Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase, has denied blocking a petition from Nigerians in the diaspora, stating that the video which had gone viral on social media showing him doing so was doctored.
The deputy speaker also disclosed that he was only concerned about the legal status of the group submitting the petition.
Wase, in a statement by his spokesman, Umar Puma, on Monday, made the denial.
He stated that “Let it be categorically stated that the coverage and reportage of the incident has mostly been doctored, slanted and bent to give political and ethnic coloration to an event that was otherwise strictly based on the rules of parliamentary procedure.”
“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.
“Note 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.”
Wase added that while the house has in the past entertained petitions, those submitted 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 reiterates 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 the diaspora; while also upholding the sacred principles, rules and procedures of parliamentary,” the statement added.
Recall that the law maker, who was sitting in for the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had, last week, prevented a federal lawmaker from Benue State, Mark Gbilla, from presenting a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv Amerika on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba.
The Deputy Speaker, who hails from Plateau State, responded that people who do not live in Nigeria should not be submitting petitions on issues in Nigeria.
He also stated that the group, MUTA, a community of Tiv students worldwide, which submitted the petition, was not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.