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Published On: Sun, May 6th, 2018

Omo-Agege’s Suspension: What the Law Says on AGF’s Claim


LAGOS MAY 6TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has said that the recent suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege by the Senate for 90 legislative days is illegal.
The AGF told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that he took the position in his constitutional powers as a defender and protector of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He therefore asked the court to declare all the actions leading to Omo-Agege’s suspension as unconstitutional and unlawful.
Malami spoke through Dayo Akpata, the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the Federation, who represented him in the court over the suit instituted by Omo-Agege over his suspension.
The court, however, fixed May 10 for judgment in the suit filed by the Senator challenging his suspension.
The upper legislative chamber had suspended Senator Omo-Agege, an All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator representing Delta Central, for 90 legislative days, following the consideration of a report by its Ethics Committee.
The Senate Ethic Committee had recommended that the Senator be suspended for 181 days, but the Senate reduced it after pleas from lawmakers. Omo-Agege, it would be recalled, was one of the Senators who kicked against the election reordering bill.
Akpata, on behalf Malami, the AGF, submitted: “Let me explain to the court why I have decided to take the position I took in this case. By the powers conferred on me, under Section 150 of the constitution, I have the constitutional responsibility as a defender and protector of the constitution.
“Any question relating to the interpretation of the constitution, the AGF is duty bound by the constitution to react to it.”
Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central Senatorial District, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/314/2018, is seeking an order of the court to restrain Senate from denying him access into the Senate chamber and or preventing him from carrying out his legitimate duty as a senator, in the National Assembly.
Those sued as defendants in the originating summons filed by his lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN), are the Senate, the Senate President and the AGF.
However, a cross section of Nigerians was worried over the interest of the Federal Government in the suit, which concerned happenings within the Senate, an arm of the National Assembly, the federal legislature, and why Omo-Agege should join the AGF in the suit.
Nigerians also wonder if the declaration of the Senate was legal considering that Omo-Agege represents a section of Nigerians in the upper chamber and by his suspension, the people would be denied his representation within the period of the 90 legislative days.
Omo-Agege’s Suspension Illegal, Unconstitutional – Falana
Barrister Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights activist, in his reaction to the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege by the Senate, said that no legislative House has the power to remove or suspend any of its member.
He therefore described Omo-Agege’s suspension as illegal and unconstitutional. According to him, “No legislative House can suspend or remove a member. It is only a court of law or the constituency that elected them can order the removal or suspension of their representative.
“This is because when you remove or suspend a legislator, his constituency no longer has a representative in that house and that is not legal.”
He recalled a case he handled involving a female lawmaker in the Bauchi House of Assembly, who was suspended indefinitely over a statement she made on the floor of the House.
He said the matter was fought up to the Court of Appeal, which held that the legislative House had no such power.
AGF Right On Omo-Agege – Activist
Comrade Taiwo Ayeni, an activist, has thrown his weight behind the Federal Government’s stand that the suspension of Senator Omo-Agege by the Senate as unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.
Ayeni, while reacting to the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami before the Federal High Court, Abuja, said the action of the Senate was an indication that the Senate has been divided.
He maintained that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation and Chief Law Officer, must defend the right of citizens of the country.
He said the suspension of Senator Omo-Agege was baseless and show of hatred to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ayeni maintained that Omo-Agege was suspended because he made some remarks that was regarded by the leadership of the Senate to be favouring Mr. President, adding that the basis for suspension has political undertone.
He said: “I think the government should not fold its arm and watch while some Nigerians are unjustifiably punishing others for no just cause.
“We cannot say that the executive is intervening or interfering in the affairs of the legislature, but at the same time, individual rights cannot be just trampled upon by any privileged individual.
“As the Chief Law Officer, the Minister of Justice is doing what he thinks is right under the law, not minding whose ox is gored.”
‘As AGF, Malami Has Right To Make The Declaration’
Nzeh Richard Onyema Obijuru is a Second Republic Politician and member of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP).
Obijuru, now member of the National Conscience Party (NCP), said: “It is true that Abubakar Malami as the nation’s Attorney General and a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), has the right to protect the Constitution from being tramped upon.
“But, do not forget the fact that he is a legal expert and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). As a legal luminary and SAN for that matter, I have no doubt that he knows our constitution inside out.
“So, if he declares the suspension of Senator Omo-Agege unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful, he must have done so in accordance with the provision of the constitution. This should not be interpreted as interference by the executive in a legislative matter.
“Are you saying that being a member of the Federal Exco, that the Attorney General of the Federation is no longer conversant and knowledgeable in what our constitution says?
“I still insist that with his current portfolio, be belongs to both side of the divide. But, his primary constituency is the legal constituency.
Daily Independent

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