Ben Igbakpa, a member of the house of representatives, has raised concern over President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that a lawmaker is among those allegedly sponsoring terrorism.
Igbakpa, lawmaker representing Ethiope East/Ethiope West federal constituency of Delta state, spoke on the floor of the green chamber on Tuesday.
While delivering his Independence Day speech on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari had said high-profile individuals, including a member of the national assembly, are those financing secessionist leaders like Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.
Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) — the group was declared a terrorist organisation in 2017.
While moving a point of privilege on Tuesday, Igbakpa said the 496 members of the national assembly are now seen as suspects, because the president didn’t name the lawmaker involved.
He also said he was questioned for hours when he visited Ghana, because of the pronouncement of the president.
“In the course of Mr President’s address to the nation, I was very happy when he paid tribute to the functions of the parliament and how much we have helped him to ensure that we have done a lot,” he said.
“But going further to paragraph 33 of the address, Mr president, in his address which was widely publicised, carried by BBC, CNN and other media houses across the world, told the world that one of us is sponsoring terrorism.
“Mr speaker, that means 469 members of this national assembly are prime suspects.
“On that fateful day, I went to Akure to be part of the burial ceremony of our former colleague. On Saturday, I had to honour an invitation to Ghana for a wedding. Mr speaker, it will amaze you what I faced at the hands of Ghanaian officials.
“They kept me for about four hours, that they are trying to confirm something. I stayed at the airport for four hours, missed the wedding that I went there for and at the end of the day, one of them walked up to me and said ‘sir, we are sorry because there is an announcement in Nigeria that a member of parliament is sponsoring terrorism; we are out on red alert to ensure that no member of parliament from Nigeria comes here to hide or to cause trouble’.
“I had to come back home, dejected. I lost my respect and my privilege as a member of this chamber. They have been calling me all over the world. My friends have been telling me: ‘who among you is that person sponsoring terrorists?’”
Igbakpa said the right thing for the president to have done is to identify the lawmaker.
“All of us here are prime suspects. If you go outside Nigeria and you are a member of parliament, you are a prime suspect,” he said.
The lawmaker asked the leadership of the house to urge the president to name the serving lawmaker “that is sponsoring terrorism as he claimed”.
He also asked the federal government to prosecute the person involved, “as it wrong to throw a blanket accusation”.
Ruling on the matter, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, said “your point of privilege is noted”.