It has been reported that some Nigerians living in Canada have been allegedly assaulted by speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. Led by its Chairman, Rt Hon. Abubakar Suleiman, the speakers were on a seven-day study visit to Canada. They visited to study the legislative processes in government and capacity-building programs to further enhance and strengthen their capacity as lawmakers. It was during this period that some Nigerian residents in Canada approached them to deliver a protest message to President Muhammadu Buhari.
This request made the lawmakers to lose their temper and throw caution to the wind. It was reported that the speakers manhandled some of the Nigerians and it took the intervention of the police in Canada to calm the situation. One of the assaulted said that the visitation of the lawmakers was published in the newspapers and spread round the Nigerian community in Canada. This was including pictures and videos of their meetings, which were published on social media.
Impromptu meeting with the Speakers results in a face-off.
The victim said that he had expected a meet-and-greet with the Nigerian community by the lawmakers, but none had been planned nor published in their itinerary. When he discovered that they would be leaving for Niagara Falls on the morning of September 23, 2022, he called out to a couple of his comrades to join him in delivering a protest message to the Nigerian government through these speakers. The impromptu nature of the meeting did not allow many to be available. However, the victim and Mr. Jerry Okoro were able to track the Nigerian officials to the lobby of a hotel.
The victim said that when they reached the lobby, they greeted the team and asked for their leader. He said he told them that he and his comrade were there on behalf of Nigerians living in Canada to deliver a message to the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. The others pointed out Abubakar Suleiman as the leader of the group and the victim introduced himself. At that point, the speaker from Cross River State, Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey, listened to him calmly but a colleague of his insisted that he should not listen nor respond to them. The victim narrated that the Nigerian officials manhandled them until the police in Canada intervened.
The Nigerians had a message of displeasure about happenings in Nigeria.
The Nigerians’ message, which they came to deliver to the speakers of the House of Assemblies, was regarding their displeasure with the happenings in Nigeria as well as the fact that students were out of school for seven months. But as the victim was delivering this message and Speaker Bassey was listening, another speaker started pushing Bassey away and blocking the camera. The situation escalated and the hotel manager had no choice but to ask the aggrieved Nigerians to leave the hotel.
The victim said that as they were leaving, the leader of the group, Abubakar Suleiman, grabbed his hands. Other colleagues were also threatening to beat him up. The police intervened by asking them to go back to the hotel but not near the lawmakers. The victim said that the police took a report of what happened. However, the victim said that the organizer of the event, Abi Goodman, used profanity on him and threatened to deal with him. The organizer was also said to have promised to sue them in court.
This isn’t the first-time lawmakers would be accused of assault.
This would not be the first time that Nigerian lawmakers would be accused of assaulting fellow citizens. On March 15, 2022, a Nigerian comedian, Franklin Ozuruigbo, accused the Deputy speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Amara Iwuanyanwu, of allegedly assaulting him. He claimed that he had been tricked to the deputy speaker’s lodge, deceived into waiting for the lawmaker, and ordered to be beaten up for his skits on social media. Also, in October 2016, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, said in a letter to the then speaker Yakubu Dogara that Mohammed Galolo, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah sought to patronize prostitutes and made attempts to rape a hotel housekeeper.