Latest posts
Home / Nigeria News / Legislative lawlessness in Nigeria’s National Assembly

Legislative lawlessness in Nigeria’s National Assembly

CITIZEN Chinalu Nwulu, a security aide at the National Assembly, reportedly had a raw deal at the hands of one of the assembly members he was employed to protect.

His offence was that he dared to ask Honourable Chinyere Igwe to identify himself before gaining entrance into the National Assembly complex.

 The legislator, who would have none of that, allegedly slapped and rough-handled the hapless security man, and in the process, he lost two buttons from his shirt. Eyewitnesses confirmed that but for the quick intervention of some members of the National Assembly and the colleagues of the security guard, the show of shame would have assumed a more violent dimension.

THE honourable member at the centre of the fracas was allegedly very combative. He probably felt slighted and enraged that the security man could not recognise him.

 But there are 360 members and 109 senators in the National Assembly; a situation that may make it a bit difficult for security men to know every member.

THE situation was not helped by the fact that the assaulted securityman was new and the honourable member on this particular occasion, was reported not to have dressed properly. The combination of these facts probably warranted the insistence of the security staff member that Igwe should identify himself.

THE Sergeant-at-Arms of the National Assembly, Colonel Emeka Okere (rtd.), who is the boss of the battered employee, was reported to have taken up the matter with the leadership of the House of Representatives.

He had reportedly led some police officers attached to the assembly to the speaker’s office to lodge a complaint on Igwe’s conduct.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, was said to have calmed the Sergeant-at-Arms and directed him to write a formal protest letter on the matter to his office.

SOMEHOW, the National Assembly would appear to always have some members who are quick to anger and resort to physical combat at the slightest provocation. In November 2004, Ms. Iqua Minima, who was then the House Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Police Affairs, assaulted Honourable Emmanuel Bwacha,the then chairman of the committee, over a minor disagreement.

A few days earlier, Senator Isa Mohammed had thrown decorum to the winds when he slapped a female colleague, Iyabo Anisulowo, at the lobby of the National Assembly.

ALSO, during the crisis that led to the ouster of Honourable Patricia Olubunmi Etteh as the Speaker, a few members of the house exhibited their boxing skills on the floor of the assembly. A member of the house from Kastina State lost his life in the rowdiness and violence that greeted the crisis.

THE alleged assault by Mr. Igwe on the security man was uncalled for. What is wrong with identifying oneself if requested to do so in order to enter a public place?

Must the staff of the sergeant-at-arm’s office know and recognise all members of the National Assembly and visitors to the complex?

 Even if Hon. Igwe did not have his identity card on him when he was asked to produce it, he probably would still have been allowed to enter if he had explained himself.

AND assuming but not conceding that the security aide was actually rude to him, is assaulting a junior staff member the only avenue to seek redress? Whatever the circumstances, safe for self defence, should any decent person, least of a lawmaker, resort to physical combat in the course of an argument? With the pervasive security threats across the country, one would expect every law abiding citizen to respect any security arrangement put in place for the safety of the members of his/her community.

IRONICALLY, Igwe by his political record would pass for a thoroughbred grassroots politician. Having served as a councillor with the Port Harcourt City Council and the Chairman of the council before his election into the House of Representatives, he was expected to have been well grounded in interpersonal relationship. But somehow, this has not been the case. Not even the fact that he is a lawyer, a management consultant, and the Deputy Chairman of the House’s Committee on Human Rights could sway him from that manner of indiscretion and uncivilised and crude conduct.

TO settle scores by engaging in physical combats, is morally reprehensible and for lawmakers to be involved in such an ignoble act, is quite worrying. It appears that the conduct of Nigerian politicians during electoral process could hardly be detached from their conduct even after winning their do-or-die contests.

The violence which some Nigerian politicians have introduced into the electoral system has continued to live with them and they exhibit it once in a while. Virtually all encounters are construed as contests that must be won

at all costs. It is so appalling.

OBVIOUSLY, Honourable Igwe has a case of assault hanging on him. The case should be investigated by the relevant committee of the House and punishment meted out to the legislator if he is found guilty.

He has not only brought shame to himself by engaging in fisticuffs with a junior staff member of the assembly, his conduct has also done an incalculable damage to the image of the National Assembly in the eye of every decent person.

 It behoves the House to use the case to demonstrate that it possesses the moral strength to discourage negative behaviours by its members.

Source: Tribune