By Tunde Adetunji.
Senator Ali Ndume has remained largely silent since his suspension by the Senate last week, but not so for some of his Borno South Senatorial District constituents who Tuesday stormed the National Assembly gate, protesting the Senate action and demanding his re-instatement.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), from Ndume’s constituency also flooded the popular Unity Fountain in what has been interpreted as the Senator and his strategist’s response to the Senate action.
The IDPs have said they will not leave the fountain and the gate of the National Assembly for their camps until Ndume is recalled.
A source disclosed that Ndume saw his suspension coming, but did not expect it to last six months. “He opted for silence so as not to worsen his plight with his colleagues, but he definitely has other options like what you see his people doing, including the legal,” he added.
At the National Assembly protest where invectives were freely poured on Senate leadership, the National Chairman of Southern Borno People, Hon Musa Ali, told journalists: “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 benefitting 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.”
Ali also joined leaders from nine local goverment areas to write to the Senats.
They wrote, “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 scrutin, based solely on the conflict of such purported suspension with our constitutionally enshrined right to representation”.
Ndume was suspended for causing the Senate to initiate investigations of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Ethics and Privileges Committee for his alleged involvement in importing a Range Rover without customs duties. Senator Dino Melaye was also investigated for his academic records at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
But the Senate largely ignored the protests as it went into a closed session, and other businesses. Often, when protesters storm the National Assembly, a delegation is sent to them.