From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
There was fireworks in the House of Representatives, yesterday, as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) disagreed over a motion calling on the reversal of the Executive Order on ownership of firearms.
The sponsor of the motion, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, a PDP member from Abia State, had sought to move the motion on notice when the public address system went off.
However, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila urged him to use his natural voice and move the motion, entitled: “Need to Reverse the Executive Order and Police Directive Banning Possession and Issuance of Licenses for Firearms in the Country.”
But the Abia lawmaker insisted that he would speak when the public address system is on, so that he can be heard.
Abonta in the motion had expressed worry that “without a clear policy or plan to mop up illegal small arms and light weapons that are responsible for crimes, the ban on licensed arm ownership and issuance of new licences will further encourage those perpetrating evil acts to do more.”
When eventually, the technical hitch was addressed and Abonta was called upon to move the motion, he prayed the speaker to allow him step down for Tuesday next week.
The lawmaker noted that he was not comfortable with remarks made by the House Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, on the motion.
The discussion soon degenerated into an APC versus PDP affair, as the House became charged over the matter.
Ahmad Jaha, an APC member from Borno, while speaking under matters of privilege, stated that Abonta’s decision to defer the motion was a breach of his privilege as a member of the House.
Jaha said: “He (Abonta) brought the matter because of the level of preparedness. Now he is taking excuse. That he wants to take it to Tuesday. As far as I am concerned, my privilege is been breached. He has three options to either take the motion, or step it down for further legislative consultation or withdraw the motion completely.”
Fred Agbedi, a PDP from Bayelsa, said the comments by Ado-Doguwa on the motion, was in bad taste.
According to him, “the leader of the House is a respected member of this House because he’s the leader of every member of this House, and whatever he says has about 70 to 80 percent influence on the thinking of other members.
“So, when he makes a negative comment about a motion, it sends jitters down the spines of others that there’s a problem, and we, as members, would not expect certain comments from the person of the House leader.”
However, Ado-Doguwa said his opinion remains that the timing of the motion is wrong.
The House leader said Abonta has a right to go ahead with the motion and have it killed immediately or bring it at a later date and also have it rejected by the House.
“This idea brought about now may have been better at another time. Not in this kind of circumstances, where we believe proliferation of small and medium arms is quite counter-productive to the fight against insurgency and other crimes.
“I am also the ambassador of the government on the floor of the House and I believe the decision of the government through which President Muhammadu Buhari ban that thing is well informed and in the best interest of the country.
“That is my position. Abonta you have the liberty to bring your motion now to be killed or to delay the killing of your motion,” he said.
Abonta later step down the motion for the next legislative day, subsequent to the convenience of the House.