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Senator Omo-Agege resumes at Senate

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 Ovie Omo- Agege, APC, Delta Central resumed today at the Senate. Senator Omo- Agege who came in at 10am through the main gate to the entrance of the Senate Chamber, went straight to the entrance and signed the attendance register. The senator who discovered that the Chamber was empty, went to his office, just as he said he would come to the chamber as soon as other senators come into the hallowed chamber to commence today’s plenary. Speaking with Vanguard, Omo- Agege said, ” Yes I have resumed, I am around to continue with my legislative activities.”

Senator was suspended for 90 legislative days by the senate but following the nullification of his suspension by an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court he resumed today. The Senate has on April 12, suspended Senator Ovie Omo- Agege for ninety legislative days, apparently for kicking against the new sequence of elections adopted by the Upper chambers which was alleged to have been targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of 2019 election.  Senator Omo- Agege was also asked to withdraw his suit against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Senate from the court as part of the conditions to forgive him at the expiration of the ninety legislative days suspension. The Senate had also mandated that Parliamentary Support Group( Senate) for President Muhammadu Buhari in which Senator Omo- Agege is the Secretary and Senator Abdullahi Adamu,APC, Nasarawa West is the Chairman, must be disbanded immediately. Decisions of the Senate were subsequent to the report of Senator Samuel Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East led Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions which investigated the Senator. Earlier, the Committee had recommended that Senator Omo- Agege be suspended for 181 legislative days for dragging the upper chamber to court and to serve as a deterrent to others, but following pleads from Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North and Kabiru Marafa, APC, Zamfara Central for leniency and in the spirit of one family, Senate President Bukola Saraki reduced it to 90 legislative days. It will be recalled that the Senate had in March, asked the Committee to summon Senator Omo- Agege over his comments that the new amendment to the Electoral Act regarding election sequence in the 2019 general elections was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari. Presenting the report, Senator Anyanwu said, “Having carefully and fully exhausted all sides to the matter and the inherent implication therefrom for today and the future of the National Assembly, the Committee recommends as follows: “That Senator Ovie Omo-Agege be suspended for 181 legislative days from the date this resolution is taken to serve as deterrent to other Senators who might contemplate taking the Senate to court over its power to regulate or determine its internal matters.” Speaking further, Senator Anyanwu said that “After carefully examining the documents before the Committee and hearing out the complainant and respondent, the Committee observed as follows: “That after Senator Ovie Omo-Agege had admitted guilt on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, 21st February, 2018 by apologising to the Leadershipand the entire Senate, the Committee was surprised that he changed his mind and took the Senate President and the Senate to court; “That as an insightful, effective and forthright member of the Committee up to that hour, this action infuriated all the members of the Committee who fired questions from all directions at him; “That when he was asked if his court action came before or after the matter was referred to the Committee and whether a court action could stop the Senate from carrying out its responsibility, he kept mute; but the Committee noted that his court action came after the referral and his apology; “That after the Distinguished Senator had apologised, he and Senator Abdullahi Adamu published an advert in the Vanguard Newspaper with the heading, Parliamentary Support Group (Senate) for President Muhammadu Buhari”, suggesting that the Senate was polarised; “That the Committee is of the opinion that the action by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of going to court after apologising to the Senate was totally unacceptable, especially as an experienced lawyer and member of the Committee who is conversant with the modus operandi of same, and therefore, must be punished to serve as deterrent to others who might contemplate taking the Senate to court over its internal matters.” Following his suspension, Omo-Agege, however went to court to challenge his suspension and the court in its ruling, declared the action unconstitutional, saying that the Senate could not suspend a member beyond 14 days. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, of Federal High Court 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 had 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. The judge also added that the Senate’s decision to punish Omo-Agege for filing a suit against the Senate and for punishing him while his suit was pending constituted an affront on the judiciary. He added 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. He also ruled that the principle of natural justice was breached by the Senate’s Ethics and Privileges Committee by allowing Senator Dino Melaye, who was the complainant, to participate in the committee’s sitting that considered the issue and also allowed him to sign the committee’s report. The judge therefore nullified Omo-Agege’s suspension “with immediate effect.” He also ordered that the senator be paid all his allowances and salaries for the period he was illegally suspended. The Senate however appealed the ruling but said in statement late Monday night that while it was waiting for a stay of execution, it would not stop the lawmaker from resuming plenary The Senate on Monday night said that as an institution, it will respect the ruling of the court by allowing the suspended Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, resume plenary yesterday. A statement by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi read, “The Senate leadership has been briefed by our lawyers on last Thursday’s judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on whether the Senate has the legal authority to suspend a member for certain misconduct or not. “We have equally filed an appeal against the judgement of the court and a motion for stay of execution of the judgement at the Court of Appeal. “As an institution that obeys the law and court orders, the Senate has decided that it will comply with the judgement of the Federal High Court and do nothing to stop Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from resuming in his office and at plenary from tomorrow May 15, 2018, pending the determination of the application for stay of execution. “The Senate has been advised that since the motion for stay of execution of the Thursday (May 10, 2018) judgement shall be heard and possibly determined on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, we shall therefore respect the subsisting High Court judgement and await the appellate court’s decision on the pending motion.”

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