Falana lambastes senate over illegality, impunity

Femi Falana


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By Toye Faleye

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has lambasted the Senate members over what he called ‘serial illegalities and impunity.’ The lawyer justified his position by saying the suspension of the former Majority Leader in the Senate, Ali Ndume, was an act of illegality.


Ndume was suspended Wednesday at the plenary for six months for raising false allegations against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye, through order 14 and 15. The suspension followed report of Senator Anyanwu-led committee on Public Petitions, Ethic and Privileges which recommended for his suspension for one legislative year.


Falana said in a statement released on Wednesday: “The purported suspension of Senator Ali Ndume is the height of the serial illegality in the senate. In Hon Dino Melaye & Ors v House of Representatives (unreported) the Federal High Court declared the indefinite suspension of the plaintiffs illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that a legislator could not be suspended for more than 14 days.”

He continued: “But in House of Assembly v Hon Danna the Court of Appeal held that a legislative house in Nigeria is not competent to suspend a member even for a single day as it is a violation of the democratic rights of members of his/her constituency.”

Speaking on impunity fiery lawyer said the upper legislative chamber’s refusal to consider the appointment of 27 resident electoral commissioners (RECs) because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reluctance to sack Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was an act of impunity.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on it under section 3 (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 the senate has refused to confirm the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the (EFCC),” he said.

“However, President Buhari has decided to allow Mr Magu to continue to head the EFCC in an acting capacity. The decision of the president cannot be faulted by virtue of section 171 (1) (d) of the constitution which provides that the president is vested with the power to appoint the head of any extra ministerial department to hold office in an acting capacity. Such appointment does not require the confirmation of the senate.

“Completely aggrieved by the decision of the president to exercise his constitutional powers in the circumstance the senate has decided not to confirm the 27 newly appointed resident electoral commissioners until Mr Magu has been removed from office.

“In asking for the removal of Mr Magu the senate said that the anti-graft czar has been terrorising the senate. Should the senate resort to such cheap blackmail because the embattled EFCC helmsman has refused to compromise the prosecution and investigation of about 15 senators alleged to have been involved in serious economic and financial crimes? Why should the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki not be terrorised for the criminal diversion of N3.5 billion from the London/Paris Club loan refund?

“Before now, sharp disagreements between the national assembly and the executive had been submitted to the courts for judicial resolution in line with the rule of law… In view of the settled state of the law on summoning of critics by the national assembly and suspension of legislators the senate is advised to reverse its illegal decisions and quickly return to the path of constitutionalism in the interest of lasting democracy in the country.

“However, if the senate remains intransigent the executive branch of the government should adopt decisive measures to terminate the unending rein of impunity in the national assembly,” he added.

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