The member representing Ethiope West/East constituency, Delta State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ben Igbapka says the Ghanaian government has placed members of the Nigerian National Assembly on the watch-list in response to the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence Day address.
Naija News had reported Buhari as disclosing in his 61st Independence anniversary speech that the arrests of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Igboho have exposed a federal lawmaker as a sponsor of separatist agitation in the country.
“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,” the President had said.
Reacting to this disclosure during plenary on Tuesday, Hon Igbapka came under Order 6 Rule 2 and Section 17 (A) of the Legislative Houses (Powers And Privileges Act 2017, to move a motion that his privileges had been breached by the President’s address.
The lawmaker recounted that a few days ago he was in Ghana to attend a wedding ceremony, but to his surprise, he was detained for four hours based on the allegation made by the President.
According to him, he was informed by the Ghanaian authority that they wanted to make sure that Nigerian lawmakers who had already been tagged as sponsors of terrorism did not come into the country to cause problems.
Igbapka pointed out that by identifying and not naming the member of the National Assembly who was allegedly sponsoring secessionist groups in the country, the President has made all the 469 lawmakers crime suspects.
He stated: “As reported by media houses across the world, President Buhari in his Independence Day speech, told the world that one of us is sponsoring terrorism. IPOB by what it is to the face of the law today is a terrorist organisation, even when we have our reservations, because the laws of the land and courts have spoken. Mr. Speaker, that means that 469 members of this National Assembly are crime suspects.”
“On that fateful day, I went to Akure to be part of the burial ceremony of our fellow colleague, Hon. Expensive. On Saturday, I had to honor an invitation to Ghana for a wedding. Mr. Speaker, it will amaze you what I faced in the hands of Ghanaian officials.
“They detained me for about four hours; that they are trying to confirm something. I stayed at the airport for four hours, missed the wedding I went for. At the end of the day, one of them walked up to me saying sorry sir, there’s an announcement in Nigeria that a member of parliament is sponsoring terrorism and we are put on red alert to ensure that no member of parliament comes here to hide or cause trouble. I had to come back home dejected.”
Igbakpa further stated that he had been inundated with calls from all over the world, asking him who amongst the lawmakers was sponsoring terrorism.
His words, “the right thing for a father to do is to name and shame any child that’s bringing about division. But Mr. President didn’t shame that person or name them instead he named 469 members. Because of the fact that we’ve always cooperated and the fact that Nigeria has a lot to deal with. So, I’m appealing, if not, the right thing to do is to invoke Section 88 of the constitution they can tell us who among us is sponsoring terrorism.
“Section 88 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,…”
He, therefore, appealed to the leadership of the House to liaise with their counterparts in the Senate to have an audience with the President so that he can name sponsor of terrorism amongst the lawmakers.
Igbapka reminded the House of our constitutional responsibilities of lawmaking as enshrined in Section 4 of the 1999 constitution as amended and also reminded the House of the principle of separation of power, meaning no arm of government is superior to the other.
He then demanded that the President should commence the prosecution of the individual and if convicted should have been completely shamed, as it is wrong to throw a blanket accusation on an arm.
In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said Igbapka’s motion is noted, adding that the House would get back to him on the matter.