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House of Reps threatens to arrest, prosecute anyone who fights within its chambers

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The House of Representatives has threatened to arrest any member or group of persons who would constitute themselves into a nuisance within the confines of the National Assembly Complex in the future.

The warning was issued in a statement on Friday by the spokesman of the House, Benjamin Kalu who was reacting to a fight that erupted on Thursday in Abuja between members of the oil host communities in the Niger Delta region during a public hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He said that the House was disappointed by the unhealthy development, stressing that the action defiled and desecrated the sanctity of the parliament.

Titled “Re: Scuffle at the Public Hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill the statement read thus in full: “The House is appalled at the scuffle which broke out between certain participants from the host communities at the public hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2020 on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

“The actions of these culprits were contemptuous and constituted a breach of the sanctity of the House. Fortunately, they were immediately escorted out of the building and proceedings continued peacefully for the rest of the hearing.

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“This 9th House of Representatives was predicated upon the tenet of nation-building as a joint task and our compliance with the due process of public hearings is a manifestation of our commitment to that tenet. Public hearings are a critical aspect of law-making.

“They are an opportunity to invite views from critical stakeholders on legislative interventions and are not an opportunity for virulent altercations or physical combat. Therefore, the House will not hesitate to ensure the arrest and prosecution of any offender who perpetrates a similar occurrence in the future.

“Within the chambers of this great institution of democracy, and indeed in all parts of Nigeria, we must learn to deliberate and resolve our differences with the grace, dignity and mutual respect that democracy demands.

“The deliberation of the PIB is to provide legal backing and protection for the development of host communities and for the collective good of the nation; a balance of interest between stakeholders of the petroleum sector.

“Therefore, our ability to dissent peacefully and our ability to treat each other with dignity and respect even in the face of disagreement will play a key role in determining the success of one of the ideals for which this legislation is being considered; that grievance can be properly addressed without violence and chaos in our host communities.

“The House remains on track to pass the PIB by April 2021, mindful that the legislation will reinvigorate the petroleum industry and promote economic growth in the host communities and the nation at large,” it concluded.

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