The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase said the House of Representatives would accept petitions from all Nigerians and laid down rules and procedures must be followed to avoid lawlessness and chaos.
Wase in a press statement signed by his Chief Preaa Secretary, Umar Muhammed Puma said the disagreement between the Deputy Speaker during plenary last Wednesday was on legal identity of the Association of Tivs Resident in the United States.
“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 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.”
He described as unfortunate how the legislative encounter between him and Hon. Mark Gbillah during plenary of Wednesday was doctored and given ethnic colouration.
“Let it be categorically stated that the coverage and reportage of the incident have mostly been doctored, slanted and bent to give political and ethnic coloration to an event that was otherwise strictly based on Rules of Parliamentary Procedures.”
He explained that, “As a Rule, every Petition must be presented by a Sponsor on behalf of an identifiable Petitioner who can either be an individual/groups of individuals or registered corporate entity.
“In the current incident, the Sponsor of the Petition read the Petitioners as: ASSOCIATION OF TIVS RESIDENT IN THE UNITED STATES. For any experienced Parliamentarian, this very coinage raises a lot of technical questions.
“Are the Petitioners represented here in Nigeria via a Nigerian Office or a Legal Practitioner or are they totally absent from the scene? Are they registered as an Association with the Corporate Affairs Commission? If they are absent and a hearing were to be organized, who would the members of the Committee on Public Petition be addressing, questioning or interrogating?
” Would the Petitioners be able to give first hand witness testimony as to the issues raised in their petition? These and other technical complications were what the Deputy Speaker tried to interrogate, to which sufficient answers were not provided thus stalling the presentation of the Petition.”
He noted that the House of Representatives over the years have entertained Petitions from Nigerians in diaspora and those petitions were properly presented before the House without any ambiguity as to the identity of the Petitioners or as to their locus and availability to speak to the issues raised in such Petitions.
The Deputy Speaker reiterated the commitment of the 9th House of Representatives to continue to promote freedom of speech and associations as well as provide platforms for all Nigerians irrespective of their religions or tribes or whether resident in Nigeria or in diaspora and upholding the sacred principles, rules and procedures of parliamentary democracy.