Your Demands Will Be Met In Four Weeks, Gbajabiamila Assures Resident Doctors

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that their demands would be met in four weeks’ time.

He gave this assurance on Tuesday when he visited the NARD headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, had on April 12 asked the Federal Government to honour its agreement with the union, warning that should the government fail to honour its agreement in the next four weeks, they would be forced to declare another indefinite nationwide industrial action.

“We have been given a leap of faith to believe in the system and we hope and pray that the system does not fail us,” he said during his appearance on the Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

But the Speaker, after listening to their demands, promised that the government is doing all within its power to ensure the doctors do not down their tools.

READ ALSO: Doctors Threaten To Resume Strike In Four Weeks If Demands Are Not Met

“We have made some progress, headway. We have been talking, this is not the first. The Chairman of the Health Committee is here and he has been briefing us,” he said.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured Resident Doctors that their demands will be met in four weeks time after visiting their Abuja Secretariat on April 13, 2021.

 

He explained that the Federal Government appreciated their efforts in saving lives and the importance of their profession and is doing everything possible to avert another industrial action.

The Speaker added, “That has led to the suspension of the strike for four weeks. I believe that before the four weeks is up, we will be able to cement the deal.

“There is a Memorandum of Action signed between the Resident Doctors and the Government. We will make sure that is followed as best as we can. You understand the importance of these guys, we can’t afford to let them lay down their tools.”

On his part, the association’s President told Gbajabiamila that he is confident that their demands will be met within the 4-week grace period given before they embark on another strike.

Okhuaihesuyi said, “With the Honourable Speaker coming to the Secretariat, we have been able to achieve some more commitments in response to why we called off the strike.

“As it stands, most of the House Officers are getting paid their salaries. The ones left are those that have some bank failures and are being treated on as we speak.”

The resident doctors commenced an indefinite strike on April 1 after a meeting with a government delegation on March 31 ended in a deadlock.

The strike had crippled activities in tertiary hospitals across the country and left many patients and their relatives stranded.

SERAP Sues Lawan, Gbajabiamila Over ‘Missing N4.4bn NASS Funds’

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila over “their failure to probe, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4bn of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three annual audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

The suit followed the publication of annual audited reports for 2015, 2017, and 2018 in which the Auditor-General of the Federation raised “concerns about alleged diversion and misappropriation of public funds, sought the recovery of any missing funds, and asked that the evidence of recovery should be forwarded to his office.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/366/2021 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus directing and compelling Dr Lawan, Mr Gbajabiamila and the National Assembly to perform their constitutional oversight functions to ensure prompt and transparent investigation into the allegations that N4.4 billion budgeted for the National Assembly may be missing and unaccounted for.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified, the National Assembly has legal duties to combat corruption, and promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.”

READ ALSO: Attempt On Governor Ortom’s Life A Shock And Rude Awakening – NGF

PRESIDENT BUHARI MEET DR AHMAD LAWAN AND GBAJABIAMILA 6A&7B . President of the Senate Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila speaking to the Press after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE OCT 18 2020.

 

According to SERAP: “transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth is essential for promoting development, people’s welfare and well-being, and their access to basic public services, as well as good governance and the rule of law.”

SERAP is also arguing that “The National Assembly has legal responsibility to ensure that the serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation are promptly, independently, thoroughly, and transparently investigated, and to end the culture of impunity that is fuelling these allegations.”

According to SERAP: “The failure of the National Assembly to promptly and thoroughly investigate, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies the allegations documented in the annual audited reports for 2015, 2017 and 2018 is a fundamental breach of the oversight and public interest duties imposed on the legislative body by sections 4, 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Granting this application would serve the interest of justice, reduce corruption and mismanagement, as well as end impunity of perpetrators, and advance the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.”

“This suit seeks to vindicate the rule of law, the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability. Government agencies and institutions are responsible to a court of justice for the lawfulness of what they do, and of that the court is the only judge. The National Assembly has no legally justifiable reason to refuse to investigate the allegations documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm.”

