• I’m in Abuja to make law, am not failing in by responsibilities -Hon. Igbakpa
ABUJA -Niger Delta rights advocates have accused one of the region’s lawmakers, Hon. Ben Igbakpa, member house of representatives, representing Ethiope East and West federal constituency, Delta state for instructing security operatives of the National Assembly to deny them from gaining entrance to the house of representatives complex in Abuja on penultimate week.
This was contained in a statement signed by Comrade Monday Enudi and Comrade Isreal Arigbe on behalf of the human rights Abuja delegation which a copy was sent to newsmen on Monday.
The statement reads: “You know except you are cleared, you can’t have entry into the National Assembly complex. So we called Hon. Ben Igbakpa, house of representatives member, representing Ethiope East and West federal constituency to clear us upon our arrival, but surprisingly instead of clearing us, he instructed the security operatives to block us out.
The rights activists who vowed to declare war against Hon. Ben Igbakpa insisted that he instructed security operatives to block them from gaining access to the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
“We called and got his assurance to clear us before we left for Abuja on Monday. We equally called him on Tuesday morning before proceeding to the National Assembly complex which he appeared to be ready to receive us but when we got there we called him to clear us, he was no longer picking calls. We called severally he bluntly refused to respond. The security operatives resisted our entry.
The rights advocates reiterated that it was evil and a lost of good sense of reasoning for a Niger Delta lawmaker to lock door against his people in every regard.
The statement reiterated: “We were restrained at the gate of the complex untill an Akwa-Ibom senator (name withheld) cleared the civil rights delegation into the national assembly complex.
“When we finished briefing the press within the assembly complex, we proceeded to his office again, right at his office entrance, the security operatives there blocked us again, insisting that the Hon. Members don’t want to see anybody. They claimed, “We are instructed not to allow you in. Please call him!”. At that point we called severally again but he refused to respond until we left.”
“We are disappointed in him. We thought he is reasonable. unlike the other lawmakers whose attention were drawn to the intended removal of section 162 from the Constitution who displayed their insensitivity to the region’s sufferings from the start”, they gueried.
When contacted, the convener Barrister Omes Ogedegbe, stated how he called Honourable Julius Pondi and Honourable Nicholas Mutu with both of them refusing to see anything wrong with the intention to delete section 162 of the Constitution that empowers the oil bearing state to derivation.
The rights lawyer maintained that Hon. Ben Igbakpa assured the group of his readiness to receive them in Abuja and fixed Tuesday 26th October, 2021 for them to come over to Abuja to deliver their position hence they proceeded to storm the national assembly but surprisingly he disappeared.
“We never went there on our personal matter but on the purported bill to delete 13% derivation from the 1999 constitution (as amended). We only went to awaken our sleeping lawmakers to properly defend our region, having noticed their nonchalant attitude towards constitutional matters regarding the Niger Delta in the recent times.
They further stated,
“It is glaring that we will not support or vote these insensitive politicians again. It is now done on us that Igbakpa and his co-travellers can no longer protect our interest as a region. We will come up with our further positions on this matter”.
Reacting to the aggrieved constituents, Hon. Ben Igbakpa, member house of representatives, representing Ethiope East and West federal constituency, said he never agree to take responsibility for the trip of the Delta state human rights delegation that visited Abuja as regards the alleged move to delete the 13% derivation clause from the 1996 constitution (as amended).
He reiterated: “I’m not suppose to be responsible for everyone that comes to Abuja. I’m here as their representative. I’m here to make law and to do oversight functions. I don’t have the money to pay bills for everyone that comes to Abuja”.
Hon. Igbakpa continues: “I don’t suppose to be in charge of anyone that comes to the federal capital. I can’t stop anyone from coming to Abuja. It belongs to everyone. Your coming to Abuja for a course you deem to fight shouldn’t be my responsibility.
“I had an election. It was not everyone in my community, in the state or Ethiope constituency that voted or supported me. I’m here to make law. I am not failing in my responsibility. We are not plucking money in Abuja”.
He further narrated: “Where do you expect me to have money to pay bills for everyone that comes to Abuja?. I didn’t invite Comrades to come to Abuja. I didn’t send for them. Did they told you that I sent them a letter of invitation to come to Abuja?”, he queried.
“If they call me that they are coming to Abuja. Do I have the power to stop them from coming to Abuja?, I never discussed with them that I will be responsible for their coming. I have a responsible, and my responsibility is to make law and not to sit in Abuja to receive everyone that comes to Abuja. Some of my family members or constituents when they come to Abuja, they don’t bother me. Some may just call and we exchange pleasantries. We don’t even see most times. I don’t know why they are saying I have to be responsible for their bills”, he added.
On the part of one of the conveners, Ogedegbe, Esq, their mission was to deliver the position of the Niger Delta people on the gazetted bill to delete section 162 of the Constitution and would not want to discourage the efforts of Hon. Ben Igbakpa who seem to be the only lawmaker willing to act in opposition to the bill, though his conduct was most unfortunate but he would not berate him.
The lawyer faulted that the honourable member failed as nobody expected him to pay bills for over twenty persons who were part of the delegation from the state.
The rights lawyer insisted, “he gave us an appointment for Tuesday only to have ignored our calls. With the Calibre of persons that went for the visit you know there was no way they were expecting financial gratification from him. The annoyance was his failure to receive our position as discussed and arranged. There was no financial infant in that visit, we all are persons of decent living” he asserted.