the corner when he uttered those words.
On Wednesday, the upper chamber of the national assembly slammed a six-month suspension on him over the role he played in the controversies that shook the senate recently.
Ndume was the one who demanded the investigation of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye, the lawmaker representing Kogi west senatorial district.
“In the PUNCH of today, page 16 and with your permission I will want to lay it and it says ‘Dino Melaye in first degree certificate scandal’ and it goes on and on,” he had said.
“I will therefore appeal to the senate to investigate and our colleagues will be cleared and this senate will stand as it suppose to.”
While Melaye was accused of forging his degree certificate, Saraki was said to be exacting vengeance on Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of customs, because the agency seized a sport utility vehicle (SUV) belonging to him.
The senate had summoned Ali to appear before it in uniform over a retroactive policy of customs. Ali honoured the invitation, but in civilian attire, and the senate considered that disrespectful. The last is yet to be heard of the cold war between the retired colonel and the lawmakers.
Saraki has since denied the allegation, with the car dealer absolving him of any blame.
Ibrahim Garba, vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), also certified that Melaye attended the school, and in the end, Ndume agreed that both men had been cleared.
“I am happy now that since I called for investigation through a motion, public abuses on the senate has reduced and those colleagues have been explaining and clarifying issues”, Ndume had said.
“I am also satisfied that the vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba has testified that Dino Melaye graduated from the school.
“As far as I am concerned, nobody will ridicule the senate on these matters anymore and since the day I raised the motion, I have restricted myself from comments in the media to allow the committee do their investigations.”
But two days after Ndume spoke in a manner suggesting that he had put the issue behind him, the senate wielded a big stick.
This is a reminder of the case of Abdulmumin Jibrin, lawmaker representing Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency of Kano state.
Jibrin had stirred what could be regarded as one of the biggest parliamentary scandals on the continent.
He accused the leadership of the house of representatives of padding the 2016 budget. Though the house was on a two-month recess as of the time he made allegations, Jibrin went as far as sending petitions to anti-graft agencies.
In the end, the house ethics committee said it found him guilty of misconduct and recommended his suspension.
On September 28, the house slammed a 180-day suspension on Jibrin, who subsequently challenged the action in court.
Ndume joined Jibrin on Wednesday, but there are many unanswered questions; why did both men speak out after losing plum positions? Jibrin was chairman of the appropriation committee in the house of reps, while Ndume was until January the majority leader of the senate? Would they have been silent if things had been going their way?
Looking at it the other way round, are national assembly leaders witch-hunting those who oppose them, or trying to instill discipline? Is there a conspiracy against members who muster the courage to challenge the leaders? Isn’t this punitive action capable of discouraging lawmakers from speaking their minds? Is the senate right to suspend Ndume? Let’s have your thoughts.
What’s your take on the suspension of Ndume?
- It’s unfair (47%, 103 Votes)
- Senate should devote attention to other pressing issues (34%, 75 Votes)
- He deserves it (18%, 40 Votes)
Total Voters: 218