It would be recalled that SERAP had in a letter dated 30 January 2021 requested Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to “use their good offices to urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly may have been misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”

The letter, read in part: “The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Gbajabiamila Visits Zazzau Emir, Condoles With Monarch Over Death Of Princes

Speaker, House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (left) on Saturday 2 January 2021 with members of the House on a condolence visit to the Emir of Zazzau, His Royal Majesty Nuhu Ahmed Bamalli (right) over the demise of two prominent members of the Emirate council on New Year’s day. Photo: Speaker’s Media Unit.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has paid a condolence visit to the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Nuhu Ahmed Bamalli, over the death of two prominent princes in the emirate.

The two personalities, Alhaji Bashir Aminu (the Iyan Zazzau), and the Talban Zazzau, Abdulkadir Iya-Pate, had died on Friday.

Gbajabiamila, who visited the emir’s palace in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Saturday, with a delegation of over 20 members of the House, including the House Leader, Rep. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, offered his sympathies to the Emirate Council and the immediate families of the deceased.

He also prayed to God to grant the souls of the late princes eternal rest.

READ ALSO: Bandits Kill Cleric, Two Others In Fresh Kaduna Attack

The speaker, who had earlier commiserated with the emirate council through a condolence message he issued in Abuja prior to his visit, also seized the opportunity to congratulate Bamalli over his elevation to the throne.

He noted that though he did not physically attend the installation ceremonies, he was with the emirate in heart and soul.

Gbajabiamila stated, “I was here with my heart, with my soul. The only thing that was not here on that day was my body. May you grow over us your subjects, and that includes me, with wisdom and with fatherly love.

“Having said that, it is ironic that at the same time, I am coming to offer commiseration on the loss of two prominent members of your council. I only heard yesterday, then I was given the details this morning. What can we say? May Allah grant them eternal rest. May their souls rest in peace.”

The Speaker thanked the royal father for his support for the House of Representatives, particularly the 9th Assembly, and prayed that God would continue to guide the emir.

Gbajabiamila said his visit had three points rolled into one, noting that he was also in Zaria to celebrate with a member of the House, Rep. Abbas Tajudeen, who gave out his daughter in marriage and his son, who was taking a wife.

“We are here with other 20 members – a very large delegation – to pay homage before you, to rejoice with you, even in spite of what happened yesterday. Everything comes from Allah. He has done what He needs to do and we must be grateful and thankful to Him.”

Responding, the emir thanked the Speaker for the visit.

He said the entire emirate was in shock over the death of the two princes, though they submitted to the will of God.

He expressed the hope that the next time the Speaker would visit the emirate, it would be for full social interactions and not for condolences.

“We thank his Excellency for coming and we pray Allah to take you back home safely. Next time you will come not for condolences but for social visits”, the emir added.

Christmas: Pray For Nigeria, Imbibe Teachings Of Jesus Christ, Gbajabiamila Tells Christians

Gbajabiamila Gives Akpabio 48 Hours To Publish Names Of Lawmakers Awarded Contracts By NDDC
FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on Christians to use this period of Christmas to imbibe the teachings of Jesus Christ and pray for continuous peaceful coexistence among Nigerians

The Speaker in his Christmas message on Thursday urged Christians to pray for the country to overcome the myriad of challenges facing her, especially the issue of insecurity.

He also urged Christians to use the period to pray for their leaders for God’s guidance.

He added that periods like this call for sober reflection and Christians must imbibe the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom he described as a role model to all.

Gbajabiamila said Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from, “must work towards achieving the dreams of our founding fathers, who made a lot of sacrifices for us to be one.”

According to the Speaker, the year 2020 came with the COVID-19 challenge but with prayers and observance of the established protocols, “the country shall overcome it in the end.”

