Sunday Okobi in Lagos and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Tiv people in the United States of America (USA) have decried what they described as the neglect and humiliating treatment allegedly given to their petition by the House of Representatives leadership, adding that their petition on the condition of their people in Benue State was allegedly rejected recently.
The people under the umbrella of Mutual Union of Tiv in America (MUTA) stated that the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, recently dismissed Hon. Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East federal constituency of Benue State, when the later attempted to present a petition to the House on behalf of the Tiv people.
Wase had stated that Nigerians abroad are not eligible to file petitions against the federal government on issues regarding crimes linked to herdsmen.
Wase who stood in for Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, during last Thursday’s plenary, rejected a petition filed by MUTA on insecurity in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba states.
In a statement issued and made available to THISDAY yesterday by MUTA President, Mr. Simon Kusugh, and MUTA IDP Committee Chairman, Professor Joseph Zume, the group viewed the Deputy Speaker’s action as “highly reprehensible, given that the subject of our petition addressed the fate of thousands of authentic Nigerian citizens who have been displaced from their communities for years.
“As national representatives of Nigerians, the honorable members should ordinarily be expected to empathise with those hapless citizens they represent, whose normal livelihoods have been truncated by unfortunate circumstances. Obviously, that was not indicated as no member present attempted to persuade the Deputy Speaker to allow Gbillah present our petition.”
According to the statement, “As Tiv people of Nigeria living in America, we are rightful stakeholders in the affairs of Nigeria, especially issues that directly impact the lives of our kith and kin. As far as the petition we sent to Gbillah goes, many of us have relatives who were either killed or displaced by the violence that was unleashed on our communities.
“We continue to bear the financial burdens of supporting our relatives at home, many of whom are now languishing in IDP camps. Many of us have not been able to visit our communities over these years because of the continuing insecurity in those communities. Therefore, we insist that the House of Representatives hear our petition, despite the Deputy Speaker’s personal misgivings.”
The group noted that it viewed the incident hostile to their cause, “to be an extension of the general insensitivity that the national leadership has shown about the welfare of our internally displaced brothers and sisters over these many years.
“That leaders show such disdain for citizens’ concerns may be a reason for the raging violence in every part of Nigeria that is fast turning the country into ungovernable territory. The situation could have been different if the leadership had paid attention to citizen’s concerns from the beginning”.