Thousands of people from Borno South Senatorial District, on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly to protest against the suspension of Senator Ali Ndume by the Senate. Ndume represents Borno South in the Senate.
Similarly, hundreds of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the same senatorial district, also occupied the Unity Fountain Square in Abuja in protest against Ndume’s suspension. They vowed to stay put until their Senator is recalled to the Senate.
The protesters who converged on the gate as early as 9am, blocked the major access route, leading to the National Assembly complex.
Lawmakers and other legislative aides, resorted to another entrance gate, through the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF).
Ndume was last Wednesday, suspended by the Senate, following recommendations by its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu.
Ndume was suspended for allegedly failing to defend allegations he made against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki over the importation of N298 million Jeep into the country without payment of required Customs duty and Senator Dino Melaye over alleged first degree certificate forgery.
The Upper Legislative Chamber in suspending Ndume, accused him of unnecessarily distracting the Senate with allegations based on rumours. It also accused him of not investigating his claims before raising them on the floor of the Senate.
But the Southern Borno protesters who carried placards with different inscriptions, condemned the suspension in its entirety and declared that Ndume, as far as they are concerned, did not commit any offence to warrant such an action.
The protesters screamed “give us our Ndume! Ndume we need in NASS! Saraki is a curse to democracy!
Addressing journalists on the protest at the main entrance of the National Assembly blocked by the protesters, the National Chairman of Southern Borno People, Hon. Musa Ali, declared that the people of the Senatorial District would not allow their Senator to be out of the Senate for six months, which according to him, would be too unbearable for his constituents who have been benefiting and surviving from Ndume’s responsive representation over the years.
“We cannot allow our Senator to be out for six months as annoyingly decided by the Senate last week. Where do the Senators want IDPs who have been surviving through Ndume’s magnanimity run to? What about these hundreds of constituents benefiting from the Senator? Where do they want them to run to?
“Boko Haram insurgents pursued most of these people you are seeing away from their various homes in Southern Borno, but have been getting needed assistance and support from their Senator, Ali Ndume, only for the Senate to now pursue their helper from his place of help (Senate). This to us is unacceptable and must be revisited by the Senate,” he declared.
He further said: “This action in our view is not only without basis in law, but quite contrary to the clear intendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); in that it seeks to deny the peoples of Borno South Senatorial District of representation and a voice in the upper chamber of Parliament, at a critical period when the National Assembly is considering the 2017 appropriation bill.
“Distinguished Senate President, we are of the view that you are quite aware of several judicial pronouncements by courts of competent jurisdiction on issues of communal representation vis a vis the purported powers of Legislative House (especially the National Assembly) to suspend its members.
“We are also of the view that as in other similar cases, the suspension of distinguished Mohammed Ali Ndume would not stand the test of Judicial scrutiny, based solely on the conflict of such purported suspension with our constitutionally enshrined right to representation.”
Meanwhile, Borno citizens from the IDPs camp in Wassa, Abuja who joined in the protest, vowed not to return back to the camp if Ndume is not recalled by the Senate.
According to their spokesperson, Kyellu Suleiman, a native of Pulka from Gwoza Local Government, the Borno-born IDPs will remain at the Unity Fountain Square where they joined other protesters in marching to the National Assembly if the suspension slammed on Ndume is not lifted by the Senate.
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