Chris Steven, Abuja
The Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights ,CASER has condemned the suspension of Senator Ali Ndume for six months by the Upper Chamber.
The rights group said it is troubling that for asking his colleagues in the Senate to investigate a matter which he read about in the dailies, Senator Ndume representing Borno South Senatorial District has been punished with a suspension from participating in law making for six months.
Executive Director of the organisation Frank Tietie said on Thursday in Abuja that the Senate’s action violates the provisions of Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the right to hold an opinion and to express same.
“It amounts to crass intolerance on the part of majority of Nigerian senators whose many governmental sins and political foibles have been many times overlooked by Nigerians, yet the same senators have chosen come down hard on one of their own for exercising his right to hold an opinion to which he is entitled under the Constitution to so freely express.
“CASER therefore posits that the action of the Nigerian Senators is a misapplication of Section 21 of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act. The use of suspension as a means of punishing a perceived erring legislative house member is a very serious matter since it touches on the right of a citizen in a participative democracy to be represented in governance through the National Assembly.
The senators ought to have given more consideration to the interest of the people of Borno South by choosing to simply express their reservations on the matter rather than moving to deprive the people of their right to be represented by suspending the senator representing a people of a senatorial district,” Tietie said.
He said the organisation will legally challenge the Senate leadership if it fails within 48 hours to rescind the suspension of Senator Ndume.
Tietie said the organisation mindful that for the reason of political correctness, Ndume may have chosen to leave his fate in the hands of his fellow senators for the next six months but that is of immaterial consideration as the resolve by CASER to legally challenge the Senate arises from the need to check the rising arrogance and intolerance among Senators, to the extent a people’s Representatives has been suspended in breach of his fundamental right to free speak his mind and the right of a people to be represented in the National Assembly.
He said “CASER is worried that the Nigerian Senate is becoming a fiefdom with an unwritten law that overly exalts loyalty to its president, Dr Bukola Saraki, above the right of any Senator or ordinary Nigerian citizen. The basic rights of Nigerian citizens should be respected at all levels of social strata.”