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Plenary proceedings of the House of Representatives for Tuesday, February 13th, 2024.

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The Speaker of the House Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen presiding.

After leading the opening prayer and recitation of the national pledge, the Speaker approved the votes and proceedings of Thursday, February 8th, 2024.

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Administration of Oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that of the Office of a Member of the House of Representatives on 4 Members-elect.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: 

1. There will be a meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the Christmas Day killings in Plateau State at Suite 1.03 by 3:00 PM.

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PETITIONS: 

1. Hon. Mouktar Shagaya laid a petition on behalf of a complaining community in Lugbe, Abuja against the administration of the Federal Capital Territory on the alleged contravention of agreement, as previous pleadings with past FCT administration’s have proved unfruitful.

2. Hon. Adeniyi laid 2 petitions on behalf of 2 different complainants. The first is against the unwarranted increase in the price of cement and the second one is on the alleged non payment of electrification compensation for expenses accursed in repairs that should have been done by the Electricity Distribution Company.

Both petitions were referred to the House committee on Public Petitions.

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MATTERS OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: 

1. Hon. Taofeek Abimbola moved a motion on the urgent need for the Federal government to investigate the non-engagement of genuinely recruited staff of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and it was seconded by Hon. Ayodeji Alaoakala. 

Hon. Taofeek in leading the debate stated that the recruitment exercise took place in 2022 with due verification exercises carried out, and appointment letters were issued out. He wondered why the successful candidates were however never duly engaged. He bemoaned the fact that these newly employed staff had born various expenses in relocating themselves as well as their families for the cause of the employment. 

Hon. Taofeek called for the Head of the Civil Service Commission and the Management of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital to appear before the House Committee on Health Institutions as well as that on Public Service Matters who should investigate the matter. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Health Institutions as well as that on Public Service Matters.

2. Hon. Igariwey Enwo moved a motion on the urgent need for the Federal government to reexamine the list of the proposed States to fill the 12 vacancies created in the disadvantage of others in High Courts in the FCT and it was seconded by Hon. Ahmed Yusuf. 

Hon. Enwo in leading the debate stated that serious concerns has been raised about these disadvantaged State’s slots in the composition of States in the High Court Judges in the FCT High Court system. He stated that 4 States that were hitherto denied slots were still omitted in the bid to fill in spaces of omitted States. 

Hon. Enwo called on the Chief Judge of the High Court, Abuja to halt the exercise till these abnormalities are corrected and that the House Committee on FCT Judiciary as well as that on Federal Character should ensure compliance. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on FCT Judiciary as well as that on  Federal Character.

3. Hon. Ademorin Kuye moved a motion on the urgent need to monitor increased FAAC allocation and usage in order to reduce poverty in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Leke Abejide. Hon. Kuye in leading the debate stated that allocations shared between tiers of government has significantly increased recently after the fuel subsidy removal but it is yet to trickle down to Nigerian citizens still grappling with poverty. These facts he stated have made Nigerians continue to wallow in economic suffering despite available funds. 

Hon. Kuye called on State governments to be patriotic and ensure Nigerians get dividends of good governance from them. He called on the House Committee on Special Duties, National Planning and that on Intergovernmental Affairs to investigate and report back to the House. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Special Duties, National Planning as well as that on Intergovernmental Affairs.

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The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu commended members of Parliament that went to support the Super Eagles at the African Cup of Nations final in Cot’d Voire and also praised the patriotic performance of the Super Eagles in doing Nigeria and Nigerians proud during the tournament.

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PRESENTATION OF REPORTS:

1. Ad-hoc Committee on Dispute Between the Super Falcons and the Nigeria Football Federation:

Hon. Blessing Onuh Onyeche:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Ad–hoc Committee on Dispute between the Super Falcons and the Nigeria Football Federation” (HR.69/07/2023) (Referred:12/7/2023).

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Blessing Onuh and seconded by Hon. Philip Agbese.

2. Committee on Public Petitions:

​Report on the petition by Rev. Dr. Johnson O. Odii on behalf of Mgbom Na. Achara Development Union in Ohaozara Local Government Area:

Hon. Mike Etaba:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions on the petition by Rev. Dr. Johnson O. Odii on behalf of Mgbom Na. Achara Development Union in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, a cry for government intervention to save their souls” (Laid: 26/7/2023).

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Mike Etaba and seconded by Hon. Kalejaye Adeboye.

3. Committee on Public Petitions:

​Report on the petition by Bolaji Yunus, the CEO Bolaful Solution Ventures against Access Bank PLC:

​Hon. Mike Etaba:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions on the petition by Bolaji Yunus, the CEO Bolaful Solution Ventures against Access Bank PLC, 14/15 Prince Alaba Abiodun Oniru Road, Victoria Island Lagos, whose signage fell on him while on the process of work and the bank refused to treat him” (Laid:24/10/2023).

