THE Senate, on Tuesday, approved the resumption of former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume having served suspension for 90 legislative days from March 30 to November 14.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session and announced the resumption after a closed session, said: “The Senate at the closed-door session resolved to allow Senator Ndume resume sitting in the Senate from tomorrow today after serving the 90 legislative days suspension slammed on him on March 29 this year without prejudice to the current court processes.”
Senator Ndume, on Friday, last week, secured judgment from a Federal High Court in Abuja, nullifying the suspension with order for his immediate reinstatement by the Senate and payment of his outstanding salaries and allowances.
However, the Senate appealed against the judgment on Monday, on the grounds of alleged lack of jurisdiction by the court to entertain the case in the first place.
In his reaction, Senator Ndume told newsmen that the Senate had, through its Clerk, Nelson Ayewoh, written him to resume today.
Ndume, who spoke last Friday, at his quarters, said: “The judgment to me is a welcome development in the sense that I never believed the Senate acted right in the first place as far as the suspension was concerned.
“Now that the court has nullified it, in the eye of the law, I was never suspended, meaning that all money due to me during the period must be paid.
“Though the court also ordered for my immediate reinstatement, but before the ruling, the Senate had communicated to me to that effect through a letter from the Clerk of the Senate. So, ruling or no ruling, I am resuming to the Senate on Wednesday next week (today),” he said.
In another development, the Senate, on Tuesday, approved $5.5 billion loan request forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari in October for two different purposes.
The Senate, however, assured that it would properly oversight all the projects that the loans were meant to support in the outgoing 2017 budget.
President Buhari, in the letter of request dated October 4, sought for approval of $2.5 billion external loan to finance the 2017 Appropriation Act and another $3 billion external loan to refinance domestic debts.
He explained that the external borrowings had been captured in the 2017 Appropriation Act, which according to him, had a deficit of N2.356 trillion and provision for new borrowings of N2.321 trillion.
The Senate, however, approved the request and directed the president to proceed on securing the external borrowings.
This, however, followed the adoption of a report by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts which was presented in plenary.
Chairman of the Foreign and Local Debt Committee Senator Shehu Sani, who presented the report, explained that the loan met the Senate’s approval because it was in line with the borrowing plan of the 2017 Appropriation Act.
According to him, the terms of the loans were favorable and did not pose any compromise of the integrity, independence and interest of the country and it citizens.
He stressed that the projects to be executed with the loan like completion of Mambilla Hydropower project, construction of second runway for the International Airport in Abuja, counterpart funding for the rail projects across the country, among others, were essential for economic and social development, and that when completed, would create job opportunities for jobless Nigerians.
In his remarks after the loan approvals, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremad, who presided over the session, noted that the upper legislative chamber would continue to support all efforts by the executive to boost the economy as long as such fiscal instruments were for the betterment of the Nigerian people.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate mandated its committees on finance and banking, insurance and other financial institutions to investigate the alleged N20 trillion unremitted stamp duties revenue in the last five years and report back within eight weeks.
It also commended the tenacity and fortitude of the School of Banking Honours (SBH) for bringing the issue of unremitted stamp duties revenue to public notice and for insisting on probity of the Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).
These followed a motion sponsored by Senator John Owan Enoh and 10 others.
Senator Enoh, while presenting the motion, said he was perturbed by recent reports in the media that over N7 trillion in stamp duties revenue from electronic cashless transactions remained unpaid to the federation since 2015, and that the total volume of unremitted stamp duties fund was about N20 trillion.