Shiites: Don’t Create Another Boko Haram, House Tells FG

  • To investigate alleged job racketeering in govt agencies

Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

The House of Representatives has advised the federal government to urgently engage the Shiite group otherwise known as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in order to amicably resolve their grievances with a view to avoiding a repeat of what gave birth to the Boko Haram crisis, which the country is currently battling to curtail.

The advice followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance moved by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu on Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly by members of the Shiite movement which left nine police officers injured and several valuables destroyed.

This is coming as the House wednesday constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate and monitor the recruitment activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government.

In his prayers, Elumelu had, among other things, called for a thorough assessment of the internal security of the National Assembly, compensation for officers who were affected and hospitalised during the invasion.

He also moved that committees on Police Affairs and Internal Security should ascertain if security officers attached to the assembly are insured against occurrences such as what happened on Tuesday and if not to include them under group personnel accident scheme and workmen compensation.

In their various contributions to the debate, the lawmakers tasked the government to handle the situation with seriousness and prevent it from escalating as the Boko Haram crisis.

Speaking against the background of his experience in the emergence of the Boko Haram crisis, the Chief Whip, Hon Mohammed Monguno, representing Jere Federal Constituency, Borno State, said: “There are danger signals coming from the present crisis of the Shiite sect going about clamouring for the freedom of their leader.”

“Those of us that are coming from Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency can vividly recall that the Boko Haram crisis started the same way the Shiite sect are now masquerading themselves in all the nooks and crannies of not only Abuja but all over the country in the name of marching for the freedom of their leader.

“There is need to nip this crisis in the bud so that it will not snowball into full-blown bloody crisis that is going to affect the whole country,” he said.

In his contributions, Hon. Bamidele Salam representing Ede North, Ede South, Egbedore and Ejigbo Federal Constituency, Osun State, also urged the government to be very futuristic about the Shiite matter and “address the root cause of this brewing insurgence.”

According to Salam, “the man, El-Zakzaky whose freedom they are asking for, what we have in the public space; he is being held against several pronouncements of competent courts of jurisdiction in Nigeria.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I want to urge the federal government to please dispassionately look into the matter of this leader of the religious group and allow the rule of law to take its course while not condoning any act of violence,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Hon. Onofiuk Luke representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency, who raised a point of order premised on Section 4(1) (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, said the debate on the Shiite invasion of the National Assembly should not be narrowed down to when the members of the legislature are threatened.

He said: “It is very paramount that we must call a spade a spade. There is a rule of law and we must look at that rule of law. We must look at the root cause of that movement. If the court has given an order that the leader of that movement should be released, I think we should ask the federal government to act accordingly so that things must be done properly.

“So, I am appealing that on this issue, we should not only think of preserving only the sanctity of the premises, the chambers or the members of this legislative house. We should look at how to address this problem so that other Nigerians in other cities like Kaduna, in the city of Abuja, away from the National Assembly are protected,” he submitted.

Dachung Musa Bagos representing Jos South/Jos East federal constituency, Plateau State also expressed fears that if the issue is not addressed with seriousness by the government, the lawmakers might one day run for their lives leaving the mace, which is the symbol of authority.

“The federal government should rise to see that the issue of the Shiite group is treated with all seriousness because so far as far as I am concerned it has been treated with levity. We need to see how this issue will be treated as a national issue, because if we are not careful another Boko Haram will rise from another angle,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives wednesday constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate and monitor the recruitment activities of the MDAs of the federal government.

The House ad-hoc committee chaired by Hon. Wole Oke, representing Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency, Osun State, was set up to investigate allegation of job racketeering raised in the motion of ‘’urgent national importance’’ by Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi — representing Panshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency, Plateau State.

He noted that despite the fact that the federal civil service, the public service and the public sector are the single biggest employers of labour in Nigeria and account for the funding of most homes in Nigeria directly and indirectly, Nigerians are not getting jobs based on merit.

According to Gagdi, “numerous reports have indicated that the Federal Character Principles are not always followed, adding that these openings are not always filled competitively, rather, they are always filled based on certain social, political, ethnic or religious sentiments.

“If urgent steps are not taken to investigate and monitor these recruitments, it could result in poor output and performance in the civil and public service, arising from the sentiments that may lead to unqualified and poorly motivated workforce.

“Being the biggest employer of labour in Nigeria, numerous Nigerians look forward to obtaining gainful employment with the federal government. Consequently, millions of candidates fill the federal civil service forms with the hope that they will be lucky to be called upon or recruited.

“Though the federal government lacks the capacity to employ most of these number of candidates, however, there is the need for the few openings available to be filled competitively and based on the federal character principles enshrined in the constitution”, he explained.