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Mike Etaba and seconded by Hon. Kalejaye Adeboye.

4. Committee on Public Petitions:

Report on the petition by Aruya O. Davidson against Legal Aid Council of Nigeria:

Hon. Mike Etaba:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions on the petition by Aruya O. Davidson against Legal Aid Council of Nigeria on Illegal Employment and Elevation of Mrs. Oghenekume” (Laid:2/11/2023).

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Mike Etaba and seconded by Hon. Kalejaye Adeboye.

5. Committee on Public Petitions:

​Report on the petition by Raymond Asada against Management of Bank of Agriculture:

Hon. Mike Etaba:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions on the petition by Raymond Asada against Management of the Bank of Agriculture for unfair treatment in matter of Promotion by Management of Bank of Industry. (Laid:14/10/2023.

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Mike Etaba and seconded by Hon. Kalejaye Adeboye.

6. Committee on Public Petitions:

​Report on the petition by A. E. Adole &Co against Julius Berger Nigeria Plc Ijora-Lagos:

​Hon. Mike Etaba:

“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Public Petitions on the petition by A. E. Adole & Co against Julius Berger Nigeria Plc Ijora-Lagos A Case of Conspiracy to Vendetta, Criminal Defamation and Conduct likely to cause Breach of Peace (Laid:3/10/2023).

The report was laid following a motion by Hon. Mike Etaba and seconded by Hon. Kalejaye Adeboye.

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ORDERS OF THE DAY:

BILLS:

1. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act, 2015 and for Related Matters (SB.188) (Leader) (Senate) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Julius Ihonvbere moved for the second reading of the bill and was seconded by Hon. Nnolim Nnaji. Hon. Ihonvbere in leading the debate stated that the bill seeks to amend the Principal Act to strengthen its provisions and ensure the hazards from criminal activities in cyber crime are dealt with.

Hon. Sada Soli called for the stepping down of the second reading of the bill as Honourable Members do not have copies of it and cannot make informed decisions on it.

Hon. Julius Ihonvbere in exercising his right of reply stated that the bill is a Senate one seeking concurrence. 

Hon. Francis Waive who is the Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business concurred with this position.

The Deputy Speaker of the House Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu stated that being a Senate bill does not mean that the House should not debate on the merits or demerits of approving it to be passed. Though a beautiful bill, it must however follow due procedure as Hon. Sada Soli has stated. The second reading of the bill was then stepped down till copies are duly circulated to Honourable Members.

2. A Bill for an Act to Alter the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to change the Educational Qualification for Elections into Certain Political Offices and for Related Matters (Hon.  Adewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Adewunmi Onanuga moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by Hon. Abubakar Halims. Hon. Onanuga in leading the debate stated that the amendment bill seeks to alter the Principal Act to ensure proper leadership qualities and skills in people laden with the occupation of public office in Nigeria. It seeks to ensure sound educational qualifications for public office holders to ensure sound decision making processes in the governance of the nation. Hon. Onanuga further stressed that the bill seeks to afford qualified Nigerian graduates the opportunity to participate in active Nigerian politics.

Hon. Babajimi Benson in supporting the bill stated that the bill is the right way to go as he sponsored the same bill in the 9th Assembly. Nigeria he stated should be moving forward in governance as educated people make better decisions in positions of public office. He wondered why people will want to rule an advancing country like Nigeria without adequate educational qualifications.

Hon. Julius Ihonvbere stated that education empowers rulers to make better and holistic decisions for national interest. He stated that the requirement may not be applied to the local government level, but should be applicable to every national political office aspirant. He further stated that while knowledge does not guarantee wisdom, it is a favorable component.

Hon. Leke Abejide in his contribution stated that uninformed and uneducated leaders can be dangerous for governance as they may not employ wide and holistic reasoning in critical decision making processes and this could have adverse effects on those being governed. He stressed that the second reading of the bill should be encouraged.

Hon. Alfred Iliya in his contribution stressed the importance of education in the life and duties of public office holders in their bid of making national decisions.

Hon. Mustapha Aliyu stated that the bill is long overdue as education is the bedrock of any society and leaders are supposed to lead by example quality in decision making. He however proposed that the proposed limit should be reduced from tertiary education qualification to at least secondary school level.

Hon. Shettima Ali in supporting the bill however called for clarification on the levels of qualification across political offices from Federal to local government levels.

Hon. Ademorin Kuye stated that it is impossible not to provide graduates for political leadership in every local government in Nigeria as universities abound all local governments nationally.

Hon. Kingsley Chinda stated that education advancement provides wisdom and knowledge to individuals and is more vital for leaders to possess. He reminded members that the level basic education in the past was more advanced than what is obtainable now so the need for advanced educational standards now is more critical, especially in qualification for leaders.

