Outrage greets Deputy Speaker’s attempt to defend self
By Akpo Ometan
An attempt by the Deputy Speaker of the house of representatives, to defend himself on account of the recriminations that have greeted his ruling that Nigerians living in the Diaspora cannot turn in petitions to the house on issues of concern to them in Nigeria has triggered even further outrage with some asking that he should be removed from his position and recalled by his Plateau State constituents.
In his attempt to clarify the issues under contention, the Deputy Speaker had said through his spokesman, Umar Puma:
“To set the records straight, let it be categorically stated that the crux of the encounter between the Deputy Speaker, presiding as Speaker, and Honorable Mark Gbillah was on the LEGAL IDENTITY (and flowing from that, the LOCUS) of the petitioners and not on the whether Nigerians in the diaspora have a right to petition the House or not.”
“The House of Representatives belongs to all Nigerians and can be accessed by all Nigerians wherever they may reside. However, like other arms of Government, (such as Courts of Law), Petitioners must follow laid down rules and procedures in presenting their petitions to the House, otherwise, there would be lawlessness, disorder and chaos.”
It will be recalled that the entire incident had come to the public domain when Wase, while presiding at last Thursday’s plenary, had stoutly resisted the tabling of a petition by his colleague in the house, Hon. Mark Gbillah, from the “Mutual Union of the Tiv in America,” on the plight of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in Benue State. According to the Deputy Speaker, Nigerians in the diaspora were not in a position to really know the situation of things in the country and by extension therefore were not qualified to file petitions before the house that will be acceptable to him as long as he was in the saddle.
In the originating plea, Gbillah, representing Benue Gwer east/Gwer west federal constituency, had sought leave of the presiding officer to table the petition that was accusing the federal government of not resettling the Tiv people displaced from their ancestral land through various attacks.
“I have a petition from the mutual union of the Tiv in America against the federal government of Nigeria and the issue has to do with the ancestral land of the TiV people that seems to have been possessed in recent times through various attacks and the fact that they are languishing in IDP camps till date without any intervention,” Gbillah had averred.
Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives