UPDATED: Why Senate suspended former leader Ali Ndume

Senator Ali Ndume

The Senate has suspended Ali Ndume, its former leader, who had asked for investigation of allegations of importing a bullet proof range rover with fake documents involving Senate President Bukola Saraki and that of perjury involving Dino Melaye.

The Senate reached the decision, Wednesday, after the resolution to uphold the recommendation of the committee on ethics and privileges chaired by Samuel Anyanwu.

He was suspended for six months, instead of one year originally recommended by the ethics committee.

Mr. Anyanwu, whose committee convened investigative hearing on the two matters on Monday, reported that Mr. Ndume failed to conduct proper investigation before making “the allegations”.

But during the investigative hearing, Mr. Ndume told the committee he did not make allegation or raise a petition against the duo of Mr. Melaye and Mr. Saraki but only raised the issues, having read them in the newspaper.

Last week, Mr. Ndume had said the matters had made the Senate subject of public ridicule, thereby calling for probe.

“When we see anything against another Senator, we must bring it to the floor of the Senate before making hurtful statement,” said Barau Jibrin in his contribution before the vote was taken.

Messrs Saraki and Melaye were cleared of any wrongdoing in the matters.

But the committee absolved Mr. Saraki of any culpability in respect of the car imported with fake documents and seized by the Nigeria Customs Service.

Mr. Anyanwu said the car importer and dealer confirmed Mr. Saraki or the Senate was not involved in the importation of the vehicle in 2015, and that the allegation against Mr. Saraki was made up.

On Mr. Melaye whose claim to an Ahmadu Bello University degree was questioned, Mr. Anyanwu said the Vice-Chancellor of the institution confirmed the Kogi West Senator graduated from ABU in 2000.

Mr. Anyanwu further reported that Mr. Melaye tendered his statement of result and National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate which he obtained in 2001, having started in 2000.

The committee therefore recommended that Mr. Ndume be suspended for one year, that is 181 legislative days.

But two Senators pleaded for a lesser punishment.

Abubakar Yusuf said Mr. Ndume had done “a wrong” to Messrs. Melaye and Saraki; and suggested that the former Senate Leader be suspended from committee activities, not plenaries, and that he should be asked to apologise to the accused who were his allies in the struggle to win the Senate leadership at the expense of Ahmed Lawan, backed by the All Progressives Congress.

Matthew Urhoghide moved for six-month suspension, instead of one year.

Mr. Urhoghide’s position eventually became the resolution of the Senate.

Mr. Saraki, who initially presided over Wednesday’s sitting, yielded the seat to Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu when the proceedings progressed to the consideration of the probe committee’s report.

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