Hon. Aliyu Madaki in opposing the bill stated that leadership quality is not determined by evel of education. He stated that the bill seeks to discriminate against patriotic Nigerians not fortunate enough to have tertiary education qualification. He called for the continuation of an all inclusive political atmosphere for Nigerians in participating in politics.

Hon. Bashiru stated that the constitution is right in leaving the education qualification for political office holders as it is presently as some patriotic Nigerians are not as privileged to have the educational qualification the bill stipulates, but possess true leadership qualities.

Hon. Ahmed Jaha in his contribution stated that UNESCO’s requirement for education in every country’s budget should not be less than 25% and Nigeria has never met half of this requirement so why should uneducated Nigerians be deprived political office opportunities for the failure of the state to educate them? He stated that his contribution is not for himself, but for other Nigerians not to be disenfranchised due to their lack of advanced education.

Hon. Kabiru Maipalace stated that views and conditions differ from each other in different parts of Nigeria. The educational procedure in the north differs from the south and all should be considered before establishing laws for the whole nation to be carried along.

Hon. Garba Inuwa stated that education is not a prerequisite for knowledge and some schools in the north have been closed down for years due to insecurity and those from those regions should not be disenfranchised from holding political office due to their inability to graduate.

Hon. Matthew stated that the constitution’s view on this matter should be respected as governance should not be restricted to only a privileged few who have tertiary qualification.

Hon. Etabnabene Benedict disagreed that education is the base of intelligence and knowledge. He stated that he himself pursued qualification in diving and under sea welding before education and cannot be looked as not qualified to lead.

Hon. Bello Kumo while agreeing that education is crucial as a qualification in every sphere of life, however stated that there is a distinct difference from being educated and possessing certificates. He queried the basis of Nigerian requirements on certification against the true transfer of knowledge as is obtainable in even more developed climes. 

The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu reminded members that any amendment can only be done at the committee level as it is a Constitutional amendment Bill. He reminded Honorable members that Nigerian leaders compete among the committee of nations and educational and exposure is important as experts always analyze remarks and opinions of leaders.

Hon. Onanuga in exercising her right of reply stated that the bill is an innocent one only seeking to improve the quality of decision-making in governance and does not seek to disqualify the educational level of any Nigerian. Considering the mood of the House however, she conceded to stepping down the Bill for further legislative consultation. The bill was stepped down by leave of the House.

3. A Bill for an act to Amend the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 to Increase the Penalty for the Offence of Female Genital Mutilation under Act and for Related Matters (HB. 897) (Hon. Kalifat A. Ogbara) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Kalifat Ogbara moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by Hon. Oriyomi Onanuga. Hon. Kalifat in leading the debate stated that the bill seeks to abolish the inhumane act of female genital mutilation as it is unpopular worldwide with adverse psychological effects on its victims. She called for stiffer penalties for the perpetrators of such an act. The bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Women Affairs.

4. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria Act, Cap. A12, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to make provision for Establishment of Federal Institute of Fisheries Research, Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi State and for Related Matters (HB. 285) (Hon. Jafaru Gambo Leko) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Jafaru Leko moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by Hon. Yusuf Salisu. Hon. Leko in leading the bill stated that the bill seeks to amend the 3rd schedule of the Act to include the proposed Council to improve the development of research in fishery especially in the Northeast. The bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions.

5. A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of Federal College of Nursing and Midwifery, Ikosu, Moba Local Government Area, Ekiti State and for Related Matters (HB.782) (Hon. Kolawole D. Akinlayo) – Second Reading.

Debate:

Hon. Kolawole Akinlayo moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by Hon. Okafor. Hon. Akinlayo in leading the debate stated that the bill seeks to boost the nursing profession in Nigeria, especially for those living in Ekiti state and its environs. The bill was voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House committee on Health Institutions.

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MOTIONS:

6. Rescission on Consolidated Bills (HBs. 87 and 154):

​Hon. Francis Waive:

The House:

Notes that on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, the two Bills seeking to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission Act were consolidated;

Aware that HB. 154 seeks to include Anambra State as one of the Oil Producing States, whereas HB. 87 seeks to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission Act to provide for anticipated and sustainable budget process, a matter different from that of HB. 154;

Cognizant that although the two Bills are amending the same Act, they are addressing different subject matters, hence the need to rescind the decision taken on December 20, 2023;

Resolves to:

Rescind its decision and allow the Bills to be read separately.

