By Levinus Nwabughiogu, ABUJA
The House of Representatives, Tuesday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to name and prosecute the lawmaker identified as sponsor of secessionists in the country.
The lawmakers said by identifying and not naming the member of the National Assembly allegedly sponsoring secessionist groups in the country, President Buhari had made all the 469 lawmakers suspects.
Recall that Buhari, in his speech to mark the 61st Independence Day anniversary of Nigeria, said that the government has identified sponsors of the secessionist groups and their leaders among whom is a member of the National Assembly. Read the story HERE, HERE and HERE.
Buhari had said: “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.”
Matter of Privilege
However, rising under matters of privilege at Tuesday’s plenary, the member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State, Ben Rollands Igbakpa, said that his privilege has been breached by the President’s address.
He said: “The President, in his speech, noted that 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.
The section reads: “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.”
No Debate, Gbaja rules
Igbakpa also prayed the House leadership to liaise with its Senate counterpart 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.