By Teryima Ajijah
Multiple opinions from highly placed persons and groups have condemned the action of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Ahmed Idris Wase who had refused to accept a petition from his colleague, the member representing Gwer West/Gwer East Federal constituency, Hon. Mark Gbillah. Wase is of the APC while Gbillah is PDP.
One of the strong voices emanated from the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, through a press release, questioning the rationale behind the action of the Deputy Speaker, Wase who had vehemently rejected a petition by Tiv speaking people resident in America. The Diaporan Tiv were in the petition questioning the rationale for land grabbing in Benue State by armed Fulani herdsmen.
The Nigerians in diaspora had issued a 14- day ultimatum to the Deputy Speaker to reverse his decision and accept the petition tabled by the Mutual Union of Tiv persons living in America via Hon Mark Gbillah.
They equally petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President, Rt Hon Ahmed Lawan, to use their offices to prevail on the deputy speaker to tender a public apology to the group and the bearer of the petition, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah,
Similarly, a notable group of media professionals “Middle Belt Journalists Forum, (MBJF)” had called for the recall of the Deputy Speaker.
In a statement jointly signed by the MBJF President, Jonathan Ipaa, JP and MBJF national secretary, Mrs. Oikeke Igado Kure, stressed that the issues at stake are clearly within the purview of violation of fundamental human rights of the petitioners and the presenter of the piece.
The group suggested that the lawmaker, Rt Hon. Wase should step aside from the office of the Deputy Speaker.
It said: “As a beneficiary of democracy which catapulted him into the exalted office of Deputy Speaker, we expect Rt Hon. Wase to tow the line of civility and allow the petition to be heard. By this, the Deputy Speaker would have defended his constituents who are now suffering in the various IDP camps across the zone.
“The question to ask is: “Does it matter the residency status of who draws attention to a crime or injustice?” The posture of the Deputy Speaker as Presiding Officer suggests that he called the shots and determined the petition to be heard irrespective of its merit.”
“His action, to say the least, appears to have encouraged the killer herdsmen, armed bandits and terrorists to sustain their heinous acts against innocent Nigerians in general and the middle belt in particular.
“As a lawmaker of about 16 years at the National Assembly, what was expected of him was to refer the matter to the relevant committee to investigate and report back to the House and not to shut it down.
“This has put to question his sixteen years of legislative experience as a federal lawmaker of his repute.
According to the statement, it is contradictory that Nigeria’s government established the Diaspora Commission and Nigerians elsewhere are making remittances back home, yet, their petition concerning their kindreds back home will be treated with contempt by a lawmaker simply because he had the privilege to preside over the Green Chamber.
It further said the lawmaker from Benue, Rt Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and the IDPs deserve an apology for the manner in which their petition was treated and so also the Internally Displaced Persons littered all over the land and those whose land has been forcefully taken over by these armed herders.
The MBJF emphasized that the continuous occupation of the IDPs land has made them more vulnerable and increased the poverty level in Nigeria as they can no longer go to their farms or carryout their economic activities.
“What we expect from elected representatives and those in government is servant leadership and accountability by fairness, equity and justice.
Even as the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has received the petition, the Middle Belt Journalist Forum are still calling on Ahmed Idris Wase to step aside from the office of the Deputy Speaker and face a possible recall from his angry constituents, to avoid repeat of his embarrasing outing.