Nigerians Have Gained A Lot From Your Experience, Gbajabiamila Celebrates Buhari At 78

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a blessing to the nation, saying that Nigerians have gained a lot from his wealth of experience.

Gbajabiamila in a statement issued on Wednesday by his media aide, Lanre Lasisi, said President Buhari deserves being celebrated at 78 given his commitment to a better Nigeria for the good of the citizens.

“Nigeria and Nigerians have gained a lot from your wealth of experience and selfless service to the country and humanity in your 78-year sojourn on mother earth,” the Speaker was quoted as saying.

“As our leader, your humility, dedication to the unity of Nigeria, and commitment to making the country better are unquestionable,” the Speaker said.

“Under our great party, the APC, you have redefined selfless service. Nigerians should continue to support the President for there are better days ahead.

“All that the President needs is our support and prayers. Whether you’re in the ruling party or the opposition, you need to support and pray for President Buhari to succeed.

READ ALSO: Buhari Orders Immediate Opening Of Four Land Borders

“Nigeria is the only country we can call ours, and we must do everything possible to make our nation great.

“I am optimistic that with the right support and prayers from all stakeholders, President Buhari will exceed our expectations,” Gbajabiamila said.

While praying for continuous good health, God’s protection and guidance, the Speaker wished the President many more fruitful years ahead.

Finance Bill Critical To Success Of 2021 Budget – Gbajabiamila

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has expressed the commitment of the House to speedily pass the 2020 Finance Bill at a public hearing organized by the House Committee on Finance.

He stated on Friday that “​The Finance Bill which we have gathered here to consider and to contribute to, will determine amongst other things, our ability as a nation to fund the 2021 budget, meet the obligations of government and implement policies to build infrastructure, address the problem of insecurity, grow the economy, and provide jobs that pay a living wage and lift families out of poverty.”

READ ALSO: FG Asks Importers To Take Advantage Of Automated Import Duty Waivers

In a communique, the Speaker was of the opinion that the Finance Bill is an important piece of legislation, deserving of thorough consideration, and reasoned debate by the parliament of the people, acting in the best interests of the people.

President Muhammadu Buhari had transmitted the bill to the National Assembly on December 1 through the Minister of Finance, Budget, and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

In her presentation,  Mrs Ahmed said the major reason behind the bill was to address issues that were lacking in the 2019 Finance Bill as well as deepen the innovations it had started.

However, she said the 2020 proposal dealt largely with taxation and tax administration.

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Rep. James Faleke, said the proposed amendments to 18 tax-related/dividend laws were in line with the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House.

Gbajabiamila Engages Development Partners On Debt Cancellation

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, presides over plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

In light of the grinding economic impacts of Covid-19, Nigeria’s Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has engaged some international development partners on the Debt Cancellation Campaign Initiative (DCCI) under the umbrella of Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP).

During a roundtable at the National Assembly organised by the Office of the Speaker, the international partners expressed readiness to support the CoSAP debt cancellation drive for African countries.

Present at the roundtable was the World Bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, as well as delegations of other international development agencies operating in Nigeria, including the European Union; ECOWAS; the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP); the FCDO Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), and the FCDO Engage Citizens Pillar (ECP).

Also in attendance were the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Mercy Corps; GIZ Nigeria, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

READ ALSO: Luther King’s Daughter, US Lawmaker, Others Ask Buhari To Release Jailed Protesters, Journalists

While introducing CoSAP to his guests, Gbajabiamila noted that foreign debt cancellation for African countries was topmost on the group’s agenda and solicited their support to make it a reality.

Gbajabiamila specifically sought the views of the World Bank Country Director, Chaudhuri, on debt cancellation, considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on African economies.

The speaker, who stressed that foreign debt was strangling African countries individually and collectively, noted that “we can all sit here and talk about revamping the economy, develop the infrastructure in terms of health, education and all of those things, which are great and wonderful

“But, we may be doing it, and it would be, hopefully not be an exercise in futility because these things require money and if all your money is going toward servicing debt, then how are we serious about this (Legislative) agenda?

