OrderPaperToday – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday called out his fellow rep over indicting comments and alleged false information which he said was capable of bringing disrepute to the green chamber.
The Speaker, at commencement of plenary session, said members had the right to freedom of speech but warned on statements that were capable of maligning the House or the National Assembly as an institution.
Although, the Speaker neither made reference to the comments nor called the names of the defaulting lawmakers, he however said it was a show of disgrace and shame what the unnamed members said.
The Speaker’s outburst may not be unconnected with comments made by Rep. Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia) and Awaji Abiante Nombek (PDP, Rivers) when they both appeared on Channels and African İndependent Television respectively to discuss the electoral act (amendment) bill that was controversially passed yesterday.
According to the Speaker, “members of this, House in exercising their freedom of expression and speech, which is well within their right; but when you exercise this freedom be careful not to mislead the public. Be careful not to malign unjustifiable this institution
“This leadership has allowed people to express their opinions at all times and I have no problem with that but when you begin to call the institution which you are a part of names, unwittingly and even maligning yourself then we need to draw a line, especially when you’re peddling on truth.
“And I just thought it must be important that we mention this so that in future we will be guided by the freedom of expression and also by the truth. It was a show of disgrace as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care what anybody says, the things that were uttered by members of this National Assembly, a show of disgrace. (I am) extremely disappointed”.
Meanwhile, Rep. Abonta apologized, saying his comments were never in any way insinuated or intended to malign the House.
The Abia rep said: “lf I had made statements that didn’t go down well with the institution it wasn’t intended. All we are working for , all we are striving for is to have a lasting document that can guide us. Whatever intentions attributed to it were not intended. We are sorry, if I ridicule parliament that means I will be indirectly ridiculing myself. Without parliament there’s no democracy. I so explain Mr Speaker.”
In his response, Mr. Gbajabiamila said: “I’m sure I speak for the leadership of the House, your apology is accepted. But let me repeat that members should please be very circumspect when they go out in public and express their own personal opinions. Please go ahead and explain your opinion but be circumspect not to drag the house into it. Hon. Abonta you’re one of the highly most respected member of this House, I have a lot of regard for you so I was surprised when I heard the things you were saying. But your apology is accepted.”