By Christiana Ekpa
A move by a member of the House of Representatives to debate the comments made by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami on open grazing, failed on the floor of the House.
Hon. Solomon Bob from Rivers State at Thursday plenary had raised a point of order of privilege to bring the attention of the House to the comment which he said was capable of fueling crisis in the country.
The lawmaker had described Malami’s comment on the ban as “disingenuous, irresponsible and loaded with incendiary trope and ethnic slur”, Bob wanted the parliament to call Malami to order.
However, the presiding officer, deputy Speaker, Ahmd Idris immediately requested to know the specific order in their Rule Book.
Bob, a lawyer and member representing Abua/Odual and Ahoada East Federal Constituency of Rivers State cited Order 6 matters of privilege and its relevant subsections.
Having got the green light to speak, he brought up the issue of Malami’s comment, praying the House to call him to order.
At this point, the Deputy Speaker stopped him midway on the ground that he was going outside of the order which he relied upon.
He pleaded Wase’s understanding to drive home his points and perhaps, be ruled out of order eventually.
But his pleas were not taken as he was asked to resume his seat.
“The order which you are bringing this matter is wrong. It’s either you bring it as a full motion to be debated, but coming under matters of privilege is wrong so take your seat”, Wase said.
When contacted later, Bob lambasted Malami and reiterated that the AGF’s comments lacked any basis in law but were instead capable of exacerbating the tense situation in the country.
He said Section 41 of the constitution which the minister alluded to deals with freedom of movement of human persons, not animals, and that comparing that with spare parts business is “bad politics which is akin to preparing the ground for violent attacks on dealers in the business in the northern parts of the country”.
The lawmaker cautioned the AGF to be mindful of his role under the constitution as the chief law officer of the federation and refrain from “divisive utterances that cast him as sectional and part
Recall that 17 Southern Governors about two weeks ago in one of the resolutions after a meeting in Asaba, Delta State capital banned open grazing in the region.
The Governors saw the move as one of the ways of tackling the escalating insecurity in the country.
But in a certain television programme on Wednesday night, the AGF picked holes with the resolution, saying the governors decision “doesn’t hold water”, in the context of human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
Making a comparison, Malami said the situation was like banning auto spare parts business in the north.
He said: “It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedom expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?” he queried.
“For example, it is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north”, the minister said.