The attention of the MiddleBelt Journalists Forum, MBJF, has been drawn to the manner the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Ahmed Idris Wase dismissed a petition seeking to draw the attention of the lawmakers to the plight of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in Benue State and other states within the Middle Belt.
The petition by a group of concern Nigerians residence in the United States of America from Benue State had sought to highlight the plight of IDPs and the continue illegal and unconstitutional occupation of their ancestral lands by their attackers. The situation in Benue is similar to many places in the Middle Belt including Plateau State from where the Deputy Speaker hails from.
The issues at stake are clearly within the purview of violation of fundamental human rights. As a beneficiary of democracy which catapulted him into the exalted Office of Deputy Speaker, we expect Rt Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase to tow the line of civility and to have allowed the petition to be heard. By this, the Deputy Speaker would have defended his constituents who are now suffering in the various IDP camps across the zone.
The question to ask is: “Does it matter the residency status of who draws attention to a crime or injustice?” The posture of the Deputy Speaker as Presiding Officer suggests that he calls the shots and determined the petition to be heard irrespective of its merit. His action to say the least, appears to have encouraged the killer herdsmen, armed bandits and terrorists to sustain their heinous acts against innocent Nigerians in general and the middle belt in particular. As a lawmaker of about 16 years at the National Assembly, what was expected of him was to refer the matter to the relevant committee to investigate and report back to the House and not to shot it down.
This has put to question his sixteen years of legislative experience as a federal lawmaker of his repute. It is contradictory that Nigeria’s government established the Diaspora Commission and Nigerians elsewhere are making remittances back home, yet, their petition concerning their kindred back home will be treated with contempt by a lawmaker simply because he had the privilege to preside over the Green Chamber.
The lawmaker from Benue, Rt Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and the IDPs deserve an apology for the manner in which their petition was treated and so also the Internally Displaced Persons littered all over the land and those whose land have been forcefully taken over by these armed herders. The continous occupation of the IDPs land has made them more vulnerable and increased the poverty level in Nigeria as they can no longer go to their farm. What we expect from elected representatives and those in government is servant leadership and accountability by fairness, equity and justice. We call on Ahmed Idris Wase to step aside from the office of the Deputy Speaker and face a possible recall from his angry constituents.
Signed: Jonathan IPAA, JP President
Mrs Oikeke Igado Kure National Secretary