Ahmed Ningi, the senator representing Bauchi Central in the Senate, has written the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio to demand immediate reinstatement.

Ningi stated this in a letter through his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN)

He noted that if his suspension was not lifted in the next seven days he would drag the Senate before the Federal High Court.

It will be recalled that the Senate, on March 12, sent Ningi on three months suspension over his claim that the 2024 budget was padded to the tune of N3.7tn.

Ningi, in a media interview, claimed that while the budget passed by the National Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year was N25tn, the one being executed by the Presidency was N28.7tn.

However, at the plenary on March 12, the Senate took the Bauchi senator on to defend the allegation, at the end of which he was slammed with a three-month suspension for damaging the image of the Red Chamber over what senators decided was an unfounded allegation.

Following the pronouncement of the suspension, Ningi packed his things and walked out of the Red Chambers, waving to his colleagues.

He subsequently stepped down from his position as the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum and was replaced by the All Progressives Congress Senator Abdulaziz Yar’Adua representing  Katsina Central.

However, two weeks after his suspension, Ningi, through his lawyer, Falana contended that the process of his suspension was faulty.

His letter to the Senate President was received at the Senate President’s office on Wednesday.

In the letter, Falana wrote: “On March 9, 2024, our client granted an interview to the BBC Hausa Service on the 2024 Appropriation Act. He expressed his views on the budget of the Federal Government in the exercise of his fundamental right to freedom of speech guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“Dissatisfied with the interview, you caused our client to be put on trial before the Senate on March 14, 2024 contrary to the provisions of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2018.”

Falana, in the letter, said the Senate President acted as the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the case, saying this was in utter violation of the provisions of Section 36 of the  1999 Constitution.”

Falana argued that apart from violating Ningi’s fundamental right to a fair hearing, the Senate also violated the right of the people of the Bauchi Central Senatorial District to representation in the Senate for three months.

“This is a breach of Section 111 of the Constitution and Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act,” the SAN said.

“As you are no doubt aware, the Federal High Court had struck down the suspension of some members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who had accused the leadership of both houses of budget padding, corruption or abuse of office.

“Specifically, the court declared the suspension of the affected legislators illegal and unconstitutional.

“As a senior lawyer, you (Akpabio) ought to have drawn the attention of the members of the Senate to these decisions and several others where the high courts of some states and the Court of Appeal have held that no parliament in Nigeria has the power to suspend or expel a legislator and confiscate his salaries and allowances.

“In view of the foregoing, you will agree with us that the suspension of Senator Ningi and the denial of his entitlements are illegal and unconstitutional in every material particular.

“We are compelled to request you to ensure that the said suspension is lifted forthwith.

“However, if you fail to accede to our request seven days upon receipt of this letter, we shall not hesitate to pray the Federal High Court for the reinstatement of our client. We shall equally report you to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for treating the judgments of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal with disdain.”