…challenge President to name, prosecute “identified” sponsors
…to meet with Senate leadership on issue
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
By identifying and not naming the member of the National Assembly who is allegedly sponsoring secessionist groups in the country, President Buhari has made all the 469 lawmakers suspects, the House of Representatives said on Tuesday.
Recall that Buhari in his speech to mark the 61st Independence anniversary of Nigeria said that the government has identified sponsors of the secessionist groups and their leaders among whom was a member of the National Assembly.
“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly”, Buhari had said.
But rising under matters of privilege at Tuesday plenary, the member representing Ethope Federal Constituency of Delta State, Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa said that his privilege has been breached by the President address.
Igbakpa said that he had been inundated with calls by people from all walks of life, asking him to explain how the national parliament of Nigeria to which he belonged has metamorphosed into a home of terrorism sponsors.
He said that the calls and enquires had made it necessary to bare his mind on the issue.
“The President’s speech said one of us is sponsoring terrorism. That means we are prime suspects. He didn’t name that person.
“They have been calling me from all over the world. My friends have been saying who among you is sponsoring terrorists? All of us are prime suspects.”
Igbakpa noted that he was a proud member of the parliament and shouldn’t be made jest of on the account of the President’s allegation.”
He urged the House to prevail on the President to name the sponsors and prosecute them accordingly.
According to him, the National Assembly would have otherwise invoked section 88 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) to get to the root of the matter.
For emphasis sake, section 88 reads thus: “88. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into -(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and
(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for (i) executing or administering
laws enacted by National
Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National
Assembly. (2) The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to –
(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and
(b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.”
Igbakpa also prayed the House leadership to liaise with its Senate counter-part to meet with the President on the issue.
Responding, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said the matter had been noted, adding that the leadership will get back to the lawmaker.
“Thank you Hon. Ben, your privilege is noted and we will get back to you on that”, Gbajabiamila said.
Just then, an unidentified voice from the floor intoned “This is serious?”
Reacting to the voice, Gbajabiamila said the issue was not to be debated.
“What is serious? He came under matters of privilege and it is not to be debated”, he said and hit the gavel.