Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was absent from Senate plenary on Tuesday after he had cowed that the appeal by the Senate and the Senate President at the Court of Appeal cannot stop him from resumption of legislative sessions, boasting that the Federal High Court judgment that nullified his 90 days suspension gave declaratory \ order that his resumption was with immediate effect.
Subsequently, the Senate had on Monday admitted that it will abide by the judgment of the federal high Court and will not stop the embattled senator from resuming legislative duties.
Omo-Agege’s absence at the Tuesday Senate plenary disappointed his supporters and admirers who were waiting anxiously to see the senator fulfill his vaunt that pending appeal cannot stop him from resumption.
However, the embattled senator appeared to have sensed imminent danger of stepping into the Upper Chamber amidst the controversies surrounding his reputation over certain activities in the senate.
The Senate on April 2, suspended Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central in the National Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after me made a public statement that the amendment of the Electoral Act and the alteration of the INEC timetable for the 2019 general election by the National Assembly was targeted at the President, and thereafter, rushed to the court to seek protection for discipline by the Upper Chamber.
Omo-Agege went to the federal high Court, Abuja, to challenge his suspension. The court in its judgment nullified the suspension, ruling that the suspension was unconstitutional. The court declared that the Senate cannot suspend a member beyond 14 days which its rules prescribed. Contrary from arguments by some stakeholders, the high court admitted that the senate has power to suspend a member, noting that such suspension should not be beyond the duration prescribed by the internal rules.
The Senate appealed the ruling but admitted in statement that while it was waiting for a stay of execution, it would not stop the lawmaker from resuming plenary.
A report by the Senate Committee on Ethics Privileges and Public Petitions culminated into the suspension of Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days.
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, had said the committee’s probe followed a Point-of-Order raised by Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi-APC) on the matter.
According to Anyanwu, Melaye drew Senate’s attention to a media briefing by Omo Agege, faulting senate’s adoption of the conference’s report on February 14.
Anyanwu noted that Melaye further intimated the senate that the media briefing by Omo Agege indicated that the resolution of the senate was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on May 10, held that while the National Assembly had the power to discipline its erring members, the premise on which Omo-Agege’s suspension was anchored was illegal.
Although the court refused to grant any of the seven prayers sought by the senator, it held that the suspension could not hold on grounds of the “violence” it did to the Constitution.
The judge noted that from the wording of the report of the Senate’s Ethics and Privileges Committee which recommended Omo-Agege’s suspension, he was punished for filing a suit against the Senate after apologising to the legislative house over the allegation leveled against him.
“Access to court is a fundamental right in the Constitution, which cannot be taken away by force or intimidation from any organ,” the judge ruled.
He held that even if the Senate had rightly suspended the senator, it could only have suspended him for only a period of 14 days — as prescribed in the Senate rules.
The judge therefore nullified Omo-Agege’s suspension “with immediate effect.”
He ordered that the senator be paid all his allowances and salaries for the period he was illegally suspended.