15 November 2017

Nigeria: Why I Challenged My Suspension in Court - Ndume

Photo: The Guardian
Ali Ndume.

A former Majority Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, has opened up on why he headed to court to seek judicial ruling on his suspension.

Mr. Ndume, while addressing journalists at the National Assembly after his resumption on Wednesday, said his action was beyond a personal struggle but a fight for democracy.

Following recommendations by the Ethics and Privileges Committee, the Senate on March 30 suspended Mr. Ndume for calling on the Senate to investigate public allegations of impropriety against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and another senator, Dino Melaye.

However in September, when the six months was deemed to have passed, the Senate issued a statement extending the suspension to November, on the excuse of discounting holidays and weekends.

A Federal High Court last week nullified the suspension, saying it was illegal. The court also ordered Mr. Ndume's immediate reinstatement and payment of all his entitlements for the period of the suspension.

"I really do not want you to feel that I'm taking this on anybody. No. This is a democracy and there are structures on ground to test our nascent democracy," Mr. Ndume said.

"I didn't go to court for my personal reason. I went to court to find out if what was done to me was right or wrong. The court decided that what was done to me was wrong but the Senate says it would appeal the judgment.

"Whatever I did is not personal and I am not taking it personally against anybody. If anybody thinks my action is personal, I live that to God who is the ultimate judge and we will all account for our deeds in the world after."

A happy Mr. Ndume, in his usual white traditional 'agbada' and cap, thanked Nigerians for the support shown him during the time of the suspension.

He also expressed grief on the death of a senator, Isiaka Adeleke, who he described as his 'landlord, and Yelwa, wife of a senator, Danjuma Goje.

"I want to use this opportunity to thank everybody and God. For over seven months, I was not here. Within this period a colleague of mine who sat right behind me died. Another colleague and friend of mine lost his wife. Also, two of my colleagues lost their seats.

"In the House of Representatives, two to three people died and one lost his seat. It could have been me because I am not better than any of them. So, I thank God.

"I am humbled by the sympathy and empathy that Nigerians have shown me within this period.

"I am a son of nobody who became somebody without knowing anybody. I thank God."

He informed the journalists of his intention to perform the lesser Hajj.

"After this address, I am heading straight to the airport to perform the lesser Hajj and Thank God."

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