.â€¦sue for peace and unity
ByÂ Luka Binniyat
The House of Representatives Tuesday voted out a motion seeking to condemn recent utterances in the mass media attributed to the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof, Dora Akunyili, toÂ mean that the Green Chamber saw nothing wrong with her condemnation of a cabal, which she had kept saying, was lying about the health of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
However, after a two and half hours close door session, the House came out with mild resolution, saying, â€œthe House of Representatives having reviewed the state of the nation resolved to concentrateÂ only onÂ those things that will encourage the peace, unity, stability and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeriaâ€
Before then, a motion by Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon (PDP/Edo) seeking to condemn the deployment of troops thatÂ received President Yarâ€™Adua last Wednesday was stood down, amidst protest by members.
Also, a motion by Hon. Samuel Sejoro (AC/Lagos) asking that all persons denying Nigerian officials from seeing the President should be brought to book, was disallowed by the Speaker but, also, amidst protest by majority of members.
When proceedings were stalled for about 11 minutes as a result of angry murmuring on the floor, Bankole, said, â€œI have no choice than to call for an executive sessionâ€, around 11.41 am.
Thus, the gallery was cleared of the Press and Assembly Staff.
Signs that the Today’s (Tuesday) session would not be ordinary showed when some members told the Press last Monday, that about 170 of them would move to insist that those holding the President â€œcaptiveâ€Â must be forced to free him for the Nigerian people to see.
But, at the beginning of Plenary, Hon. Mayor Eze (PDP/Imo) raised a Point-of-order bordering on Matter of Urgent National Importance from Oder 8 of the House Rule.
â€œMr. Speaker, in the past few days, the Press has been awash with unguarded, uncouth utterances by the Minister of Communication, saying that a cabal has hijacked the Presidentâ€, he said, â€œMr Speaker, this â€¦.â€. The Speaker cut him short, and asked him toâ€ approach the chairâ€, or the platform where the Speaker seats.
The Speaker whisperedÂ something intoÂ Ezeâ€™s ear for about a minute. Eze, nodded approvingly several times, turned and walked back to his seat.
That cause some grudging noises in the Green Chamber as members started conferring on each other.
After about 5 minutes, the Speaker called the House to order.
â€œNow, Hon. Ezeâ€, said the Speaker, â€œyou may need to proceedâ€
This time, Eze was less forceful in delivery.
â€œMy colleaguesâ€, he said, â€œI want us to know that any utterance that would heat up the polity should not be encouragedâ€, he said.
â€œWe have passed a resolution empowering the Acting President to assume executive powers as commander-in-Chiefâ€, he said. â€œNo one has stopped him from working, and as such, for any Minister to keep adding tension by her utterances, sheÂ should be condemned by the Houseâ€, he argued.
When the Peaker but the matter into vote, those against Eze, where clearly in the majority. Thus the Speaker ruled in favour of the opposition, to signal the beginning of what looked like a rebellion at Tuesdayâ€™s plenary session.
But, hardly had he brought down the gavel, than another member called out, â€œPoint-of-order, Mr. Speakerâ€
When recongnised, it turned out to be Hon. Patrck Obahiagbon
The Reps hinged his point-of-order on Rule 5 of the House Rule.
He said that his privilege as a Nigerian and as Federal Legislature has been breached by what happened at the Nnamdi Azikwe Internationa Airport last Wednesday night.
â€œThis House passed a resolution which made the Vice President of this country Acting President and commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed forcesâ€, he said.
â€œBut, when our ailing President was brought in into the country from Saudi Arabia, there was massive deployment of troops, all with no consultation, or with the authority of the c-in-câ€, he went on, â€œMr Speaker, this is a breach of section 288(1) and section 8 of the Armed Forces Actâ€, he said. â€œI therefore want â€¦â€ at this point the Speaker cut him short.
â€œHon. Obahiagbon, please can you approach the Chair?â€.
There was some protest from some members, but all the same, Obabiagbon, went up and met the Speaker.
After about two minutes of what looked like an argument between the two men, Hon. Obabiagbon, madeÂ his way back to his seat and sat down quietly.
This caused some disquiet in the chamber as some members left their seats to tÃªte-Ã -tÃªteÂ on the issue.
After about five minutes, the Speaker again called the House to order.
An interesting development then ensued.
â€œNow, Hon. Patrickâ€, the Speaker said, â€œdo you want to continue with your point-of-order?â€ he asked.
â€œNo, Mr. Speakerâ€, he said, â€œI want to defer to the Chairâ€, he said.
This invoked loud exclamations from the floor.
â€œNo, you donâ€™t have to refer to me pleaseâ€¦â€, but he was cut short by a loud shout of â€œpoint-of-order, Mr. Speakerâ€
Without even getting the nod, Hon. Samuel Sejoro (AC/Lagos) started.
â€œMr Speaker, last Wednesday night, the President of this country was smuggled into this country like a ghost in the nightâ€, he said.
â€œMy President, I heard, he is being detained against his wish and that of the Nigerian peopleâ€, he went on.
But, the Speaker kept calling him to approach the chair, callsÂ he ignored.
â€œI want this House to invite Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua and all those detaining the President to appear before this House and explain why they are breaching section 308 of the constitution of Nigeriaâ€, he said.
â€œHon. Sejoro, please approach the Chairâ€, the Speaker hammered.
In a rather hilarious reply, Hon. Sejoro, said, â€œMr Speaker, I am not approaching any Chairâ€, which led many members into laughter, as Sejoro took his seat, in what looked like a planned rebellion against the Speakerâ€™s stand on Yarâ€™Adua.
There were many more calling on points-of-order all at the same time. This stalled proceedings for about ten minutes.
â€œI am left with no choice than to call for an executive sessionâ€,Â said, Bankole, â€œplease clear the galleryâ€, he ordered.
The Reps emerged after two and half hours to announce the resolution of the House through the Leader of the Reps, Hon. Tunde Akogun (PDP/Edo).
â€œThe House of Representatives having reviewed the state of the nationâ€, he said, â€œresolve to concentrate on only those things that will encourage peace, unity, stability and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.â€
But, not all members were satisfied.