By Nuel Suji – The Senate on Wednesday suspended former leader Muhammed Ali Ndume for six months for what it termed his failure to make due diligence before demanding the probe of allegations against Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Kogi senator, Dino Melaye.
Ndume had last week raised a point of order requesting the senate to look into allegations N298 million SUV Vehicle purportedly belonging to Saraki which was seized by the Customs and allegation of certificate forgery against Melaye.
The senate Ethics Committee that investigated the matter had cleared both Saraki and Melaye on the allegations.
However, the Committee said on Wednesday it found Ndume guilty of not “making due diligence” before filing the petition against Senate President and Senator Melaye.
The former Leader denied the allegation when he appeared before Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
According to the report presented before the senate, Ndume’s suspension was based on the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions considered by the senators on plenary Wednesday.
Presenting the report before the federal lawmakers, the chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu exonerated the Senate President for importation of SUV Range Rovers bullet proof jeep, claiming that the story was cooked up to embarrass the Senate President, the senate and by extension National Assembly.
The chairman added that Ndume did not conduct “due diligence” before he tabled the matter before the senate for consideration.
Anyanwu concluded that the attitude of Ndume showed that he could not be said to be a patriotic representative of the senate, and should be penalized to serve as deterrent to other senators.
Reading the reports to the senate, Anyanwu said, “That the name of the Senate President, Senator Dr. Bukola Saraki was not mentioned anywhere in the Bill of lading or any document whatsoever connected with the importation or purchase of the SUV Range Rover vehicle;
“That he did not import any SUV Range Rover as corroborated by all respondents;
“That this story was cooked up with intent to embarrass the Senate President, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly;
“That the complainant did not conduct due diligence before bringing the matter to the floor of the Senate;
“That as a former Senate Leader and a ranking Senator, he was expected to have weighed the consequences, of the allegation, carefully investigated it before presenting it;
“That Senator Dino Melaye obtained a first degree in Geography from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; and
“That having failed to cross-check facts before presentation at plenary, he could not be said to be a patriotic representative of the Senate, and should be penalized to serve as deterrent to
Others,” he argued.
Adding that “after due consideration of the matter as revealed by different parties to the case, the Committee recommends as follows:
“That the Senate do suspend Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute at this time of our National life when caution, patriotism, careful consideration and due diligence should be our watchwords. ‘
“The suspension is with effect from today (28th March, 2017) to last for 6 months,” Anyanwu further stated.
Supporting the report, Jubrin Barau, a Kano senator blamed the former leader for bringing such report to the attention of the Senate without due diligence, adding that a senator of Ndume repute was not supposed to come to the chamber with such report without carrying due diligence.
But two Senators pleaded for a lesser punishment.
Abubakar Yusuf said indeed 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 he noted were his allies in the struggle to win the senate leadership at the expense of the All Progressives Congress backed Ahmed Lawan.
Similarly, Matthew Urhoghide from Delta, moved for six-month suspension, instead of one year.
Urhoghide’s position eventually became the resolution of the senate.
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.
Last Tuesday, Ndume asked the senate to investigate allegations that senate was acting in vengeance against the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, because the agency had seized a vehicle of Saraki.
He also asked the senate to investigate the allegation of certificate forgery against Melaye.
The committee that was given one month to carry out its assignment, however, presented the report of its investigation on Wednesday.
The upper legislative chamber and Customs CG have been locked in a battle since the Customs announced that it would commence collection of duty on old cars.