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Reps In Rowdy Session Over Deployment Of Soldiers For Elections

Nigeria's Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – The consideration of the report on whether President Goodluck Jonathan has the right to deploy military for election was on Wednesday resulted in a rowdy session in the House of Representatives.

As a result, aggrieved All People Congress members staged a walk out of the chamber in protest.

The atmosphere became charged when the chairman of the ad hoc committee mandated to look into the merit or otherwise of the deployment of military, Hon Albert Sam-Tsokwa read the report.

APC members said that their action of staging a walkout was in protest of the way and manner the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha presided over plenary.

Trouble started when the presiding officer, Emeka Ihedioha disregarded point of order raised by the minority leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and urged the Chairman of the adhoc committee, Sam-Tsokwa to proceed with his submission.

Hon Gbajabiamilla had earlier raised the motion on the need for the House of Representatives to investigate the unconstitutional deployment of Military personnel for election.

Gbajabiamilla had brought the motion before the House last week following which the Speaker Aminu Tambuwal directed three committees to look into the matter and advice the House accordingly.

Hon Tsokwa while presenting the motion advised the House against debating the motion as it was a subject of litigation in court.

According to him, “the motion cannot be heard by the House based on constitutional grounds on issues bothering on Presidential powers in the determination of operational use of the military”.

Hon Tsokwa report sent emotions running high with tempers flaring as the rowdiness was further accentuated when the Speaker; having listened to the report attempted to rule without giving any right of reply to the mover of the motion.

Hon. Gbajabiamila sensing the dimension of the proceeding rose to counter Sam Tsokwa, saying that the report went beyond its terms of reference albeit failing to address the concern of the point of order raised by Hon. Karimi Sunday which bothers on subjudice.

When normalcy returns, Ihedioha went ahead to rule by sustaining the point of order raised by Hon. Karimi thereby necessitating another point of order by Hon. Gbajabiamila.

In his point of order, he noted that the report read by Sam Tsokwa never stated whether the matter is in court as alleged by Hon. Karimi in his point of order, and as such, the order cannot be sustained.

In an effort to bring calmness back to the chamber, Ihedioha informed Hon. Femi that he had already ruled on the matter and cannot revisit it; as such a move would be unconventional, saying that the matter had been ruled upon, and the House must move forward.

The speaker’s ruling further infuriated members of the opposition who rose up in protest insisting that “the matter must not be swept under the carpet as usual”.

The Minority Whip, Samson Osagie who almost engaged the Majority Whip, Hon. Ishaka Bawa in a fist-cuff appealed to Hon Gbajabiamila to back down.

While the argument ensued, the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor rose to the defense of the chair, noting that ”the authority of the Speaker must be respected irrespective of who sits on the chair.

According to him, “Mr. Speaker, my dear colleagues, when matters are discussed in this House, it is important that members respect the sanctity of the office of the Speaker who is the presiding officer”.

Briefing the press after staging a walkout, . Gbajabiamila explained that the House had once again witnessed a lopsided and highly partisan conduct of the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha who would allow Sam Tsokwa to debate his (Gbajabiamila) motion in the name of presentation of report.

He said, “Today, we see another subversion of parliamentary procedures given the kind of Deputy Speaker that we have in this country by allowing another person to debate my motion for me.”

He said, “Yesterday (Tuesday), we also saw how he allowed a member to present a motion that was actually sponsored by another member who was not on the floor. He would have allowed it pass if not for our steadfastness on that matter”.

He said, “This is the first time in the history of this democracy that we will have a highly parochial and partisan Deputy Speaker as a presiding officer who sees him more as a Deputy Speaker of a political party when we have a Speaker who sees himself as Speaker of the federal Republic of Nigeria”.

“For him to try to sustain a point of order which was not justified due to lack of evidence just because he wants the motion to die is highly preposterous.

“Respect begets respect. I cannot respect a presiding officer who does not respect himself in matters of national importance. And I’m assuring all of you that – that motion will not die”, he said.

House leader Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP, Oyo) while given insight to what transpired on the floor said that the action of APC was uncalled for.

She said that what the APC members did by staging a walk out was unparliamentary, adding that they cannot win every time, in the parliament, decisions may not always go your way. But as legislators, “we must learn to respect the rules at all times”.


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