Obahiagbon Escapes Suspension Over Stand On Controversial Electoral Act

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, Nov 23, (THEWILL) - An outspoken member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon today nearly got suspended from the parliament for kicking against the controversial amendment included the Electoral Act.

The proposed ‘toxic’ amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act is being sponsored by Honourables C.I.D. Maduabum (PDP, Anambra) and Igo Aguma (PDP, Rivers).

But for the intervention of Speaker Dimeji BANKOLE, Obahiagbon would have been sanctioned following his utterances at a press briefing in Abuja last week, in which he carpeted sponsors of the amendment saying they were ‘legislative tyrants.’ Attempts to suspend Obahiagbon from the chambers followed a point of order at today’s plenary of the House by Hon. Igochukwu Aguma.

Aguma, who said his privileges were being infringed upon by Obahiagbon, cited Order 5 Rule 1 of the House of Representatives’ Standing Rules and sections of the Legislative Houses Privileges Act to buttress his point. According to Aguma, Obahiagbon had during a media briefing at the National Assembly and on an African International Television (AIT) programme, referred to his colleagues as ‘rascals’ adding that the privileges of the House and the Speaker had been breached.

He prayed the Speaker to mandate the House Committee Ethics and Privileges Committee to investigate the matter and recommend appropriate measures. At this point, the Speaker invited the lawmaker to present his defence to the allegations. He also appealed to the lawmakers, who were visibly angry for understanding.

Obahiagbon in his defence denied calling his colleagues ‘rascals’ but explained that he had only called on the National Assembly to take a second look at the proposed amendment in view of the condemnation it generated in the public domain affirming that what he said was (quoting from the text of the press conference) “it would amount to legislative rascality, if it goes ahead with the amendment.”

Although, he denied calling them rascals, Obahiagbon was compelled to withdraw his statement and tender an apology after repeated persuasions by the Speaker. The Speaker thereafter hit the gavel signaling his ruling.

But apparently dissatisfied with Bankole’s ruling on the matter, another principal co-sponsor of the controversial bill, Hon. Cyril Maduabum raised another point of order, attacking Obahiagbon accusing him of calling on Nigerians “to rise up in arms against the National Assembly,” if it did not drop the amendment bill. Maduabum told the House that: “I listened to Patrick Obahiagbon on AIT’s Focus Nigeria where he openly called on Nigerians to rise up in arms against the National Assembly. He was inciting Nigerians to cause violence. Is it because he thinks he can speak English?

“My privilege was breached, and Obahiagbon should be held responsible for anything that happens to me and my children,” Maduabum stated.

However, Bankole refused to bulge and concluded by saying: “Most of us here have decided to choose this lawmaking as business and I can understand the passion you have demonstrated. But I urge you take this as part of hazards of this job. Honourable Obahiagbon has made the unfortunate comments but we should not give unnecessary attention to statements that don’t mean much after today,” he said, urging members to lay down the issue in order to move the country forward.