By Naomi Sharang
Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege on Wednesday appeared before the Senate in plenary.
Omo-Agege was seen signing the attendance register within the upper chamber.
The Senate on April 12, suspended Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) over a “dissenting comment’’ on decision of the Upper Chamber on adoption of conference report on Electoral Act (2010) Amendment Bill.
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.
The Senate appealed the ruling but said in a statement that while it was waiting for a stay of execution, it would not stop the lawmaker from resuming plenary.
NAN reports that 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 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.