Debate:

Hon. Francis Waive moved the motion on rescission on consolidated bills HBS. 87 and 154 and it was seconded by Hon. Abubakar Halims. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

7. Need to Investigate the Regulatory Implementation and Compliance of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018:

​Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed:

The House:

Notes that the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 was established to fully integrate persons with disabilities into society and establishes the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, vests it with power to ensure their education, health care, social, economic, and civil rights;

Also notes that Part II, Sections (iii), (iv), and (v) of the Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 provides that a person with  disability has the right to access the physical environment and buildings on an equal basis with others, that a public building shall be constructed with the necessary accessibility aids, such as lifts (where necessary), ramps, and any other facility that shall make it accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. That roadside walks, pedestrian crossings, and all other special facilities as set out in the First Schedule of the Act made for public use shall be made accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs and the visually impaired;

Further notes that Part II, Section (vi): provides for transitory period which was to commenced in 2018 and lapsed in 2023, provides that there shall be a transitory period of five years within which all public buildings and structures, whether movable, immovable, or automobiles, that were inaccessible to persons with disabilities shall be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs;

Also aware that the National Assembly is saddled with the responsibility of making laws for the peace, order, good governance, and wellbeing of all citizens of the Federation or any part thereof as enshrines in Section 4(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999, as amended);

Disturbed that since the bill was signed into Law by the former President Muhammadu Buhari there has been minimal adherence and compliance to the Act by Government’s Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, Private Firms and bodies;

Worried that new building plans are not scrutinized by the relevant authorities to ensure they meet the stated accessibility standards, thus making persons with disabilities go about their daily activities with fear of being injured, neglected, and discriminated against;

Cognizant of the fact that integrating persons with disabilities, particularly in urban and modern buildings, will go a long way in forestalling and propagating the plan of the government to integrate all of its citizens without any form of discrimination;

Convinced that setting up a working committee to address these issues will go a long way in ensuring that the provisions of the Act are strictly adhered to in promoting equality among the citizenry;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to revive compliance activities of the Commission, look into the affected gray areas and actively operationalize the working framework of the Act accordingly;

(ii) also urge the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to provide and make available relief materials, equipment’s to aid free mobility of persons with disabilities across the federation;

(iii)​further urge the Commission to encourage constant advocacy and outreach to enlighten legislators and other decision makers on issues affecting persons with disabilities; and

(iv) mandate the Committees on Disabilities, Safety Standards, Specialty Health Care, Human Rights, and Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to ensure legislative compliance.

Debate:

Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed moved the motion on the need to investigate the regulatory implementation and compliance against persons with disabilities  (Prohibition) Act, 2018 and it was seconded by Hon. Garu. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Disabilities, Emergency Preparedness, Human Rights as well as that on Safety Standards.

8. Need for Drastic action against Health Facilities that Refuse Treatment of Accident or Gunshot,Patients without Police Reports:

​Hon. Odianosen Henry Okojie:

The House:

Notes that the provisions of Section 1 of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017 provides that every hospital is to receive and treat victims of gunshot wounds with or without police clearance and/or payment of an initial deposit, but are duty bound to report to the nearest police station within hours of commencing treatment on the victim;

Also notes that Section 7 of the Act states that “any authority or person whose omission results in the unnecessary death of a gunshot victim shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years or a fine in the sum of N500, 000.00 or both”;

Aware that immediate medical attention is crucial for survival and quality of life for accident or gunshot victims, and hospitals and healthcare facilities have an ethical and legal obligation to preserve human life regardless of the circumstances;

Observes that despite the Act providing for the compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshots by hospitals in the country, there are rising cases of medical personnel refusing to treat victims due to absence of doctors’ reports;

Also aware that patients requiring emergency medical treatment due to accidents or gunshot injuries usually face denial or delayed access to healthcare services if they fail to present a police report;

Concerned that many victims of accidents or gunshots are unable to obtain a police report promptly, given the severity of their injuries, the absence of law enforcement at the scene, or other relevant factors beyond their control;

Worried that the refusal of hospitals to treat patients without a police report is a direct violation of the principles of medical ethics, professional conduct, and the universal right of individuals to access healthcare, and this discriminatory practice disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, such as minorities and the poor, who are more likely to experience higher rates of accidents or gun-related incidents;

Aware that existing laws and regulations do not explicitly prohibit hospitals from refusing treatment to accident or gunshot victims without a police report, thereby perpetuating unjust practices;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Federal Ministry of Health and its regulatory authorities to take immediate and decisive action to address the issue of hospitals and healthcare facilities refusing to treat accident or gunshot patients without a police report;

(ii) also urge the Federal Ministry of Health to enforce regulations prohibiting hospitals from denying or delaying emergency medical care to victims of accidents or gunshot wounds without a police report and impose appropriate sanctions and penalties;

(iii) further urge the Federal Ministry of Information, through the National Orientation Agency to organize an awareness campaign to educate the public, hospitals, and healthcare professionals about the necessity of immediate medical assistance for accident or gunshot victims;

(iv) mandate the Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure compliance and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative actions.

Debate:

Hon. Henry Okojie moved the motion on the need for drastic action against health facilities that refuse treatment of accident or gunshot patients without police report and it was seconded by Hon. Adamu. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Health Institutions.

