What do senators stand to lose when they are suspended?

For the first time in a long while, the Nigerian Senate suspended one of its own, Senator Abdul Ningi, following his controversial claim on the 2024 budget.

Ningi, who until his three-month suspension was the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) was sanctioned because he ‘deliberately lied’ against the National Assembly and the executive.

During the red chamber’s deliberation of the matter on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim moved a motion that the lawmaker be suspended for 12 months.

The lawmaker representing Ondo South also urged the Senate to strip Ningi of his entitlements and privileges.

At the end of the plenary, the PDP lawmaker representing Bauchi Central was handed a three-month suspension.

With Ningi’s suspension taking effect immediately after he left the legislative House, one may wonder if the Senate has the power to suspend a senator given the fact that a lawmaker is elected to represent the interest of a senatorial district.

If this thought crosses your mind, rest assured, that the Senate has its Standing Orders, which spell out the rules members must abide by and sanctions for any act that may be interpreted as improper conduct.

Section 60 of the Nigeria Constitution also empowers the National Assembly to regulate its proceedings and procedures.

The section states “The Senate or the House of Representatives shall have power to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for summoning and recess of the House.”

In any case, the idea of suspending erring senators is not just to officially prevent them from temporarily carrying out their duties as representatives of their constituencies, but to enforce discipline.

Reacting to Ningi’s suspension, Shehu Sani, a former lawmaker, explained that the suspension of a lawmaker comes with other disciplinary measures. Here is what suspended senators stand to lose during the period of their suspension.

  1. A suspended senator will not be allowed to attend the plenary and will be prohibited from attending committee meetings and participating in oversight functions.

  2. The salary, allowances and all entitlements of any lawmaker suspended from the Senate will be blocked.

  3. Such a senator will not have access to his/her office.

  4. During the suspension period, the erring lawmaker is not expected to be seen within the premises of the National Assembly.

According to the ex-lawmaker, the fear of suspension is the reason opposition lawmakers don’t usually oppose the standpoint of the senators of the ruling party.

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