Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west senatorial district, has assured Ali Ndume, his Borno south counterpart, that Senate President Bukola Saraki will reduce his punishment if he tenders an apology.
The upper legislative chamber suspended Ndume for six months based on the recommendation of its ethics and privileges committee.
The committee made the recommendation after clearing Saraki and Melaye of allegations brought against them.
Ndume had moved a motion for his colleagues to be probed, arguing that the reputation of the senate was at stake based on allegations levelled against them.
While Saraki was accused of harassing Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of customs, because the agency seized a vehicle belonging to him, Melaye was said to have forged the certificate of his bachelor’s degree from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
Both men denied the allegations, describing them as the handiwork of their detractors.
Speaking on Friday when he appeared as a guest on Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, Melaye said Ndume was not a victim of witch-hunt.
“Senator Ndume is an experienced legislator, having been in the house of representatives for two terms, and this being his second term in the senate,” he said.
“I didn’t prophecy that he would be suspended, or did Bukola Saraki, who was wrongly accused. We are not the ones who make up the senate. Ndume should understand the workings of the national assembly. The senate is made up of 109 members.
“So, the decision to suspend Ndume was not that of Saraki or myself, but the decision of the Nigerian senate after investigation by the relevant committees… We have a very responsible senate president, a very compassionate Nigerian who does not believe in witch-hunting.
“Already, there is a lot of pressure, and people are appealing to the person of Bukola Saraki, and I can say on good authority that if Saraki had presided over Ndume’s case, he may not have been suspended because the senate president is a compassionate character. So, if Ndume shows remorse, apologise to the senate, the Bukola Saraki that I know will persuade members to either reduce his punishment or forgive him.”
He also disagreed with those who said Ndume was not given fair hearing.
“The senate has the capacity to suspend any erring senator, but what we are saying here is very clear, due process was followed,” he said.
“Ali Ndume was given fair hearing. He appeared before the committee, he defended himself before the committee gave that recommendation, which was ratified by the entire senate.”
Melaye deliberately avoided questions on his claim of obtaining a degree from Harvard degree, but chose to speak on other issues relating to it.
“Even a mechanic or a plumber who undergoes apprenticeship is given a certificate… he graduates from his training,” he said.
“Anyone who attends a particular institution and is given a certificate that he attended the programme, whether it is diploma, a degree or PhD, as long as you have been given a certificate, you are a graduate of that institution because you carry a certificate of that institution.
“I am not going to be distracted.”
On the outrage of the public over the decision to suspend Ndume, Melaye said lawyers and public commentators who have been “blabbing and attacking the senate” cannot influence decisions taken by the senate.
“What the lawyers and many others who have been insulting and assaulting the senate fail to understand is that they are not senators,” he said.
“They are not part of our decision making. They do not know the debates that led to resolutions and opinions of the senate.
“So, they can only blab from outside… Unfortunately, they cannot influence or destroy whatever we have done. If they want to understand how resolutions are reached or understand the workings of the senate, they would have to contest election and come into the senate. Some have been speaking from the point of ignorance.”