*Nigerians in diaspora demand apology
By Udora Orizu
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Wase has justified the rejection of petition from Tiv people in America, saying that he was guiding the sponsor of the petition on the proper procedure to adopt in presenting the said petition.
Recall that Wase had at the plenary last week rejected a public petition from Tiv people in America against the federal government on an alleged taking over of their ancestral lands after various attacks from herdsmen that forced them away from their homes, presented by Hon. Mark Gbillah on their behalf.
The Deputy Speaker said Nigerians in Diaspora are not eligible to file petitions against the federal government on issues regarding crimes committed or linked to herdsmen.
Wase justifying the rejection in a statement on Monday, said the coverage and reportage of the incident have mostly been doctored, slanted and bent to give political and ethnic coloration to the event that was otherwise strictly based on rules of parliamentary procedures.
He reiterated that the crux of the encounter between him and Mark Gbillah was on the legal identity and flowing from that, the locus of the petitioners and not on the whether Nigerians in diaspora have a right to petition the House or not.
He said, ”Note that as a rule, every petition must be presented by a sponsor on behalf of an identifiable petitioner who can either be an individual, groups of individuals or registered corporate entity. The House has over the years entertained Petitions from Nigerians in diaspora. However, those petitions were properly presented before the House without any ambiguity as to the identity of the Petitioners or as to their locus and availability to speak to the issues raised in such Petitions.
”Furthermore, in the preceding 8th Assembly, the Deputy Speaker, as part of the Principal Officers of the House (Deputy House Leader), actively supported the passage of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Establishment Bill 2017 which gave birth to the establishment of the current Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCO) headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.”
Meanwhile, Nigerians in Diaspora worldwide, reacting to the petition rejection, have written to the Speaker of the House of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, demanding a retraction of the statement, a public apology from him to Diaspora Nigerians and a representation of the Tiv people petition.
In the petition dated March 14, 2021, jointly signed by Bashir Obasekola for Nigerians in Diaspora Europe; Obed Monago for Nigerians in Diaspora America’s; Prof. E. C. Ejiogu for
Nigerians in Diaspora Asia; Hon. Gary Linus Unamadu for Nigerians in Diaspora Oceania and Obinna Kingsman for Nigerians in Diaspora Africa, they said the Deputy Speaker’s statement has destroyed all the gains made from various engagements between the government and Nigerians in Diaspora in the last 20 years.
They also said the statement has equally cast a doubt in the minds of the Diaspora community as to the genuineness of the government’s intentions towards its citizens abroad.
While seeking for a virtual meeting with the Speaker to reassure them of their rights as Nigerians, the people gave Wase 14 days ultimatum within which to meet their demands or have them withdraw their home remittances.