“So, one of the main issues we are dealing with in that association is debt forgiveness in the form of debt cancellation. In other words, pressing the reset button; we made commitments, we’ve done a lot, so, we are here to take responsibility in terms of transparency and accountability. We even signed an Accountability Pledge in ensuring all freed up resources will be spent wholly on addressing the social and economic pains our people bear.

“We consider this debt forgiveness if we do get it, as money in hand and we have to channel these towards the development of the continent.

“So, my question is when I said I want to tap your brains, how feasible is this, what role can you play in terms of helping us advocate for debt forgiveness? Not debt relief because debt relief, as far as I’m concerned, is just basically kicking the can further down the road; you are still going to go and pick it up later.”

Responding, Chaudhuri expressed that the issue was being pushed by the World Bank President, David Malpass, before the Group of Twenty (G20).

He said transparency and accountability had been an issue dating back to the previous debt cancellation initiative between 1995 and 2005 for highly indebted countries globally.

As such, he said, CoSAP had a major task of convincing the creditors, especially the bilateral official debt to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies or the Paris Club, on the commitment to transparency and accountability to the terms of the agreement.

According to him, Africa has been piling up commercial debt, adding, “What has happened over the last 20 years is that the debt levels have built up.

“For Nigeria, as you may have known over the issue of financing, does not have debt problem but for other sub-Saharan African countries, the debt level has actually gone up again to a very high level. But this time, a lot of them are commercial debts and official bilateral debts or a kind of semi-official bilateral debt.

“So, the G-20 and the World Bank President have put up on the agenda that that also needs to be approached, especially given the global crisis.

“The problem is, there is a very different set of creditors that we are talking about and it will take a lot more work. That’s one thing that has changed.”

While commending the frank response of the World Bank’s Country Director on the issue, the Speaker said all hands have to be on deck to make debt cancellation a reality.

Gbajabiamila disclosed that some members of CoSAP have signed an Accountability Pledge on the issue that would be shared with them for a better understanding of the position of the continental legislative body.

Deputy Minority Leader Faults Malami On Buhari House Summon

 

The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, has faulted the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on the powers of the National Assembly to Summon the President, saying the AGF was only airing the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The AGF had in a statement on Monday maintained that the House of Representatives resolution inviting President Muhammadu Buhari to interface with it on the rising insecurity in the country was “outside constitutional bounds”.

But Okechukwu, a senior lawyer, disagreed with Malami, describing the AGF’s position as “strange”.

He said that the invitation was a prudent effort on the part of the legislature to find a lasting solution to the worsening insecurity in the country, adding that the President’s willingness to appear was evident in his interaction with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.

READ ALSO: National Assembly Has No Power To Summon Buhari – Malami

“Without making undue to efforts to win an argument, Section 89 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended clearly empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with Section 62 of the Constitution to procure evidence, written or oral and to ‘summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place.

“Therefore the attempt to pressurize Mr. President not to appear clearly shows that some highly placed political actors in the ruling party are placing politics over the protection of lives of Nigerians. The APC is evidently fiddling with propaganda and politics while Nigeria burns”, he stated.

The lawmaker, who represents Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, Enugu State, described as unfortunate a situation where every invitation by a branch of government to another branch to interact towards addressing any national challenges was considered as demeaning, thereby triggering unnecessary flexing of muscles.

“It is evident from APC’s position as made public by the AGF that the safety of Nigerian citizens would take a back sit in the next few days, while the argument over who is right or wrong unfortunately takes the front seat” he added.

He, therefore, called on President Buhari to rise above the legalese and political fray to show leadership in order to rally the Nigerian people and their parliament to find lasting solutions to the growing insecurity in the country.

Gbajabiamila Wants Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Disabled Persons Implemented

Gbajabiamila Gives Akpabio 48 Hours To Publish Names Of Lawmakers Awarded Contracts By NDDC
(FILE) Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaks during a meeting in Abuja on February 5, 2020.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2019.

