As the Senate prepares to legally fence-out its suspended member, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC/Delta Central) from returning to the red chamber, there are strong indications that the embattled legislator may launch a fresh invasion of the National Assembly today to forcefully reclaim his seat.
A crowd of supposed supporters of the embattled lawmaker is expected to picket the gates of the National Assembly today to demand his recall. Ahead of the expected resumption of Omo-Agege, security was yesterday beefed up at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The suspended yesterday vowed to resume plenary today. The Senate had on April 12 suspended Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days for accusing his colleagues of amending the Electoral Act 2014 purposely to frustrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid.
The lawmaker made the allegation following the adoption of the Conference Report on the Electoral Act, which proposed a reordering of the sequence of the general elections in the country.
Barely a week after the suspension, Omo-Agege forced his way back to his seat, allegedly with the aid of some hoodlums who invaded the red chamber and took away the mace, the symbol of legislative authority.
The police had, last week, blamed the invasion of the Senate chamber on perceived connivance among some unnamed political actors in the parliament.
Omo-Agege is the scribe of the banned Parliamentary Support Group for Buhari (PSGB), a group of legislators drumming support for President Buhari’s second term ambition. New Telegraph gathered that Omo-Agege will be returning to the Senate today with a motley crowd of supporters while the PSGB will be on hand to receive him.
A source who spoke to New Telegraph on the condition of anonymity said much of the crowd would be imported from Delta State. According to our source, a convoy of buses conveying about 150 youths left Asaba, Delta State, for Abuja yesterday, for the planned protest in support of Omo-Agege’s return to the National Assembly.
The planned protest would revolve around the need to enforce the court ruling declaring the suspension of Omo-Agege as illegal.
Omo-Agege yesterday vowed to resume at the Senate today. Speaking with journalists at the All Progressives Congress (APC) national headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the senator said: “The enrolment of the court order is being served on the Senate as we speak and I believe that it has been served on the Senate.
Thereafter, I reserve the right to resume whenever I deem fit. “I don’t expect any resistance because that will have its own consequences. “This is a court order and you must understand the basis of the court judgement.
The court rendered that judgement because it felt that they were contemptuous. My matter was in court and, notwithstanding, they proceeded to purportedly suspend me.
It was on that basis that the court exercised its power to reverse the suspension and not necessarily on the merit of my case. “Now, I understand that they have gone to court to ask for a stay of that judgement. For those of you who are familiar with the law, that is an equitable relief. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
You cannot be in contempt of the court and at the same time ask the court to grant you an equitable relief of stay. In any case, it is a declaratory judgement, which is not stayable in law and the judge said with immediate effect. “So, I don’t need any other action to take my seat. So, to answer your question, I will show up any time I deem fit.
There is no reason why I should not show up tomorrow (today). More likely, I will be in the Senate on Tuesday.” Strengthening of security arrangement at the complex, especially around the Senate Chambers is to forestall likely security breach as recorded on April 18, when some hoodlums stormed the chambers and made away with the Mace.
The incident which occurred while plenary was ongoing in the chambers was linked to Omo-Agege, who defied the suspension order on him and attended the proceedings, accompanied by some strange fellows into the chamber.
Apart from full security detail in the chamber of the red chamber on Monday, police officers were seen at the lobby leading into the chamber, a development that is unusual on a non-sitting day.
Sergeants-at-Arms were also seen in clusters discussing in hush tones, and apparently perfecting the security beef-up.
Some staff of the assembly, who pleaded anonymity, said that the development was not unconnected with the expected return of Omo- Agege to the chamber on today after the court judgement in his favour.
They confirmed that the move to check likely breakdown of law and order as experienced when the mace was forcefully taken away. The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had, last Thursday, voided the suspension of Omo-Agege by the Senate.
The court, in a judgement delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that the reason the Senate adduced for suspending Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days, was unconstitutional. The court further noted that the Ethics and Privileges Committee of the Senate recommended that Omo- Agege should be suspended to punish him for instituting legal action against the legislative house.
The court held that while the Senate has the powers to sanction its erring members to protect its integrity, no institution or authority has the powers to strip any citizen his right of access to the court. Justice Dimgba further noted that whereas sections 67(4) of the Senate Standing Rules 2014 and section 21(2) of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act, okayed the suspension of any erring lawmakers for 14 legislative days, the Senate went ahead and handed Omo-Agege 90-day suspension.
“The suspension of the plaintiff for 90 days is ultravires of powers of the 1st defendant (Senate). Any suspension of member of the Senate that exceeds 14 days is null and void and unconstitutional,” the court held.
The court ordered the Senate to recall the plaintiff immediately and equally pay him any salary or allowance that accrued to him within the period he was illegally suspended.
Omo-Agege had, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/314/2018, prayed the court to quash his suspension and declare that he was illegally barred from attending plenary at the Senate. However, the Senate reportedly appealed the ruling of the court and applied for a stay of execution of the order to recall the legislator. The appeal has been slated for consideration tomorrow.
Credits: Onwuka Nzeshi and Johnchuks Onuanyim(New Telegraph)