Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, has said Nigerians who “sit in their comfort zones” abroad are not eligible to file petitions against the federal government on issues regarding violent crimes committed with links to herdsmen.
Mr. Wase who sat in for Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, rejected a petition filed by Mzough U Tiv Amerika (MUTA) on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba, Peoples Gazette reports.
The petition, which was presented by Mark Gbillah from Gwer East/Gwer West, accused the Nigerian government of nonchalance towards the perils facing those who have been displaced as a result of killer herdsmen activities.
Tens of thousands of Nigerians who were displaced by killer herdsmen in central Nigeria have not been able to return to their villages, a situation that has elicited humanitarian concerns from Nigerians around the world.
The Deputy Speaker, while responding, argued that Nigerians abroad have no rights to file a petition on the crisis, stating that it would be understandable “if this petition is coming from those who are within the country.”
Mr. Wase questioned how people living in America are aware of happenings in Nigeria, saying; “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.”
In response, Mr. Gbillah argued that Nigerians abroad should be able to file complaints because they have family members residing in the state.
The Benue lawmaker also maintained that “some of them are just studying, some just went they to do courses and they’re a union and are Nigerian citizens,” he said just as he referenced section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution that does not stop citizens from freedom of association.
But the Deputy Speaker questioned whether or not MUTA was even registered with the Corporate Affairs of Commission to begin with.
Mr. Gbillah, however, countered Mr. Wase on the grounds that Nigeria has been pursuing a policy of inclusiveness for its citizens in the Diaspora, an aim that would easily be defeated if the same category of Nigerians cannot be allowed to speak on raging matters of national concern.
“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,” Mr. Wase said.