The Speaker said the full implementation of the law could address issues of discrimination, empowerment and equal opportunity for Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWSs) in Nigeria.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chairman of the newly-created House Committee on Disabilities, Rep. Miriam Onuoha, spoke on Friday during the celebration of the 2020 World Disability Day hosted by the Office of the Speaker.

The event was also attended by a virtual audience that included Barrister Bolarinwa, Senior Counsel, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Dr Ifeanyi Chikunie and others.

Gbajabiamila noted that though it’s often what happened, disability of any kind should not take away from the dignity of the individual or take away the right to dream big dreams or hinder the achievement of grand ambitions.

“This is because we have designed our societies, our governments and our systems of policymaking and implementation without considering the rights, hopes and prayers of our less-abled brethren”, Gbajabiamila noted.

The Speaker, while expressing sadness over the inability of the government to meet the objectives of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act that became law in 2019, said it had become imperative for all stakeholders to ensure that the letters of the law were implemented without delay.

He said: “When the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition), Act became law in 2019, it was the cause of much joy because we had such high expectations. Those expectations have not been met because we have not fully set up the infrastructure to support the full implementation of the law.

“It is now our joint responsibility to make sure that we do all that is required to bring this law to life so that all our nation’s people can receive the protections they deserve. And just as importantly, make sure that no citizen of Nigeria will ever again be deprived of the opportunity to live a full life due to disability of whatever kind.

“I hope that in our conversations today, we will speak freely about how we can work together across government and outside to achieve the ambitions that motivated this vital legislation”.

In his presentation, Barrister Bolarinwa said the issue of inclusion was germane to the PLWDs, noting that the Act would address the challenge of discrimination against them

He, however, emphasized that to address the discrimination issue, public and private sectors should not design special programmes and policies for PLWDs.

He suggested that issues of concern to these special people should be mainstreamed into the general programmes for everyone.

“Let them have access to every programme”, he said.

On his part, Dr. Chikunie said the coronavirus pandemic had dealt a big blow to the PLWDs and as such, they should be integrated into the society, empowered, and their skills developed for economic and self-reliance.

He said programmes that could lead to the realization of these goals should be developed by governments and private organizations.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Special Assistant to the Speaker on Special Needs and Equal Opportunities, Abdulsalam Kamaldeen, noted that the negative perception by the public was even more damaging to the PLWDs than their disabilities.

The highlight of the celebration was the presentation of scholarships to six students from Government Secondary Schools, Sherati and Gosa as well as the LEA Primary Schools, Karamanjiji and Kuchigoro by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Hon. Sanusi Rikiji.

Six PLWDs, an amputee and another with needs for calliper, among others, were also gifted with special sponsorship for their needs.

Gbajabiamila Condemns Killing Of Borno Farmers, Calls For More Military Action Against Insurgents

Gbajabiamila Gives Akpabio 48 Hours To Publish Names Of Lawmakers Awarded Contracts By NDDC
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaks during a meeting in Abuja on February 5, 2020.

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has condemned the killing of about 50 rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.

Gbajabiamila said the incident has once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.

He said it was unfortunate that at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice farming, about 50 of the farmers were killed in a most gruesome manner.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Sunday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi.

The Speaker said the House is determined and ready to provide all necessary support, including the ongoing budgeting process to ensure that funds are allocated for the security agencies to carry out their mandate of wiping out the terrorists.

READ ALSO: Lagos Government Demolishes Over 1,700 Shanties At Fagba Railway Lines

“It’s unfortunate that about 50 of our countrymen lost their lives to the barbaric and inhuman action of the insurgents at this time.

“This incident is one too many for us as a country. Here were innocent citizens going about their lives of looking for their daily bread to cater for their families. But are murdered in a most gruesome manner.

“Their lives should not go in vain. This should call for more action from our military. As a House, we are ever ready to give them all the necessary support, especially through budgetary allocation, to deal decisively with the insurgents.