9. Need to Control the Menace of Erosion in Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency:

​Hon. Salisu Yusuf Majigiri:

The House:

Notes the devastating erosion in Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency, Katsina State Affected farming activities and source of livelihoods of the people resulting in loss of developmental infrastructure and damaged communities;

Also notes that public infrastructure like the police station, Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) office, Mashi market, schools, and township roads experienced gully erosions annually and pose a grave danger as daily activities are hampered.

Recalls that the threat of gully erosion affected the major road from Kastina-Tsintsiya-Mashi-Garo-Doka-Shargalle-Kayawa-Daura-Kazaure-Dabatt-Kano city;

Cognizant of the need to build efficient drainage system in Mashi town and environ to address the gully erosion in the town;

Worried that if the erosion menace is not addressed, most villages and houses within the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency may have their farmlands and houses destroyed by the erosion;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Ecological Fund Office to immediately commence remediation work to arrest the erosion problem by building drainage in the affected areas in Mushi/Dutsi Federal Constituency;

(ii) also urge the Federal Ministries of Finance, and Budget and National Planning to release funds for the control of erosion in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency; and

(iii) mandate the Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.

Debate:

Hon. Salisu Majigiri moved the motion on the need to control the menace of erosion in Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Ecology as well as that on Legislative Compliance.

10. Need to Deploy Armed Personnel carrier Vehicle to Mopol 64 Base, Obioha, Ideato South Local Government Area, Ideato North/South Federal Constituency, Imo State:

​Hon. Ikeagwuonu O. Ugochinyere:

The House:

Notes that Section 4(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to make laws for the order and good governance of the Federation or any part thereof;

Also notes that Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of government;

Aware that MOPOL 64 Base located in Obiohia in Ideato South Local Government Area of Ideato North/South Federal Constituency serves as the Operational Base for the Mobile Police in the Federal Constituency and its environs;

Also aware that Ideato North and South Local Government Areas have witnessed increased attacks by armed bandits, unknown gunmen and kidnappers in recent times, thus endangering the lives and properties of the residents;

Saddened that the Mobile Police Base in Obiohia community in Ideato South Local Government Area lacks adequate Armoured Personnel Carrier vehicles to effectively respond to distress calls and dislodge the heavily armed criminal elements;

Concerned that the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicles deployed to the Mobile Police Force Base was taken to Owerri and are yet to be returned, thereby hindering the Police Command’s efforts from tackling the security situation in Ideato North/South Federal Constituency;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to immediately deploy an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) Vehicle to MOPOL 64 Base in Obiohia, Ideato South Local Government Area, in Ideato North/South Federal Constituency; and

(ii) mandate the Committee on Police Affairs to ensure compliance and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.

Debate:

Hon. Ikeagwuonu Ugochinyere moved the motion on the need to deploy armed personnel carrier vehicle to Mopol 64 Base, Obioha, Ideato south local government area, Ideato North/South federal constituency, Imo state and it was seconded by Hon. Aliyu Madaki.

The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu wondered if the prayers of the motion was not encroaching on the operations of the military.

Hon. Nnoli Nnaji clarified that the motion seeks specifically for the provision of the armed carrier as it is critically needed to address the specific security challenges in the region. It was also stated that the carrier had been provided for before but returned due to the improvement in the security situation in the region, but the recent failing security situation warrants its reinstatement. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Police Affairs.

11. Call to Reconstruct the Rabah–Bakura Junction Road:

​Hon. Ibrahim Almustapha Aliyu:

The House:

Notes that Rabah-Bakura Junction Road is an expressway of approximately 81 km and a crucial transportation route for people and agricultural produce across the country;

Worried that the road is in a dreadful state, making the movement of goods and people extremely tedious, particularly sections 3 and 4 of the roads which are nearly impassable during rainy season;

Aware that the survey, design and bill of engineering measurements for the reconstruction of the Road were conducted by the Ministry Long ago but the project was conspicuously missing in the 2024 budget proposal of the Ministry;

Cognizant that in October 2019, a motion was moved in the House of Representatives on the rehabilitation of Rabah-Bakura Junction Road, wherein the House resolved to mandate the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure speedy rehabilitation of the road, however, the road has remained untended to;

Worried that the poor condition of the expressway reduces the economic potential of Sokoto State, particularly for the 32 farming communities that have to pay more for the transportation of produce, thereby threatening food security in the country;

Further worried that the inability of the federal government to reconstruct and rehabilitate the road encourages criminal elements to attack commuters, making the road unsustainable for mobility for Sokoto State citizens and Nigerians;

Resolves to:

(i) urge the Federal Ministry of Works to course emergency repairs of the road, particularly sections 3, and 4, from Tukuyum to Kurya junction and Subhana Bridge near Gandi Town, respectively, in 2025 budget estimates;

(ii) also urge the Federal Ministry of Works to provide for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Rabah-Bakura Junction Road in the 2025 budget estimate; and

(iii) mandate the Committees on Works, Appropriations and Legislative Compliance, to ensure compliance.

