The House of Representatives has denied a back-door amendment of the Standing Orders of the House, which contains rules guiding the conduct of legislative business in the chamber.
An online medium (not The PUNCH) had in a now-deleted report claimed that the rules of the House had been secretly amended ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June, to restrict members ‘open ballot’ in the speakership and deputy speakership elections.
The chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, who chaired the panel that reviewed the rules book in 2019, however, dismissed the report on Tuesday.
Ihonvbere, in a statement released by the Secretariat of the ‘Joint Task – 10th Assembly’, a coalition of members-elect of the All Progressives Congress and opposition parties, recalled how the House, on July 25, 2019, unanimously considered and adopted the report by his panel on a series of amendments to the Standing Orders of the House.
The lawmaker also denied interference by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, in the process.
Ihonvbere, a member of the APC from Edo State, was Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the Standing Orders of the House of Reps; ex-Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on the Legislative Agenda of the House of Reps; and ex-Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on the Revision of the Legislative Agenda of the House of Reps.
The lawmaker wrote, “FOR THE RECORDS: Anyone insinuating the House Rules was forged to allow OPEN voting is either ignorant of what the members of the House of Representatives passed at plenary on Thursday, July 25, 2019, or is mischievous or intend to manipulate the election process of the 10th House against the rule of law.”
Ihonvbere made reference to Page 32 of the Gazetted Votes and Proceedings July 25, 2019, in the House’s Gazette of Votes and Proceedings Official Records.
The lawmaker also provided a copy of the document showing how the lawmakers votes on the clauses.
The statement read, “Let me state very clearly that I was the chairman of the ad hoc committee that reviewed our standing orders. Those that know me can attest to the fact that I adhere to the highest levels of integrity in any assignment I undertake. The process was transparent and in line with our Rules.
“Mr Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, did NOT interfere once in our deliberations. I never had even a one-on-one meeting with the Speaker throughout the process. The committee finalised its work and it was laid out accordingly…The rest is history.
“It is not my wish to take up issues on the merit and demerits of the recommended and approved process. For now, let me state very categorically that the document was not tampered with in any way. As Democrats, we must all refrain from trying to corrupt, contaminate or compromise the democratic process in any way.”