Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, has said Nigerians in diaspora have no right to send petitions to the lower chamber on issues of insecurity in Nigeria.
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Wase stated that they cannot complain about insecurity since they do not live in the country.
The deputy speaker, who represents Wase Federal Constituency in Plateau State, said this at plenary last Thursday, while sitting in for the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
He said Nigerians who sit in their comfort zones abroad are not eligible to file petitions against the Federal Government on issues of insecurity.
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Wase spoke when a lawmaker, Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East-Gwer West constituency in Benue, attempted to submit a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv in Amerika (MUTA), a group in the United States, on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States.
Gbillah had explained that he was submitting the petition on behalf of MUTA, because indigenes of the affected states have been sacked from their ancestral lands.
Before he could go further, however, Wase said:
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“Honourable Gbillah, did you say Tivs in America? What do they know about Nigeria?
“What is their business? They can’t sit in their comfort zones and know what is happening in Nigeria.”
The deputy speaker argued that Nigerians abroad have no rights to file a petition on the situation in the country, stating that it would be understandable “if this petition is coming from those who are within the country.”
Gbillah noted that Nigerians abroad should be able to file complaints because they have family members residing in the country.
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Wase quickly countered by asking if MUTA was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
But Gbillah responded by saying Section 40 of the constitution does not stop citizens from freedom of association.
Gbillah stated that Nigeria has been pursuing a policy of inclusiveness for its citizens in the diaspora, a gesture he said would easily be defeated if the same category of Nigerians cannot be allowed to speak on raging matters of national concern.
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“I’ll refer you to the functions of the committee on Diaspora, if you go through that, it is nothing relevant to what you’re now presenting, I’m not convinced that we have to take that petition,” Wase stressed.
Gbillah’s petition was subsequently rejected without any opposition from any member of the house.