Debate:

Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu moved the motion on the call to reconstruct the Rabah–Bakura junction road and it was seconded by Hon. Nnamdi Ezechi. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House committee on Works, Appropriations as well as that on Legislative Compliance.

12. Need to Compel Oil and Gas Companies to End Gas Flaring and Convert same to Electricity and Build Cottage Hospital to Host Communities in Eleme,Tai Oyibo:

​Hon.  Felix Uche Nwaeke:

The House:

Notes that Nigeria has abundant reserves of natural gas, estimated at over 100 trillion cubic meters, qualifying the country to be one of the countries with proven gas reserves and having significant waste flared around its environs;

Also notes that Oyigbo, Eleme, and Tai Local Government Areas in Rivers State contributes greatly to the nation’s oil and gas, hosting over ten (10) flow stations in Oyigbo and two (2) flow stations in Tai and Eleme, thus, housing over two refineries out of the four refineries in Nigeria;

Further notes that flared gas is a major cheap source of electricity capable of taking care of the power needs of host communities and even beyond, that may turn the economic growth of the country through small and medium-scale businesses;

Aware that the large volume of gas flared has an enormously devastating effect on the populace in the host communities, ranging from various health issues, soil fertility loss, corrosion of roofing sheets, agricultural decline, and biodiversity depletion;

Concerned that the deliberate refusal by the oil and gas companies to tackle the menace could generate protests and agitations that may sometimes cripple the economy and cause the loss of precious human lives;

Cognizant that with the environmental hazards of gas flaring resulting in humongous revenue losses, there is a need to compel the oil and gas companies to activate their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) and build quality Cottage Hospital at Oyigbo and provide electricity to Eleme and Tai Communities, taking advantage of the new Electricity Act, 2023;

Resolves to:

(i) Urge the Federal Ministries of Power, Petroleum Resources, and other relevant agencies of government to compel the oil and gas producing companies engaged in gas flaring to immediately build cottage hospitals, as well as convert flared gases to electricity for the benefit of Oyigbo, Tai, and Eleme Federal Constituencies; and

(ii) mandate the Committee on Legislative Compliance and Host Communities to ensure implementation.

Debate:

Hon. Felix Nwaeke moved the motion on the need to compel oil and gas companies to end gas flaring and convert same to electricity and build cottage hospitals to host communities in Eleme,Tai Oyibo.

Hon. Nnoli Nnaji proposed an amendment to prayer 1 of the motion to add all other host communities to be beneficiaries. The motion was voted on, adopted as amended and referred to the House Committee on Host Communities as well as that on Legislative Compliance.

13. Need to Investigate Incessant Occurrence of Domestic Gas Explosions in Nigeria:

​Hon. Abdulhakeem Kamilu Ado​​​Hon. Umar Muktar Zakari:

The House:

Notes the frequent domestic gas explosions that have caused immense pain, suffering, and loss of lives and destruction of most communities;

Also notes that the recent surge in domestic gas explosions has left a trail of devastation across the nation, with over 50 reported incidents in 2022 alone, resulting in avoidable deaths of innocent citizens, county injuries, and the destruction of properties worth millions of naira;

Aware that the pain inflicted by domestic gas explosions is not limited to the physical injuries sustained by the victims, as the psychological trauma is immense, leaving survivors in fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders and leading to a high rate of suicidality;

Cognizant of the roles of regulatory agencies like the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), etc, and their inability to checkmate this trend, as well as the proliferation of G2S retail outlets situated even in residential areas across the country;

Also cognizant of the urgent need to address domestic gas explosions and unsafe trinities through a multipronged implementation strategy including public education, stricter safety regulations and effective enforcement mechanisms.

Resolves to:

(i)​Mandate the Committee on Gas Resources to:

(a) investigate the immediate and remote cause of the recent domestic gas explosions and identify potential safety hazards in the gas industry;

(b) review existing safety regulations and make recommendations for strengthening them;

(c) monitor the implementation of safety regulations by the NUPRC as well as other related state and non-state organizations and ensure that it is effectively enforcing them; and

(d) engage stakeholders in the Gas Industry to develop strategies for preventing future gas explosions and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.

Debate:

Hon. Abdulhakeem Zakari moved the motion on the need to investigate incessant occurrence of domestic gas explosions in Nigeria and it was seconded by Hon. Blessing Amadi. Hon. Bashiru Usman proposed an amendment to incorporate the House Committee on Safety Regulations into the prayers of the motion. The motion was voted on, adopted and referred to the House Committee on Gas Resources as well as that on Safety.

  _________________________________________________________________________________________

Adjournment:

The House at 14:42 PM adjourned plenary to Wednesday, February 14th, 2024 by 11:00 A.M following a motion for adjournment moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere and seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda

Courtesy:

Media Unit, Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives.

