The Senate has suspended the lawmaker representing Bauchi Central, Abdul Ningi, for three months.

Ningi was suspended after about three hours of debate over his interview in which he alleged that the National Assembly padded the 2024 N28.7tn budget.

The Senate also warned Senator Suleiman Kawu (NNPP, Kano South) against sharing and distributing disturbing news about the Senate.

Senator Olamilekan Adeola had come under Orders 9, 10, 41, and 51 to move a motion of privilege and issue of national importance against Ningi over his interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation ( Hausa Service).

Ningi had, in the interview on Saturday, alleged that the budget passsd by the National Assembly for the 2024 fiscal year is N25tn while the one being implemented by the Presidency is N28.7tn.

He was quoted as saying that, “For the first time in Nigerian history, today we are operating two different budgets. One budget was approved by the National Assembly and signed by President Bola Tinubu and the one was implemented by the presidency.

“The one approved by us is ₦25tn while the one operating by the Federal Government is ₦28tn.

“Apparently, we discovered ₦3tn was inserted into the budget for projects without locations. This is the highest budget padding that happened in Nigerian history under Senator Akpabio’s watch.”

Ningi, also at a press conference on Monday, said that N3tn was left unaccounted for in the 2024 budget.

Adeola, in his motion, stated that in the January-December Budget Cycle, sub-committees submitted their harmonised reports to the Committee on Appropriation and the report of the Committee on Appropriation submitted to the Senate was unanimously passed on Saturday, December 30, 2023 and a Budget of N28.77 trillion was assented by the President on January 1, 2024.

He said, “The additional increase of N1.2tn to what was presented by the President came during the appropriation process through additional funding requests and some items of expenditure to the Committee that were not included in the bill as submitted by the President and were meant to address additional funding for the Judiciary, Agriculture and Food Security, Works, Science and Technology, Education, Water Resources, National Assembly, Health and National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme;(please see attached details).

“The additional source of funding for the increase came from the increase in the benchmark of naira to dollar from N750-N800, increase in Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) revenue and other sources;”

Adeola, therafter prayed the Senate that pursuant to Order 1(b) of the Senate Standing Order 2023 (as Amended) allow immediate deliberation of the matter and take appropriate action deemed fit in the overriding public interest and as a matter of urgent public importance to prevent break down of law and order.

He prayed, “Take further necessary steps to correct the wrong impression in the public domain of the 2024 budget created by the BBC interview and other national media houses and social media platforms by Senator Abdul Ningi and amplified by Senator Suleiman Abdulrahman Kawu through his Facebook account and other social media platforms; and

“Take any further decision as the senate deem fit and proper to safeguard the integrity of the 2024 budget which is pivotal to the revamping of our economy.”

After extensive deliberation, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim ( APC, Ondo South) moved a motion that Ningi be suspended for 12 months.

Still, the motion was amended by Senator Asququo Ekpeyong (APC,  Cross River South)  that the punishment be reduced to six months.

Senator Garba Maidoki (PDP, Kebbi South) then moved that Ningi be suspended for three months or that an apology be accepted if he wrote to the Senate within 24 hours.

He was seconded by Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East), whose motion the Senate eventually adopted.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio, in his initial comment before the debate, noted that Nigerians were bashing the Senate.

Akpabio said,  “Nigerians are bashing the Senate. Many Nigerians will never come back to respect this chamber in the future. The integrity of this chamber has been totally damaged, and we wanted you (Ningi) to repair it with your speech.

“Instead of that, you said you have more documents to prove what you are saying. This thing is in the public glare. I have not yet received the full details. If you had given me full details, I would have been able to know what you know.

“So far, what you know is only known to you, it is not known to any other person. I don’t know how you rushed to the press carrying different versions. The social media is very fast. From Canada, the United States, everywhere, the story was budget padding by the Senate.”