“My heart goes out to the families of the murdered farmers,” the Speaker said.

At least forty farmers were killed on Saturday morning around Marrabati and Hammayya villages, near Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists.

The farmers were waylaid on their way to their rice farms which they were harvesting before the surprise attack happened.

Some other farmers were also taken away by the criminals.

‘I Feel Your Pain’: Gbajabiamila Meets With Abuja Vendors Over Dead Colleague

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday met with members of the Abuja Newspapers Distributors Association (ANDA) and the Newspapers Vendors Association, Abuja (NVAA) to condole with them over the death of their colleague, Ifeanyi Okereke.

Okereke was shot by a member of Gbajabiamila’s security detail on Thursday.

Gbajabiamila, who visited the Abuja newspapers distribution centre at Area 1 in Abuja, said Ifeanyi, who died from a bullet fired by one of the security aides attached to the Speaker’s convoy, would get justice.

“The arc of the moral universe is long but it always bends towards justice,” the Speaker said, according to a statement signed by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.

The Speaker said the House would upon its resumption of plenary on Tuesday honour the late Ifeanyi and invited the leaders of the two associations to be part of the event to be held on the floor of the House.

READ ALSO: Gbajabiamila’s Security Aide In Detention – DSS

“Let me address you not as the Speaker but as Femi Gbajabiamila a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has been caught unawares in the middle of this unfortunate incident,” the Speaker said.

“Many of you that have been following me from the beginning know that championing the cause of the masses has been my life work as a legislator. I have been a champion of the common man and therefore the irony of this is not lost on me and many of us. However, I will continue to do this as long as I live.

“This is a very difficult time for me. Like many have said, you guys have been my friends for years. I have no idea and I don’t know why you guys have always taken to me over the years including campaigning for me in the streets of abuja during the speakership election. You’ve always been there for me. As you were selling your papers, you were also selling me.

“That’s why each time I pass you guys , I stop to say hi. Some people said why did I stop in the middle of the road? But as we were moving, the lights changed to red which meant to stop. We could have moved on, but I have always instructed my convoy to be law abiding. So we stopped and my friends, as usual, besieged the vehicle, shouting and were jubilant.

“Immediately I heard the gunshot, I screamed and said why did they do that? At that time I thought it was just a shot into the air. As we moved on, I asked that they should park the car. It’s against security training as they made me realize, but I insisted and they parked. They said everything was okay. Indeed some other road users behind us did say everything was okay. We moved on. It was later that night that I got the full gist of what had happened. I want to commiserate with you over what happened.”

The Speaker said the security operative responsible for the shooting had been handed over to the Department of State Security (DSS), and they are investigating the shooting and its circumstances.

Gbajabiamila said he had visited the family of the late Ifeanyi at the Kwata area of Madalla-Suleja on Saturday, where he met with his wife and children.

“Those children have now become my children. I have made commitments to the family to train them until they become adults. I have instructed the lawyers in my office to immediately set up a trust fund for them until adulthood. The incident has touched me in no small measure and in ways difficult for anyone to understand. I am a man of peace and not violence.”

As part of the mourning period, the Speaker said he had cancelled all his engagements, “because I’m indeed mourning, and I can’t be mourning and be celebrating or attending joyous occasions or functions at the same time.

“We all talked about justice, and I assure you we will follow due process. Justice, in whatever form it is, will prevail. That’s what we can do for now.

“There’s sitting on Tuesday, and I’m inviting the Executives of the two associations, and maybe some few members, to come over where we will be honouring Ifeanyi. We have a lot of things on Tuesday, but we will honour him.

“I feel your pain. Your pain is my pain. My pain pales into insignificance when compared to what you or the family may be feeling at this time. May his soul rest in peace. May God grant him eternal rest. May the death of Ifeanyi be the beginning of good things for the vendors. I have heard your requests, and I assure you that those requests would be handled. Ifeanyi’s death won’t be in vain. May a lot of good come out of this unfortunate incident.

