Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has asked members of the House to stop denigrating the institution of the National Assembly while exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.
The Speaker who was reacting to comments by some members of the House on national television about the passage of the Electoral Act amendment bill said he was disappointed at the comments of the members which tends to undermine the House.
Gbajabiamila said “Members of this House, in exercising their freedom of expression and speech, are well within their right. But when you exercise this freedom, be careful not to mislead the public. Be careful not to malign unjustifiably, 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 things that are not true
“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 am concerned. I don’t care what anybody says, the things that were uttered by members of this National Assembly is a show of disgrace. I am extremely disappointed.”
However, Rep. Nzoma Abonta who was one of those who made comments on television apologized to the leadership of the House for his comments which he said was not intended to mislead Nigerians or undermine the House.
Abonta who came under personal explanation said “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 the parliament, that means I will be indirectly ridiculing myself. Without parliament there’s no democracy. I so explain Mr Speaker.”
Responding to Abonta’s apology, Gbajabiamila 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 appology is accepted”.