The House of Representatives on Wednesday shot down a motion to reverse President Buhari’s Executive Order prohibiting the issuance of licenses for fire arms by the police in Nigeria.
The sponsor of the motion, Rep. Uzoma Nkem Abonta (PDP- Abia), failed to present the motion on notice when the public address system went off just after the Speaker had introduced it.
The lawmaker, however pressed to be heard, when the House Leader, Rep. Alhassan Doguwa (APC-Kano), interjected saying the motion was “dead on arrival”, because according to him, it was an unpopular subject.
The motion was entitled “Need to Reverse the Executive Order and Police Directive banning Possession and Issuance of New Licenses for Firearms in the Country”.
Sensing a strong swell of opposition to the motion, Abonta appealed to the speaker to allow him step it down for next week Tuesday. However, the Speaker urged Abonta to go ahead and take the motion since the public address system had been restored, or withdraw it altogether so as not to waste legislative time.
Gbajabiamila told Abonta that listing the motion for Tuesday could jeopardize the chances of other items making the order paper, adding that “so many issues are pending and in need of attention”.
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At this point, Rep. Ahmad Jaha (APC-Borno), raised a point of order on matters of privilege saying that Abonta had 3 options available to him:
i. to take the motion already listed on the order paper;
ii. to step it down for further legislative consultation beyond Tuesday next week; and
iii. to withdraw it totally having developed cold feet in the ability of the motion to sail through.
In his intervention, Fred Agbedi (PDP- Bayelsa), accused the House leader, Doguwa of initiating the ill will against the piece of legislation.
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He said: “The leader of the House is a well respected member of this House because he’s the leader of every member of this House, and whatever he says has about 70 to 80% influence on the thinking of other members.
So when he makes a negative comment about a motion, it sends jitters down the spines of others that there’s a problem, and we as members would not expect certain comments from the person of the House leader.”
“Hon Abonta as a member is entitled to protection by the speaker and we appeal that in the spirit of that privilege, the speaker is urged to allow him step his motion down because this is a privilege we all enjoy as members and he as a mover of a motion reserves the right to go ahead with it or step it down by the leave of the House”, Agbedi argued.
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At this point, the Speaker called on Doguwa to respond with him saying:
“My name has been repeatedly mentioned by other members, and let me say that aside being a leader, I’m first of all a member of this House.”
“Let it also be known that what I said about this motion was a personal opinion and I, as a person do not have anything against Hon Abonta, because he’s one man whom I’ve known as a family friend for over 20 years, as we both worked under one person, the former president of the Senate, Adolphus Wagbara, and I’ve had course to travel to the East where I spent three good days in his (Abonta’s) house.
“So we have come a long way and I respect him not only as an experienced lawmaker but also as a friend. But my position remains a personal opinion which I’m entitled to as an individual, irrespective of my position as the leader of this House, and it remains the same.
“It’s either he moves the motion for it to be killed now or he withdraws it,” Doguwa maintained.
Gbajabiamila, at this point reacted that he speaks” for all members irrespective of party and that the work of the House is for the benefit if all Nigerians”.
“Let me say that as speaker my mantra remains ‘Nation Building a Joint Task’ and that’s why I speak for every member of this House irrespective of party, so when you said I’m speaker of every member and should protect all, I just needed to make that point.”
“And on this matter, my position is very clear and Hon Abonta knows what my position is, but for the purpose of record, I’ve allowed almost everyone who wished to speak on this matter to voice their opinions.
Hon. Abonta has spoken 4 times on this and many others have done same, but the bottom line remains that the rule is what it is, and we will apply it accordingly.
So I’ll allow Hon Abonta to apply for he stepping down of the motion as appealed for further legislative consultation”, the speaker ruled.