Budget padding: I’m not behind Ningi’s suspension, Akpabio replies Falana

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday, claimed innocence over the suspension of Bauchi Central Senator, Abdul Ningi, over allegations of budget padding.

The lawmaker had, through his lawyer, Femi Falana, demanded the lifting of his suspension.

Ningi warned that if his suspension is not lifted within seven days, he will take legal action against the Senate President, arguing that the process leading to his suspension was flawed.

Recall that Ningi was suspended by the Senate on March 12 for three months after claiming that the 2024 budget was padded with about N3.7 trillion.

But Akpabio’s counsel, Umeh Kalu, SAN, in a letter to Falana, titled: ‘Re: Request to Lift the Suspension of Sen. Abdul Ningi’, stressed that the Senate President was not behind Ningi’s suspension.

According to the letter, “We are solicitors to Sen. Godswill Akpabio and write you in respect of the above subject matter at his instance.

“Your letter of March 27, with the above caption has been referred to us with instructions to react thereto.

“We have carefully read through your analysis of the facts and circumstances leading to your client’s suspension from the Senate.

“We are unable to find reason in your verdict of our client’s sole culpability in the said suspension. We therefore plead non est factum for our client.

“In addition to the above and contrary to the contents of your letter under reference, our client was at no time your client’s accuser, prosecutor and judge.

“Our client’s role at the session of the Senate that led to your client’s suspension was and remains the statutory role of a Legislative House Presiding Officer.

“Which role equally includes pronouncing the majority decision of the Legislative House at the end of debate and voting.

“Permit us to mention your attempt at drawing our client’s attention to legal authorities and pronouncements of our Courts of record on the unconstitutionality of suspending members of Legislative Houses.

“Which attempt we dare say was unhelpful, due to your failure or refusal to make available, the relevant particulars of the said Court decisions in your letter.

“You may wish to provide these legal authorities which you have alluded to, bearing in mind that every decision of a court emanates from its peculiar facts, circumstances and extant laws.

“In as much as it may not be necessary to canvass herein all the remedies available to our client, in response to your threats of a court action and petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).

“It is important we mention that legislative proceedings are guided by rules.

“We urge you to give due consideration to the legal issues raised in this letter and be guided accordingly in your further and future action in respect of this matter.”

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