Likely Punishments Senator Elisha Abbo Might Face For Assaulting Nursing Mother

2 years ago Fashanu 0

The lawmaker was caught on camera brutally slapping a woman during a disagreement inside a sex toy shop in Abuja. The emergence of the video on Tuesday, July 2 led to widespread outrage, with many Nigerians calling for the lawmaker to be suspended by the Senate, and prosecuted by the Police. Despite initial defiance, the lawmaker has issued a very public, teary-eyed apology to his victim and asked her, and Nigerians, for forgiveness.

Yet, Nigerians are not completely appeased, and that could mean a lot of things for Senator Abbo.

1. Recall from Senate

A recall is a constitutional instrument voters can use to unseat a serving lawmaker before the end of their tenure. Senator Abbo can be recalled from the Red Chamber of the National Assembly and replaced through a by-election [National Assembly] The process to recall Abbo could commence if “not less than one-half” (51%) of the registered voters in his senatorial district sign a petition for that purpose. The petition must be signed and arranged according to polling units, wards, Local Government Areas, and constituency and then sent to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC would then be required to notify Abbo that his constituents have served a notice to recall him and then publicly announce a timetable for the rest of the process. The next stage of the process would be the verification of the signatures in the recall register to be sure that petitioners are in INEC’s electoral voters’ register. If the minimum requirement is met, INEC would then conduct a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ referendum in the senator’s district within 90 days of receipt of the petition. If a simple majority of the registered voters in Adamawa North vote Yes, INEC would then send a Certificate of Recall to the Senate President to effect the recall and declare Abbo’s seat vacant. With Abbo’s seat declared vacant, INEC would then conduct a by-election to elect his replacement.

If the failed attempt to recall Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West – PDP) last year proves anything, it’s that it’s incredibly difficult to pull it off, almost like it’s rigged to fail. Even though a total of 188,580 registered voters in Melaye’s constituency had signed a register to recall him in June 2017, the verification exercise in April 2018 was marred by an overwhelming low turn out. Only 5.34% of the total signatories to the petition could be verified, putting an end to the process. The recall process against Senator Dino Melaye cost the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) around N100 million but failed spectacularly [Tori] The recall process was also notably marked by controversies such as forged signatures and names of dead people affixed to the recall petition. This process might also be ineffective to remove Abbo.

2. Senate suspension

During its plenary on Wednesday, July 3, the Nigerian Senate set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the case against Abbo. Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North – APC) said the committee will give fair hearing to all sides and submit its report in two weeks. While a suspension seems the obvious punishment, especially considering the overwhelming evidence and Abbo’s implicit admission of guilt, the National Assembly has a controversial history with suspending its members. The legislative arm has lost several times in court for suspending members, as the judiciary has ruled in many cases that it has no such power. The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan [Twitter/@SPNigeria] Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South – APC), Senator Melaye, while he was a member of the House of Representatives, and Hon. Abdulmuminu Jibrin are some of the few lawmakers that have had their suspensions by the National Assembly overturned by the court. When Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central – APC) was suspended for 90 legislative days (six months) last year, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that a member of the chamber cannot be suspended for more than 14 legislative days according to section 67(4) of the 2015 Senate Standing Orders. Despite the Senate’s thorny history with suspending members, it is a real possibility for Abbo considering the public spotlight on his case. However, the suspension might not exceed 14 legislative days as held by the judiciary. The committee that’ll investigate Abbo’s case will be chaired by Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North – PDP). Members are Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central – APC), Senator Matthew Uroghide (Edo South – PDP), Senator Stella Oduah (Anambra North – PDP), Senator Dauda Haliru (Bauchi Central – APC), Senator Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North West – APC) and Senator Mohammed Sani (Niger East – APC).

3. Party suspension

In a statement released on Wednesday, July 3, Abbo’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), condemned the lawmaker’s “act of lawlessness and callousness” as captured in the video. PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus [Thisday] The party said Abbo’s personal conduct has no bearing with its culture and that such will not be condoned. The party also announced that it has commenced investigation into the matter and summoned Abbo in line with the provisions of its constitution.

While the PDP assured the public that it’ll not spare a thought in taking action against any erring member, it’s unlikely that Abbo will be expelled from the party, especially since it’s already the minority in both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly. However, a suspension is very likely but that would significantly affect nothing for the senator.

4. Police prosecution

Even though the assaulted woman filed an official complaint with the Police in May, the authorities failed to act against the senator. However, the outrage that greeted the emergence of the video forced the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to order a comprehensive investigation into the incident. Senator Elisha Abbo with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu in Kaduna in April 2019 [Nigeria Police Force] Senator Abbo was detained and questioned for hours after he turned himself in for interrogation on Thursday, but he has not been officially charged yet. If he’s charged to court and found guilty of assault, he could be sentenced to a three-year jail term.

5. Resignation from office

A final, most definitive punishment for Senator Abbo’s assault on the woman would be his voluntary resignation from office. This is an outcome many people have called for. However, as a typical Nigerian politician, pigs would have to fly before that happens.

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