By Ochereome Nnanna
FEW Nigerians are surprised at the running battles between the Inspector- General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On three separate occasions, he has been invited (or summoned) to clear the air on certain controversies appertaining to his office as the nation’s number one cop. For the third time, he has snubbed the highest legislative chamber of the country.
During the controversy between him and Senator Isa Misau in October last year, IGP Idris had been accused of collecting N120 billion bribes from VIPs for providing them with police escorts. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, set up a committee to probe this allegation. Idris was invited to testify, but he went to court to challenge the power of the Senate to invite him. Justice Abba Bello Muhammad of the FCT High Court, Abuja, who entertained the case, ruled that Idris’ suit lacked merit as Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) empowered the National Assembly to carry out investigations in the public interest and summon anyone who in its view could assist it in doing so. On 9th of November 2017, Idris finally appeared before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee headed by Senator Francis Alimikhena.
The second episode came up in the wake of the ongoing serious security challenges facing the country and the Senate in particular. Apart from the spate of killings by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen around the Middle Belt and South, especially in Benue and Taraba states, police and other security personnel had stood akimbo as a group of eight thugs suspected to be hirelings of suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, stormed the plenary of the Senate, wreaked havoc, abducted the Mace and went scot-free. Up till the time this article was being written, no arrest had been made by the IG’s Special Monitoring Squad set up by IGP Idris.
The third reason he was asked to appear before the Senate on Wednesday 25th April 2018, was that a very vocal senator, Dino Melaye, whom the Police and the Kogi State Government had accused of gun running and sponsoring of criminals, was being rough-handled by police personnel who had arrested him. Idris was required to provide insights as to why these unwholesome events were taking place under his watch. Instead of appearing in person, he chose to send the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, to represent him. IGP Idris went on another assignment in Bauchi State.
Not amused by the representation, the Senate gave IGP Idris another date – Wednesday, 2nd May to appear. They waited, and again, Idris sent a representative and headed to Kaduna. Frustrated and at its wits end, the Senate has given Idris yet another week (two days from today) to appear. Of course, it is only commonsensical to expect him not to appear. The law only empowers the Legislature to order the arrest of anyone who fails to appear before it. Who will arrest an IGP? More pointedly, who will arrest this particular IGP?
IGP Idris has smashed many national records for the wrong reasons. He is the only Police Chief to flagrantly snub the National Assembly. He has joined another “sacred cow” Buhari appointee, retired Colonel Hameed Ali, the Comptroller-General of the Customs who also believes the Senate has no power to summon him. Secondly, Idris is the only Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria’s history to disobey a presidential directive and nothing happened! You will recall that after the New Year Day 2018 massacres in Benue State which claimed 73 lives, President Muhammadu Buhari was pressured into asking the IGP to relocate to Benue and take charge of operations to wipe out the bandits. Idris only met some government officials in Makurdi and flew back to Abuja via Nasarawa State a couple of days later. President Buhari shocked millions of Nigerians when he disclosed he did not know that Idris did not obey his order, yet he did nothing about it.
The question is: if this IGP Idris could brazenly disobey a presidential directive and get away with it, who can call him to order? What can the Senate do to him when he fails to turn up in two days’ time? This is a man who is so highly-placed in the Buhari scheme of things that he was promoted from Police Commissioner to Inspector-General, with many of his seniors sent into early retirement to make way for his ascendancy. This is a man whom the Federal Government joined in fighting his legal battles against Senator Misau, who accused him of massive corruption. This was the man who, as Police Commissioner in Kano State supervised an election which brought extra one million votes for Buhari above the votes cast for National Assembly candidates in 2015. He also quickly declared the fire that exterminated the family of Kano Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mikhail Abdullahi as originating from an “electric spark.”
That IGP Idris can do all these things and go free is very bad for Nigeria’s democracy. It shows he lacks respect for an institution that epitomises our system of governance. What is he afraid of? The Senate and the House of Representatives, say what you like, are mandated to gather on behalf of the citizens of Nigeria. A summons from either of them is a summons from the Nigerian people. An officer paid and kept in authority with our money has no business turning down lawful invitations to clarify issues bugging the minds of ordinary Nigerians such as the massacres, the Mace theft and Dino Melaye’s travails.
Coming to clarify the Melaye issue would not in any way prevent the police from carrying out their lawful duty of prosecuting him for the alleged offences. The Senate has no power to order the release of Melaye by the Police. Only the courts have such powers. Unfortunately, when the courts released Senator Melaye on bail, the Police rearrested him, showing that they have their private agenda beyond what our ordinary eyes can see.
My people say when a little bird is dancing by the roadside, something is beating a drum for it in the forest. IGP Idris knows he has the backing of the Presidency to do all these things. The reason is simple: he is a big gun in President Buhari’s personal agenda for Nigeria which has nothing to do with the national interest. He is a lynchpin of Buhari’s political interests. He rose to be the IGP on this twin-track. He is serving his master well even if betraying his oath as the nation’s FOREMOST law enforcement officer. In Nigeria, commitment to a president’s selfish agenda earns you more than devotion to the national interest.