THERE is no gainsaying the running battle between the Senate and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, currently flickers on the front burner of public discourse.
The conflict assumed an interesting dimension when IGP Idris failed to honour the Senate’s invitation for the third time, in less than two weeks.
The Senate had invited Idris to give reasons for the arrest and detention of Dino Melaye, the lawmaker representing Kogi West, and also explain the lingering insecurity in the country.
To the lawmakers’ chagrin, Idris scorned their invitation, causing them to proclaim him as an “enemy of democracy” who is “unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria.”
Recall that IGP Idris ignored the Senate’s invitation to appear for interrogation on the incessant killings occurring on his watch as Nigeria’s security chief. It was also the lawmakers’ intent to query the police chief about the ongoing face-off between their embattled colleague, Melaye, and the police.
Melaye, who is currently receiving treatment at the National Hospital in Abuja, reportedly jumped out of a moving police vehicle, while police officers conveyed him to Kogi on May 24, for interrogation about his alleged link to criminal suspects, Kabiru Seidu (a.k.a Osama) and Nuhu Salisu (a.k.a Small), held by the police for criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms.
The police boss refused to honour the lawmakers’ invitation, citing sections of the Constitution and extant police statutes that appear to support his stance.
Idris justified his action stating that section 215 of the constitution of the country mentioned in section 312 (1) of the Police Act and Regulation permits him to delegate duties to other officers to act on his behalf. Force Public Relation Officer (FPRO) Jimoh Moshood argued that by the constitutional provision, IGP Idris, who was on official assignment delegated the Deputy Inspector General of Police to represent him on the floor of the Senate. “The Nigeria Police Force is a lawabiding organisation and holds the Senate and its leadership in high esteem. However, the force wishes to impress it on the Senate not to personalize or trivialize the criminal offences, criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of fire arms and other sundry offences indicting Senator Dino Melaye,” he said. The senators strongly rejected Idris’ explanation and instead demanded that he appeared in person.
Things got really interesting on Wednesday, April 25 when the Senate gave the IGP a 24-hour notice to appear before its plenary session to explain the circumstances surrounding the arrest of their colleague, Melaye, as well as the persistent killings in parts of the country. In response, Idris sent his deputy to represent him but the latter was rebuffed by the lawmakers. Idris later through a statement explained that he was on an official assignment with President Muhammadu Buhari in Bauchi. He was told to appear the following Wednesday, May 2. On the specified date, the Senate expected Idris to present himself for questioning but he failed to turn up.
The lawmakers thus resolved to give the IGP a seven-day grace to honour their invitation; he was asked to appear on Wednesday, May 9. But to their consternation Idris failed to appear at the Upper Legislative Chamber. Irked by the police chief’s attitude, the lawmakers held a closed-door session to decide on their next line of action.
After their deliberation, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, emerged to say that, “The Senate in a closed session deliberated on the non-appearance of the IGP to the senate to the plenary after a series of invitation. The Senate noted that this has been a gross disrespect to our constituted authority and to also know that his earlier refusal to appear before investigative committee was overruled by competent court of jurisdiction just in April this year.
“The Senate therefore, views this persistent refusal as a great danger to our democracy and hence the Senate resolved to declare IGP as an enemy of democracy and not fit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria. The leader of the Senate would also mandate to look into the matter for further necessary action.” Notwithstanding the Senate’s position on his conduct, the police authorities believe that the IGP has not flouted any law. “It is important to correct the impression created in the minds of the people from the senate’s resolution that the IGP is not and will not be an enemy of democracy. The Nigeria police force is the first defender of democracy and all democratic institutions,” said FPRO Moshood.