By Henry Umoru, Abdulwahab Abdulah & Godwin Oritse
*** The action cannot be right, we will give him time for reflection, to be well guided by his bosses – Saraki
*** As Senate Mandates Ahmad Lawan, Abu Ibrahim to engage the Executive on the enormity of the consequence of IGP‘s action
*** Tight Security as Masked security men storm National Assembly
ABUJA—FOR the second time in one week, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, who was billed to appear before the Senate at plenary yesterday, shunned senators without any written or verbal statement to buttress his action.
Senate president, Bukola Saraki, in his immediate reaction, said: “The President told him to go to Benue, he refused to go. His immediate boss, the Vice-President is a SAN. I know that he will not condone this. Also, Mr. President will not condone this.’’
The Senate had last Thursday, summoned the IGP to brief the lawmakers at plenary on the ordeal the Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Dino Melaye, APC Kogi West, had been subjected in the hands of the Nigeria Police on alleged illegal possession of ammunition, but he failed to show up.
The Inspector-General of Police who failed to appear last week, was said to have travelled with President Muhammadu Buhari on a visit to Bauchi State.
The Senate has, however, mandated the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, APC, Katsina South, to engage the Executive on the issue to make the IGP realize the enormity of the consequences his action may cause.
At 1.31 pm, Senate Leader had informed the Senate in consonance with the Order Paper that Order 17 be suspended to allow Ibrahim Idris brief the Senate.
Lawan said: “That the Senate do receive the Inspector General of Police to brief this distinguished Senate on the inhuman treatment of Senator Dino Melaye over a matter that is pending before a competent law court and killings across the country.”
At 1.32 pm, Senate president, Bukola Saraki, asked the Clerk to the Senate, Nelson Ayewor, to bring in the IGP, but later the Senate President said, “ IG is not present, I can see Senator Ita Enang there, his face does not look like the IG.”
Earlier in the day, the Senate had gone into a closed door session that lasted for one and half hours from 11.03 am to 12.34, where security issues, among others, were discussed.
At the end of the executive session, Saraki reported that the Senate deliberated on the workings of the Senate and the National Assembly in general.
Prior to the commencement of plenary yesterday, there was an unusual tight security in the National Assembly, especially around the Senate Chamber and the foyer, with masked security men taking over the place.
Journalists and staff of the National Assembly were confronted by masked security who bore arms, thus triggering panic.
Across all entry points to the National Assembly, policemen were seen mounting surveillance, just as a truck of Guards Brigade, Police Armoured tanks and vehicles were stationed at the entrance of the National Assembly, close to the Federal Secretariat.
Not happy with the non- appearance of the Police boss, Saraki, who condemned the action, said what the IGP did cannot be right, adding that the Senate, by reason of its position, would not want to descend low.
He called on his colleagues to exercise maturity in the face of the IGP’s non appearance.
Giving his report on the assignment given to him to reach out to the Police boss, following his failure to appear, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, said: “I tried yesterday to reach the IG but unfortunately I couldn’t reach him. After the last sitting when it was directed that the IGP should come, the Clerk to the Senate wrote to the IGP.
‘’I met the DIG who was sent by the IG at the office of the Presidential Adviser to the National Assembly Matters and we implored the DIG to make sure the IGP honoured the invitation of the Senate today (yesterday) at 11am.
“Personally, I tried to reach him yesterday, but couldn’t up to late in the night. Later, I found out that that IGP is in Kaduna where he will be going to Birnin-Gwari where there were killings.”
Responding, the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South, said: “The chairman of the Police Committee has said that he’s not able to reach him. What we have is that there is no reason for his non-appearance. In this kind of situation, I must say that there is a very serious need to invite the IG based on everything that occurred.
“Under Section 88(1) of our Constitution & Section 89(C), it says that we have the power to summon anybody. The IG is the only one that has the information that the Senate wants. The Senate should look at the IG of Police & the person occupying that Office.’’
In his remarks, Saraki said: “I don’t want us to labour too much on this issue. Being the Upper Chamber, at times, we must show maturity and statesmanship. Anybody knows that this action cannot be right. We are not a Senate in Committee. We are a Senate in plenary.
“The IG has said that he cannot come. He wants to delegate it to a junior officer to come. Since we returned to democracy, there has been no IG that has refused to come. He is doing this and this is a threat to our democracy. It is not only to us, it is also to the President.
“The Leader of the Senate and the Chairman of Police should engage with the Executive. There are powers that we can exercise. This year alone, there have been over 500 or 600 deaths. The man who has the power to stop this has not come to brief the representatives of the people.”
An Abuja based legal practitioner, Mr Boulevard Aladetokunbo, said: “The action of the Inspector of General of Police is condemnable in all ramifications. He supposed to respond to the invitations extended to him by the National Assembly, especially when the issues on which he is being invited border on the security of the nation.
‘’Yes, the National Assembly too is not living up to expectations of Nigerians. However, the IGP needs to respect the institution not the individual lawmakers.
‘’The Senate has several options to punish him for his action, they can express a vote of no confidence in him, they can commence contempt proceeding against him. The legislature like the judiciary can invoke the contempt proceeding against him. They can withhold annual appropriation to the police for his action. They need to deal with the issues and examine several penalties available, if it is found out that he deliberately shunned or ignored the lawmakers’ invitation.
In his reaction, human right lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, said the implication of the IGP’s refusal to appear before the Senate was that agencies of this government have shown an uncanny bent to organs of government.
Ozekhome explained that Senate could issue a warrant of arrest on the IGP. The Legislative, Power and Privileges Act provides that anybody invited by the National Assembly must appear before it.
He said If the IGP refused to appear, the Senate could issue a warrant of arrest, as the law does not exclude anybody from being summoned by the Senate, no matter how highly placed that person is.
“Excepts those covered in section 308 of the constitution with deal with immunity. Many agencies of this government have this uncanny bent to shun organs of government, the Comptroller-General of Customs did it and many of them have done so. They can invoke the power of the law to order the arrest of the IGP,’’ he said.