There was a mild drama on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday over moves to suspend a member, Solomon Bob (PDP, Rivers), who had an altercation with the Deputy Speaker, Ben Kalu.
Mr Bob, during the debate on a motion on Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration, criticised the deputy speaker, who presided over the session, for preventing some members from contributing to the debate.
During the debate, Mr Kalu selected some lawmakers to speak on the motion, stating that the House could not afford to allow everyone to speak.
However, Mr Bob, a ranking member, raised a point of order, stating that he was disappointed in the deputy speaker for preventing all members who wanted to speak from doing so.
The Rivers lawmaker was subsequently overruled by the deputy speaker. But he continued to protest the ruling of the deputy speaker.
“My point of order is that this is a very important subject, and everyone that wants to speak should be allowed to speak,” he said.
Apologise or face suspension— Deputy Speaker
About 30 minutes after the incident, Inuwa Garba (PDP, Garba) moved a motion on privilege and called for an apology from Mr Bob for disrespecting the presiding officer and the House.
Mr Garba, a former speaker of Gombe State House of Assembly, said Mr Bob should be given three days to apologise or be suspended for three months.
“While the speaker was discharging his constitutional responsibilities, our colleague showed a sign of disrespect to this honourable chair and the House. Honourable Solomon Bob, in front of all the cameras—the whole world is watching—said he is disappointed with the action of the speaker and the House. I think that it is unethical and unlawful.
“We have to show examples for others to see. I want to move that from now to the end of this week, the honourable member should come to the floor and put it in writing—apologise to the speaker, apologise to the House and all the honourable members for his action because we are here because we have a law.
“If he refuses, he should be suspended from all activities of the House for three months,” Mr Garba said.
In a bid to prevent the situation from escalating, the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), said the comments made by Mr Bob did not warrant the call for suspension as suggested by Mr Garba.
His intervention failed to quell the situation, as the deputy speaker insisted that Mr Bob must apologise or be suspended by the House.
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He stated that Mr Bob, who was not on the floor at the moment, must apologise before the end of the plenary.
About one hour after the ultimatum was issued, Mr Bob returned to the chamber and apologised. His apology was accepted by the deputy speaker.
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