CHUKWU DAVID reports on the raging battle between the Senate and Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who has consistently shunned the upper legislative chamber over summons for security briefing on incessant killings across the country and the perceived inhuman treatment against Senator Dino Melaye
The National Assembly has not been having the best of times with the executive arm of government under the Muhammadu Buhariled federal government.
However, this frosty relationship between the two arms of government did not start with the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration. It has been the trend since the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, but the situation is getting worse by the day because what Nigerians are seeing on daily basis is a seeming mutual hatred and acrimony.
Some officials of the executive have formed the habit of disrespecting the National Assembly, and the matter has worsened between the Senate and some appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Some of them appear to have vowed not to honour the Senate’s invitations or abide by its resolutions. Officials such as the Comptroller- General of Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd); former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr Babachir Lawal; Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, are instances of officials through which the executive has demonstrated utter disregard for the Senate.
The police boss is currently battling the Senate over an invitation by the Red Chamber to come and brief it on the unending killings in the country, and the case between Senator Dino Melaye and the Nigeria Police Force.
The Senate had summoned the IGP on April 25, to come and brief it in plenary the following day (April 26) on the reasons Senator Melaye was being treated as a common criminal by officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.
It further resolved that the police boss would use the opportunity to also brief the lawmakers on the recent and sustained killings in Benue State, where two catholic priests and 17 Christian worshippers were slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen as well as reported killings by soldiers.
Incidentally, the IGP failed to honour the invitation without any official communication to the Chamber, although the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, got an informal report that Idris was not in Abuja on that day, as he reportedly went to Bauchi in company with President Buhari.
However, he delegated the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations to stand in for him and fave the lawmakers but was rejected by the Senate, who insisted that he must appear in person because he was in better position to give explanations on the issues for which he was summoned.
After members took turn to condemn and lament the disrespect demonstrated by the IGP, the Senate gave him the second of May to appear, which he failed to do, as he also delegated another DIG to represent him.
The DIG was also rejected by the senators, who now mandated the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Abu Ibrahim, to take the matter to President Buhari.
There has been heightening acrimony between the presidency and the National Assembly over the handling of incessant killings in the country, in which the Senate continually accused the Presidency of irresponsibility and insensitivity to the predicaments of the citizenry, as the Executive arm seem to have not taken any drastic actions against the killer herdsmen in the country.
It seems that the critical positions of the Senate on the unsatisfactorily way the Federal Government has been handling the issue of killings across the country has contributed to the disrespectful way the IGP has been treating the apex legislative chamber.
In one of the reactions of the IGP to the invitation of the Senate, through the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Jimoh Moshood, the police boss expressed the opinion that the Senate’s summons to him as a result of the police prosecution of their colleague, Senator Melaye, was self serving.
This impression probably formed the basis for Idris’ decision to dare the lawmakers by ignoring their invitations. The IGP also claimed that the constitution and the Police Act, empowered him to delegate either a DIG or an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), to represent him in any function.
The Senate had exercised sufficient patience by inviting the IGP for the third time, to appear before it last week Wednesday at 11 am. Yet the number one law enforcement officer of the federation disappointed the lawmakers, thereby compelling the parliamentarians to reprimand him severely.
Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had met with President Buhari a fortnight ago, where the President reportedly assured the two presiding officers that the IGP would appear before the parliament.
Therefore, in anger, the Senate, which was highly enraged by the persistent failure of Idris to honour its invitations, made the declaration after a closed-door session that lasted for 45 minutes. The Senate also mandated its leadership to critically look into the matter for further necessary action.
Earlier, midway into the plenary session, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, moved a motion for the Senate to suspend its relevant rules to admit the IGP into the Chamber because it was scheduled on the Order Paper. But Idris was not found anywhere within the National Assembly premises, thereby making it obvious that he had disappointed the Upper Chamber for three consecutive times in three weeks.
He told the Senate that he made frantic efforts to reach the IGP on Tuesday but without success, saying that he could not get him on phone, neither did the Police boss respond to his text message.
Lawan lamented that public office holders ought to act in public interest at all times, stating that any person in public office who is not ready to act in public interest should not continue to occupy such office.
His words: “For the past two days we have tried to reach the IGP to inform him that he should be here today in keeping with our resolution. We have done that with chairman of the police.
Personally, I made attempts to call his line and I sent text messages that he should call me as soon as he was able to see my message. “Clearly, the IGP is not here. I think this is very unusual and very unfortunate.
I personally feel that public officers should do what is in the interest of the public and where any public officer cannot do what is in the interest of the public, there is no need for such an officer to continue to occupy that kind of office.
“This institution is now at a crossroad on this. I believe that a decision has to be taken on way forward. Even though we will always like our security agencies to come and brief us because of the current security situation in the country.
But in a situation where there is consistent non-appearance by the IGP, I don’t think it will make any further sense to continue to extend invitation until the Senate takes a different decision to make the situation better.” Contributing, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, said that the action of the IGP was condemnable and inexcusable.
He urged the Senate to take the matter very seriously and called on the Chamber to go into executive session in order to deliberate on the issue and come up with resolutions on the way forward.
“This is quite a very sad moment for Nigeria; not just for the parliament but for our democracy, that for the very first time an appointee of Mr. President in such sensitive position is disrespecting and disregarding the Senate.
It is sad; it is inexcusable, unacceptable, and condemnable and it calls for immediate action.” Also contributing, Senator Isa Missau (APC, Bauchi Central), said that what Idris is doing to the Senate was not only against the Red Chamber but also against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He said: “I recall that I made mention that there is problem with the leadership of the police.
On official capacity, there is no any person here that is not bigger than the IGP constitutionally. Anybody here can invite the IGP officially because by the constitution, every senator is bigger than the office of the IGP.” On his part, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), warned that the nation’s democracy is dying gradually, challenging the Senate to wake up and salvage the situation.
“Democracy dies in two ways. It either dies abruptly or in bits and what is happening today in Nigeria is that democracy is dying in bits. It dies when people abuse governmental powers and all that we have seen today with the conduct of the chief law officer of the federation is nothing but an abuse of power. “He has no respect for this institution and that is now a fact.
There is actually no way we can dress it to say we should give him some more time. We can say that what he is doing is anything but an abuse of this institution, the federation and himself even in the eyes of the international community.”
In spite of the condemnation of the attitude of the IG towards the Senate by the lawmakers, the force spokesman, Moshood, reacted and said that the Senate is blackmailing the police chief, insisting that Idris had not done anything wrong against the Senate.
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