Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, warned members to desist from making unparliamentary comments that could bring disrepute to the Institution.
Gbajabiamila expressed the concern while reacting to the various contributions made by two lawmakers on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill recently amended and passed by the House and the Senate.
While the Senate adopted direct, indirect primaries or consensus as the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions, the House adopted direct and indirect primaries.
During the debate of the amended Electoral bill, on Wednesday, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers), who raised a point of order, alleged that new clauses have been added in the Bill to ensure President Muhammadu Buhari rejects it.
Hon. Abiante also alleged that there were errors in other clauses in the Electoral Amendment Act bill which was sent back for reconsideration, underscored the need for the House to critically examine those clauses and make inputs.
The Speaker, who expressed dismay over Hon. Abiante’s submission, said, “As a seasoned Legislator, I have read the Rules of the House to you and you know that we are confined to the observation made by Mr. President; we have a near perfect document.”
Gbajabiamila, who frowned on the uncomplementary comments made by the lawmakers during the separate interviews granted on both AIT and Channels Television, warned against comments that could mislead the public while exercising their freedom of speech and expression.
He said, “Members of this House in exercising their freedom of expression and speech, which is well within their right. But when you exercise this freedom be careful not to mislead the public. Be careful not to malign unjustifiable this institution.
“This leadership has allowed people to express their opinions at all times and I have no problem with that. But when you begin to call the institution which you are a part of names, unwittingly and even maligning yourself, then we need to draw a line, especially when you’re peddling on truth.
“And I just thought it must be important that we mention this so that in future we will be guided by the freedom of expression and also by the truth.
“It was a show of disgrace as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care what anybody says, the things that were uttered by members of this National Assembly, a show of disgrace. Extremely disappointed.”
One of the lawmakers, Hon. Abonta, who rendered an apology, said whatever intentions attributed to his comments were not intended, adding that he couldn’t ridicule the Parliament because he would be indirectly ridiculing himself.
According to him, “If I had made statements that didn’t go down well with the institution it wasn’t intended. All we are working for, all we are striving for is to have a lasting document that can guide us.
“Whatever intentions attributed to it were not intended. We are sorry, if I ridicule parliament that means I will be indirectly ridiculing myself. Without parliament there’s no democracy. I so explain Mr. Speaker.”
In his response, the Speaker who expressed dismay over the developrnent, said, “For me and I’m sure I speak for the leadership of the House, your apology is accepted.
“But let me repeat that members should please be very circumspect when they go out in public and express their own personal opinions. Please go ahead and explain your opinion but be circumspect not to drag the house into it.
“Hon. Abonta you’re one of the highly most respected member of this House, I have a lot of regard for you so I was surprised when I heard the things you were saying, but your apology is accepted.”