“I thank you for your very kind and generous words regarding my person. I thank you for receiving us. It’s unfortunate that we’re meeting under this circumstance, but I assure you that this won’t be the last.”

On his part, the spokesman of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, said it was a sad moment, commending the vendors for the maturity with which they have handled the matter so far.

“Out of concern, the Speaker insisted that a foundation or a trust fund be put in place for that family. He has also promised to grow the wife’s business or set her up in business if she doesn’t have one.

“If it were another person, he would have sent his aides to go and see the family. But he suspended all his national assignments to go and see the family. He said that one life is more important than anything else.”

He suggested that November 19, which was the date of Ifeanyi’s death, be set aside every year to celebrate vendors.

Speaking, the President of ANDA, Benji Obute, commended the Speaker for his humility and thanked him for showing uncommon concern over the incident.

“I want to use this forum to appreciate Mr Speaker for the uncommon love he displayed to the newspaper vendors.

“The vendors and distributors have been having a robust relationship with the National Assembly, which led us to have a special publication commending the National Assembly last year December on the qualitative legislation you are doing, especially on the timely passage of the 2020 Budget.

“We have stated our request, part of which is the scholarship, compensation and the welfare of the family. We want our late brother and colleague to be immortalized. We’ll give you the architectural design of a tent to be built here and named after him. We want a follow up of the prosecution. What we want is justice to be done.

“The vendors are traumatized and cannot do their business at the Federal Secretariat again. Whatever kind gesture that you can extend to them will be appreciated. We exonerate you, we are not blaming you for what happened. We blame the security man that did the shooting.”

Also, the Chairman of NVAA, Mr Etim Iwara, said the late Ifeanyi was a dedicated and loyal member of their association, noting that justice must be done on his death.

“We appreciate the Speaker for the steps he has taken including the visit to late Elechi’s family yesterday (Saturday). We are happy that the Speaker has made promises to address the issue and assist the family.”

Gbajabiamila’s Security Aide In Detention – DSS

 

The Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested a security aide to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

In a statement issued on Friday by the spokesman of the secret service, Peter Afunanya, the said personnel was detained following the alleged shooting of a vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“The Service hereby confirms that the suspect is one of its personnel deployed to the Speaker’s Convoy as a security detail,” the statement partly read.

“As part of its disciplinary procedures in the instance, he has been taken into detention. In addition, the Service has opened a detailed investigation into the matter.

“And as already stated by the Speaker that he has been suspended from his Convoy, the Service has further withdrawn him from the assignment.”

READ ALSO: Gbajabiamila Confirms Death Of Vendor Shot By His Security Aide, Suspends Officer

The DSS spokesman assured Nigerians that the service would “be transparent and accountable in handling this,” adding that “it is liaising with appropriate authorities to achieve this objective.”

He also sympathised with the family of the deceased and his loved ones, reiterating the DSS commitment to thoroughly investigate “the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident and will surely keep to this.”

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

PRESS RELEASE

DSS INVESTIGATES ALLEGED SHOOTING BY SPEAKER’S SECURITY AIDE

The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to the allegation of shooting and killing of one Ifeanyi Okereke by a security aide of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

  1. The Service hereby confirms that the suspect is one of its personnel deployed to the Speaker’s Convoy as a security detail. And as already stated by the Speaker that he has been suspended from his Convoy, the Service has further withdrawn him from the assignment.
  2. As part of its disciplinary procedures in the instance, he has been taken into detention. In addition, the Service has opened a detailed investigation into the matter. While it pledges to be transparent and accountable in handling this, it is liaising with appropriate authorities to achieve this objective. The Service condoles with the family of the deceased and his loved ones. It has promised a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident and will surely keep to this.

Peter Afunanya, Ph.D

Public Relations Officer,

Department of State Services,

National Headquarters,

Abuja

20th November, 2020