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Nigeria becomes first country to introduce new 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis – WHO

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By Francesca Hangeior

Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine – Men5CV – recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), to protect people against meningitis.

The World Health body, in a statement on Friday, said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of Meningococcus bacteria and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries in Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted that in 2023, there was a 50 per cent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of the 36 Nigerian states between October 2023 and March 2024.
The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on March 25–28, 2024, to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis is a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathogens.

“Symptoms often include headache, fever, and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y, and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

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Speaker Abbas mourns Ogbonnaya Onu

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By Gloria Ikibah
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Abbas Tajudeen, has expressed sadness over the death of Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, one of the founding fathers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who died on Thursday.
Chief Onu, who was the first civilian governor of Abia State, served as the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. He was aged 72.
Speaker Abbas, in his condolence message through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Musa Abdullahi Krishi, described the late Onu as a brilliant scholar, excellent engineer, disciplined politician and an elder statesman, whose passion for democracy and good governance was immeasurable.
The Speaker recalled how Chief Onu, as the national chairman of the defunct All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), worked with leaders of other progressive legacy political parties to form the APC, with the aim of changing the country for the better.
Speaker Abbas commiserated with the Onu family, the people, and governments of Ebonyi and Abia States, while praying to God to grant him eternal rest.
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Hospital detains my wife, newborn triplets over unpaid bills – Physically–challenged photographer cries out

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My name is Maxwell Matthew. I was born in 1992. I am from Kogi State but I have lived in Edo State since childhood. I studied Biochemistry at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, in the state. Before that, I ran a national diploma in Science Laboratory Technology at the Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi. I have been a photographer right from my secondary school days. I am married and live in Benin City with my wife. I am the first child of my family.

Were you born disabled?

No, I have not always been disabled. In 2014, I was involved in an accident when I was on my to cover a wedding in Benue State, and that was how I became disabled.

How has it been for you since then?

That year when I had that accident, I was about to enter the major seminary of the Catholic Church. So, I was in the hospital for almost a year. In 2015, I decided not to go back to the seminary because I was in a wheelchair.

All through the time I was in the hospital, I was confined to a wheelchair. I had to reach out to my catholic priest and tell him of my condition.

I told him that even if I were then on a wheelchair, I would love to go back to school. I had to sit the United Tertiary Matriculation Examination all over. I wrote the exam in a wheelchair. I also sat the Post-UTME and passed both. That was how I got admitted to study Biochemistry at AAU.

After a while, I started using a walker, the one that has four legs, to move. After a while, I was asked to start using crutches. So, from my 200 level to my final year, I was using crutches, and have been using them ever since.

What spurred you to continue schooling despite the disability?

I don’t want to be seen as a liability. I don’t want to have to beg to eat or be seen as a beggar simply because I have a disability.

I want to fulfill my destiny, and my life does not lie on my leg that was cut off. Whenever I go to the hospital, I always tell the nurses to stop telling me sorry because my head was not cut off.

If it was my head was cut off, then I would know that life is over. But, I am still alive. That means there is hope. I want to fulfill the destiny that God kept for me.

Education is part of the process that refines us to become who God wants us to become. I am the first child of my family, and I want to also be a role model to other of my siblings; because I feel that, if I give up now, it will affect my younger ones and those who are looking up to me.

This is why I decided to pick up the mess I found myself in and turn it into a message to the world so that the world would see that disability is not inability.

This was also why I reached out to my reverend father and he encouraged me to go back to school. He also supported me financially and morally. He was the one who bought my first JAMB form for me.

What are the difficulties you’ve faced so far?

The difficulties I faced, most especially during school days were the accessibility to the lecture rooms and the distance. It was not easy for me.

God helped me through, and a lot of people were involved in assisting me. My coursemates were nice to me and there for me. They helped me and assisted me in a way they could.

Was there any time you felt discriminated against?

Yes, of course. Discrimination has become part of me. A physically challenged person or a person living with a disability would always receive discrimination from one or two people in the community. Although we have loving people, who are always there to show us love, there are many good people out there who are ready to assist us.

Recently, I went to a particular church for a programme and I was asked to drop my crutches on the floor. They warned me never to put my crutches on the chair but on the floor. It got me so saddened. I looked at the usher in disbelief. I kept asking myself why an usher in the house of God would treat me like that. Those crutches are my legs; why should I drop them on the floor?

The pastor, who did not know what was going on, picked up the microphone and expressed anger. He wondered why I would be arguing with the ushers and disturbing the church. I was so embarrassed that day that I felt like the ground should open up and swallow me. I eventually walked out of the church feeling down, bad, angry, and deeply embarrassed.

There are always people who discriminate against me, even when I am trying to enter a public vehicle and some public places. As we receive warm welcomes sometimes, we also receive not-so-good ones at other times.

