By Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru & Emman Ovuakporie
The Police High Command yesterday in Abuja exonerated its officers who reportedly attacked members of the National Assembly Thursday, from any blame saying that the officers carried out their duties of barricading the complex to prevent Speaker Aminu Tambuwal from gaining access, satisfactorily.
Also Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu said that “No Commissioner of Police will ever embark on such an action without the clearance of the Inspector General of police and no IGP will order his men out without approval by the Presidency. Nigerians know where the buck stops. The Jonathan Presidency must take full responsibility for the attack on the leadership of the National Assembly.”
The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Suleiman Abba, who spoke at a short interview with State House correspondents said that the police were investigating the incident and would make the findings and actions to be taken public soon. Abba’s said, “Who did what and who didn’t do what will be disclosed to you later. You know we work with investigations, investigations are going on and the press officer will address you.
“Are you saying you are not aware of this operation? I still repeat, who did what, who didn’t do what you will hear later. It is subject to investigations we just don’t talk anyhow.
“Everybody has seen that somebody was even beating somebody, somebody was pushing a policeman from the car. Somebody was removing road blocks mounted by police, we have never seen this kind of thing in the whole world . So we will talk to you later. Just wait our findings will reveal.”
Also speaking at a separate news conference, the Police Force Public Relations Officer, Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said that the officers acted according to their discretion.
Ojukwu said that six persons had been arrested in connection with the fracas adding that all those found culpable will be prosecuted on completion of investigations.
This was even as members of the House of Repres-entatives Committee on Police Affairs, yesterday shunned representatives of the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr Sulaiman Abba, who appeared before it to answer questions on why the police allegedly unleashed terror on National Assembly members on Thursday.
The PDP however asked the police authorities investigate the circumstances leading to the siege on the National Assembly saying that the sanctity of the assembly as an arm of government and citadel of democracy must be upheld at all times
But, the Chairman of the Peps Committee on the Police Affairs, Usman Kumho told Abba’s representatives led by Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Sotonye Nwakama, that the police boss must appear in person to answer the questions on the issue.
“After consultations with my fellow lawmakers, we decided to pick November 26 for the IG to appear before us,” Kumbo said, adding that it was the duty of the National Assembly to summon anybody to answer questions on any issue.
According to him, the only man who can answer the questions on the issue at stake was the IGP himself, and not his representatives.
The committee had on Thursday after the police harassment of lawmakers at the National Assembly summoned the IGP to come and explain his roles on the matter. Abba, had however replied the committee, saying that he would be unavoidably absent at yesterday’s hearing.
However, speaking at a news conference, the police Spokesman said: “The policemen on ground acted according to their discretion and to the best of their ability. I am satisfied with what the police men did yesterday, the thing is that law and order must be respected at all costs and at all times.”
He insisted that the police mounted the cordon following intelligence reports and comments attributed to stalwarts of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, who had earlier on Wednesday picketed the Police Force headquarters and promised to invade the offices of INEC, the National Assembly and the Presidency.
Ojukwu argued that other members of the National Assembly who conducted themselves in an orderly manner were searched and cleared to enter the premises.
On the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, he alleged that he had hinted that he would arrive with a motley crowd of thugs and bad elements.
‘The speaker came with thugs, refused to be searched and six of the hoodlums (members) attacked a police man, after which the police tear-gassed the Speaker and his riotous crowd so as to restore order,’’ he added.
He denied that the police acted at the behest of the President President Goodluck Jonathan over the issue just as it was untrue that the police allegedly locked the gate on sighting the Speaker.
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday asked the IGP, Suleiman Abba to as a matter of urgency institute a full investigation into the circumstances which led to the heavy presence of armed security operatives at National Assembly and the prevention of Speaker Tambuwal and other lawmakers from gaining access to the complex to deliberate on the extension of emergency rule in the North-East.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, who spoke gave the police, 72 hours to unravel the facts surrounding the development.
Metuh said, “In the light of accusations and counter accusations, over the unfortunate incident that led to the shutdown of the National Assembly on Thursday, the National Working Committee of the PDP has called on the IGP to institute full inquiry to unravel the circumstances and facts surrounding the development within the next 72 hours.
“The sanctity of the National Assembly as an arm of government and citadel of democracy must be upheld at all times… the matter should not be shrouded in controversy, sinister plots and mundane accusations.
“While we acknowledge that due to the security challenges in the country, the security agencies are within their constitutional powers to search individuals and ensure that only responsible and duly accredited persons gain entrance into the National Assembly complex, we wish to state in strongest possible terms that the PDP is fully with the President in not condoning any act that might indicate that the police went beyond their bounds in the incident.
Reacting to the attack on the Speaker, the National leader of the opposition party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu said:
By deploying hundreds of Police to prevent the Speaker of the House from entering the National Assembly, the President has revealed his hand to be a devious one. Having asked the Speaker to convene the House to consider extending the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, the Jonathan government then deployed the nation’s Police to stop the fourth ranking citizen of the nation from entering his place of work.
“Despite the removal of the Policemen and Security team around him he still proceeded at great personal risk to answer the call of duty. He took the risk, believing his personal situation was a secondary thing when the fate of the nation comes into question.
“No Commissioner of Police will ever embark on such an action without the clearance of the Inspector General of police and no IGP will order his men out here without approval by the Presidency. Nigerians know where the buck stops. The Jonathan Presidency must take full responsibility for the attack on the leadership of the National Assembly.”
“Instead of seriously treating Boko Haram’s incursion against our internal security, the President’s men decided to turn the event into a partisan and embarrassing circus. Perhaps they saw this as a birthday present to Mr. President. But it is nothing but brigandage masquerading as governance. What this Presidency does not realize is how terribly it has exposed its pettiness and dictatorial penchant for elevating narrow political interests above the fate of the nation.’” Tinubu said.