House of Reps Principal Officers chide colleagues over unruly conduct

Elizabeth AtimeMarch 7, 202414 min

The Principal Officers accused their colleagues of making calls, roaming during plenary sessions, eating, and drinking which are against the House Rules.

Principal Officers of the House of Representatives, including the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), have chided their colleagues over their seeming unruly conduct during plenary sessions.

The Principal Officers accused their colleagues of making calls, walking freely without decorum during plenary sessions, eating and drinking which are against the rules of the House.

Raising a point of order to this effect, the Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) cited Order 9 Rule 9, Subsection 13 of the House Rules which clearly explains the conduct or behaviour of members during plenary sessions or Committee meetings.

“Mr Speaker my point of order is Order 9, Rule 9, Sub-order 13, with your permission I will read, ‘No member other than the principal officers or the chairman Committee on Rules and Business shall approach the Speaker unless invited by the Speaker or shall approach the Speaker when the House is in session but on matters requiring urgent attention of the Speaker. It may be communicated through the Chief Whip’.

“Mr Speaker, this has become a consistent occurrence in the House that while proceedings are on, you rather see members violating Order 9, particularly Rule 9 on issues of behaviour. Either the House is rowdy or members loiter or speak to others or approach presiding officers without the leave of the Chief Whip.

“These are all against the rules and it does not portray us in a good light outside this place that our proceedings are always in camera either live or covered. I think we should look at the provisions of Order 9 Rule 9 to implement,” Rep Chinda declared.

On his part, the Majority Leader of the House, Rep. Julius Ihonvebere (APC, Edo), further accused lawmakers of bringing edible items such as drinks (not specified), water and food into the chamber when proceedings are going on.

“Many of us travel abroad without even informing the Speaker, imagine if you were to find yourself in Ukraine or Gaza and you are held captive. How are we going to intervene or rescue you? People make calls and bring in phones, water and food.

“In fact, they bring in all kinds of things. You can not go through this place (centre of chamber) without bowing to the Mace. People walk in freely without bowing to our Mace and that’s the symbol of authority. Without the symbol here, anything we are doing here is just talk. We must respect it. I want to appeal to our members. Let’s listen to ourselves.

“Let me thank the Minority Leader (Rep. Chinda) for raising this point of order, this is a very important issue. Some of us have been to other parliaments, within and beyond Africa and we know the decorum that members display. That decorum and sense of purpose is what adds to the prestige they enjoy outside,” he stated.

Ruling on the point of order, the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Kalu said it was a privilege that out of millions of Nigerians, 360 members were elected to represent the people.

If Nigerians chose only 360 members, you must reflect that dignity. What you reflect here is a true representation of your people. If you go to Order 9 which is the Order that the Majority and the Minority Leader are giving us here today you go back and read it. It is important that members take note of this because Nigerians are watching us.

“Crossing the floor of the House, you see the Speaker putting a question, no member is supposed to walk out or across the chamber. You do not just stand up and cross anyhow, but here you see the Speaker speaking, and members will be walking up and down. You see some reading newspapers, you see a member speaking to another member or he or she will be interrupting him (Presiding Officer), shouting him down without being recognised. No smoking, no chewing or drinking. I believe that that point of Order that is moved is a good one and it is hereby sustained.”

Elizabeth Atime

One comment

  • Kingsley Umoetuk

    March 8, 2024 at 4:09 pm

    What else does one expect from a house filled mostly with clowns?

    Reply

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