Some people don’t treat us well. I wouldn’t say because some people are not treating us well, we shouldn’t talk about those empathise with us.

Even during my service year, it was a wonderful experience, from my service to my PPA, God has always placed wonderful people on my way and I enjoyed my service year.

Where did you serve?

I served in the Edo State House of Assembly in Benin, and from 2022 to 2023; I was attached to the House of Assembly.

Did you get support from family?

My parents have been so wonderful. They always want to see me happy. I do not have anything to regret. My siblings, my friends, and especially two of my friends that I met at Auchi Polytechnic, have all been there for me.

How did you meet your wife?

Hmm… It’s been a wonderful experience getting married to my wife. I had known her from our secondary school days, but we were just distant friends. We didn’t live close to each other.

Funnily enough, she was a junior student in my secondary school. But, somehow, when she was serving, I was in my 300 level. One day, she reached out to me after she heard about my accident, and empathised with me. Apparently, since the accident, she had not been able to reach out to me.

So, she said that she would come to visit me. She asked me for my address and I sent it to her. So, when she got to Benin, I went to pick her up from a popular junction. When she saw me, she was shocked because she never knew how bad my accident was. We both went to the office where I was doing my internship. We spent the day together and she left.

We kept communicating until we fell in love. It was clear that we were both interested in each other.

At that time, a catholic priest encouraged me to settle down with a good lady. Then, I didn’t know how to go about it. He advised me to check amongst my friends and look for a good lady.

So, one day, I called my father and told him that there was a female friend of mine who came around and we used to know each other from secondary school. My father encouraged me to talk to her, so I later opened up to her.

What was her reaction when you told her?

It was like the same thing that was on her mind because there was no rejection or a no from her. It was as if she was expecting it.

What was the reaction of her family?

The truth is that, from the very first day, there was no discrimination, I was warmly welcomed by her dad and mum, and then I left.

It was after I left that I learnt that some distant relations, not the immediate family, started questioning my wife’s parents on why they would allow their daughter to marry a man with a disability.

You know there will always be bad eggs in the family. The tussle lasted for some months, but the parents stood their ground that since the daughter said it was me she wanted, they were going to support her.

The father called me and said I should bring my family to do the right thing. They also said they were not expecting a big wedding. They encouraged me to come with whatever I could afford and do the traditional marriage.

What year did you get married?

We got married in 2022 and we just gave birth to triplets. They were born on Good Friday.

So what was that thing that attracted you to your wife?

I will tell you that discipline is one of the core values that I saw in her. She is well-trained and an easygoing person. Then, we share the same ideologies. When you meet a real friend, you won’t have difficulty getting along with such a person.

She is not just my wife but she is my friend and sister. To date, she doesn’t look at my weaknesses or disability; she only concentrates on my ability. She became a good photographer because she was ready to learn.

When she told me she wanted to go and learn photography, I asked her if she wanted to learn because I am also a photographer, and she said no. Today, she is a good photographer and even better than I am.

Where is she from and how old is she?

She is from Isoko-North LGA in Delta State and I am a year older than her.

How did you feel when you heard about the news of the arrival of your triplets?

It was a mixed feeling, A few months into her pregnancy; we discovered that she was carrying triplets. I saw it as a challenge. I always had this feeling that whatever came my way, I could handle; not because I had the resources at hand but because God made it to come my way. That means God wants me to face it.

So, when I received the news, I was excited and joyful. At the same time, I began to wonder how I was going to survive in the economic situation. I am not that stable with my photographer. I just rounded off my national service. I don’t have a job that can sustain me and the family yet.

But, my wife has been a wonderful woman, very contented and managing what we have. She doesn’t complain or put pressure on me. She is a very strong woman who believes in me and that I can take care of her with the little I have, she never felt discouraged.

Since she gave birth on a Good Friday, she has been in the hospital with our triplets.

Why hasn’t she been discharged?

We’ve not completed our payments. The first bill we received was N455,000. I begged the doctor to reduce the money, explaining my condition, but there was no consideration.

I was only able to deposit N156,000. After some time, they brought another bill again, and up till now, my wife and triplets are still in the hospital.

So now, we still owe them close to N400,000 but I wouldn’t know what the next bill would be like including payment for the days they’ve been spending in the hospital.

I need good Nigerians to help me get a good job because if we can find our way to bring them out of the hospital, I need to take care of them and I wouldn’t want to keep managing terribly.

The mother and the babies have been in the hospital for more than two weeks now. They are in the Intensive Care Unit and are currently on oxygen because they are preterm babies kept in the incubator.

We need financial assistance to be able to take care of the children as I am not buoyant enough; I also need an artificial limb for easy movement.

Do you have a child before the triplets?

Yes, we have a son. The triplets are two boys and a girl. So, we have three boys and one girl in total.

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