The member representing Gwer East, Gwer West
Federal Constituency in the House of
Representatives, Hon. Mark Gbillah and the Tiv
nation in Benue State have demanded an apology
from the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase
for rejecting their petition against the federal
government on the alleged take over of other
It will be recalled that Gbillah had at plenary on
Wednesday presented a petition from the Tiv
petition resident in the United States.
He said: “Mr Speaker, I have a petition from the
Mutual Union of Tiv in America against the federal
government of Nigeria. And the issue has to do
with the ancestral land of the Tiv people that
seems to have been possessed in recent times
through various attacks and the facts that they are
languishing in IDPs camps without any intervention.
With your kind permission, Mr Speaker, I want to lay
this petition before this honourable House.”
But the petition was not accepted by the presiding
officer, Wase who queried the status of the
association in the Corporate Affairs Commission,
CAC of Nigeria.
Wase had reasoned that the people, though
Nigerians could not claim to be in the know of the
happening as to make an informed decision on the
subject matter since they were not living in the
country and following the trends of events.
He also countered Gbillah who referred him to
section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, saying that
some of the people though Nigerians schooling in
America had rights under the law.
Gbillah had also stated that the Nigerian Diaspora
Commission was established to cater to the
citizens living abroad.
“Honourable Gbillah, did you say Tivs in America? If
they are in America, could they really be an
interested party here? Could they really know
exactly what is going on?
“I’ll refer you to the functions of the committee on
diaspora, if you go through that, it is nothing
relevant to what you’re now presenting, I’m not
convinced that we have to take that petition,” Wase
So far, the issue has caused outrage among
Nigerians as the video has gone viral on social
Gbillah said that he was shocked by the deputy
Speaker’s statement, reminding him that the
presiding officers were not superiors to the rest of
“I was completely shocked and outraged when I
tried to present the petition. Unfortunately for the
Deputy Speaker and me, I did not carry the
standing orders of the House on that day because
at no point did I envisage that I have to refer to
them to defend the presentation of a petition
because the standing order did not require any
conditions or give the presiding officer any power
like the speaker claimed for it to be at his leave to
accept a petition.
“There is no such position and it is important at this
point to remind the Deputy Speaker and the
leadership of the House that they serve at the leave
of their colleagues. They are first among equals.
They are not superior to us and so none of us gave
them the power to deny the opportunity to present
petitions from our people.
“And he himself put the House to shame by his
statement which has now gone viral because
Nigerians in Diaspora are outraged. It’s no longer
about me or the Tiv nation. It was a Tiv petition
from the mutual union of Tiv people in America but
the Oduduwa, Ndigbo, Hausa, others are now
alarmed. So, they are in Diaspora and have no
representation on the floor of the House.
That is ludicrous and that displays the concern
about the deputy Speaker’s understanding of the
constitutional provisions as enshrined in section 40
about the rights of Nigerians. When we should be
going into the realm of giving them voting rights in
Diaspora like it is done in other climes, he was
busy asking me whether they were registered by
the CAC or in Nigeria. So, if even if they had dual
citizenship like he was mentioning, does that mean
they don’t have rights? This is unheard of.
“So, we are demanding an apology from the Deputy
Speaker and he will receive a barrage of petitions
from across the world for his statements which
show a clear cut intention to disenfranchise a
people and the Tiv nation is not taking that lightly
at all. We wonder whether there is a premeditated
agenda he had against our people being from the
When contacted for the deputy speaker’s reaction,
his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Mohammed said
he was working on a press statement to that effect.
But as at the time of filing this report, the
statement was yet to be made available.