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Slaps As Human Rights

NOT many would have known Honourable Chinyere Igwe, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights, until he slapped his way to fame last week.

The crown for the first slap at the National Assembly belongs to Distinguished Senator Isa Mohammed who in October 2004 unleashed his fury on Distinguished Senator Iyabo Anisulowo. Mohammed took exceptions to how Mrs. Anisulowo managed the affairs of the Committee on States and Local Governments. The matter was resolved amicably, privately. Women groups that thought their gender was assaulted did not wait for too long for revenge.

Within weeks, Honourable Iquo Minima, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, hit prominence with her slaps on Committee Chairman Honourable Emmanuel Bwacha for alleged uncomplimentary remarks against her. Honourable Bwacha was too stunned, he accepted the slaps with equanimity.

Scuffles appeared to have ended at the National Assembly with the death of Honourable Aminu Shuaibu Safana, a former Commissioner for Health in Katsina State, a staunch supporter of former Speaker Patricia Olubunmi Etteh. Dr. Safana’s death, two years ago, was the crowning shame of months of fist-cuts, and full-blown boxing bouts as opposing parties contested the Speaker’s seat.

Mrs. Etteh’s opponent wanted her out over contracts on her official residence and official cars. Dr. Safana died some distance from free flying blows, supplemented with chairs and any objects handy. The official medical report stated he died from heart attack, doubtlessly induced by the intensity of the fray he beheld and maybe his hectic flight to safety.

After two years of mourning Dr. Safana, the House of Representatives may be back to its slapping ways. On September 9 when Honourable Igwe made his way to the Slapping Hall of Fame, he chose a soft target, Mr. Chinelo Nwulu, a security staff of the National Assembly.

Mr. Nwulu angered Honourable Igwe when he asked an Honourable Member of the House of Representatives – there are only 360 of them from a population of 140 million people – to identify himself. Mr. Nwulu got a fair share of Honourable Igwe’s idea of human rights with the slaps.

It was an affront from an ordinary security man to ask Honourable Igwe to identify himself. It was bad enough the security man failed in his duties by not remembering only 469 faces, if you include 109 Senators.

Honourable Igwe, in addition to his regular legislative duties is supposed to promote human rights. His treatment of Mr. Nwulu strongly indicates that there are classes of Nigerians who Honourable Igwe believes do not have rights, or who have inhuman rights. They are fit for slaps, kicks, vile language to mark their sub humanity.

Elsewhere, Honourable Igwe would not have dared lift a finger on Mr. Nwulu who would have sued him. A misconduct of this manner would have shut doors on Honourable Igwe. Here, the House of Representatives would defend him or at best maintain a studied silence on his dishonourable conduct.


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