The Senate on Thursday made a U-turn on its reason for insisting that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, should appear before the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
The Senate said the IG was invited particularly to address the legislature on the spate of killings across Nigeria and not the prosecution of Senator Dino Melaye.
It insisted that Idris was not fit to hold any public office, saying the police boss was clutching at straws with his excuses for ignoring summons by the lawmakers.
The senators also said that the IG’s refusal to honour their invitations was an indication that Idris was afraid of his own shadow.
These points were contained in a statement issued by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Aliyu-Abdullahi, in Abuja on Thursday.
The Senate had on Wednesday declared Idris unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria, describing him as an enemy of democracy for his alleged refusal to honour the Senate summons thrice.
Idris had been summoned to address the Senate on the alleged inhuman treatment of Melaye during his arrest and detention by the police over alleged gun-running; and the spate of killings by armed herdsmen and militias across the country.
While Idris had sent the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Mr. Joshak Habila, to represent him in the previous times, he sent no representation for his appearance on Wednesday.
The IG had responded through a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, saying he owed the Senate no apologies.
Idris said he did not have to appear before the lawmakers, noting that a senior police officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General or an Assistant Inspector-General could act on his behalf in an official capacity at any function. This, he added, was in consonance with Sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act.
The police described the Senate resolution against Idris as “a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunt with mischievous motives to hand-twist (sic) the IG to pervert the end of justice” in a felonious and serious offence of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms for which Melaye was allegedly indicted by two principal suspects, Kabiru Seidu aka Osama and Nuhu Salisu aka Small.
The Senate however dismissed the claims by the police.
“The Senate today (Thursday) stated that the IG, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, should stop clutching at straws on why he refused to comply with the invitation of the Senate for him to come and explain what the police are doing on the spate of killings across the country,” the statement said.
Sabi-Abdullahi stated that the crux of the matter that informed the invitation was “the ceaseless spate of killings across the country and that matters concerning the arrest of Senator Melaye have in fact been overtaken by events.”
The statement added, “We noted the response issued by one Jimoh Moshood on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, following yesterday’s (Wednesday) resolution of the legislative chamber on the continued refusal of the IG to honour the invitation for him to come and explain what the police are doing to halt the spate of killings across the country.
“Let it be known that the IG, by trying to reduce the reason for his invitation by the Senate to the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye, is simply clutching at straws. The issue of Senator Melaye’s arrest has been overtaken by events. The courts are already handling the related cases. Our main concern is the security crisis across the country where people are being killed in scores on a daily basis.
“The primary responsibility of the police is the maintenance of law and order as well as protection of lives and property. If there is a breach along the line of this responsibility, we do not see why the IG should feel he cannot be invited to offer an explanation to the arm of government which is constitutionally empowered to ask questions and investigate the breach.”
According to the Senate, no responsible body of representatives of the people will ignore sad reports given by members on the floor of the Senate.
“For instance on April 24, two Catholic priests and 17 members of their congregation were murdered as reported by Senator George Akume. Also, senators Kabir Marafa and Tijani Kaura had earlier informed the Senate of the killing of 35 people in the Maradun Local Government Area; over 100 people killed in Anka and 36 people killed in Birani Village in the Zurmi LGA, all in Zamfara State.
“Even as of now, reports reaching us show that recent killings have occurred in Kaduna, Taraba and Benue states. These were just few instances of daily occurrences of gruesome murder of our constituents as raised by senators,” the statement said.
It added, “The IGP definitely should not have any problem with an invitation for him to tell the Senate what he and his men are doing to stop the killings as well as their challenges and needs in doing this.
“Mr. Idris should not seek to confuse issues or play on the intelligence of members of the public with his diversionary statement or claims. The resolution of the Senate leading to his invitation is clear and we invite our people to check. It is for the purpose of having a transparent and open hearing that we fixed his appearance for Wednesday when our plenary sitting enjoys live coverage on national television.
“In one instance in the past, Mr. Idris had gone to court in order to evade honouring the invitation of the Senate and the court headed by Justice Abba Bello Mohammed of the FCT High Court on April 10, 2018, told him in clear terms that his suit lacked merit, as Sections 88 and 89 of the constitution empower the lawmakers to carry out investigations on issues of public interest.
“Any public officer who plans to place himself above an arm of government obviously is not fit to remain in office. Mr. Idris is only afraid of his own shadow by alleging witch-hunt when he is called to account on the performance of the duties of his organisation.”
IG ignorant of his job –Dep Speaker
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, has said Idris is ignorant and lacks understanding of his job.
He noted that the IG was working for Nigerians and answerable to the people and had no excuse snubbing the summonses issued to him by the Senate.
Lasun said this in Abuja on Thursday while responding to questions from journalists shortly after the opening of the 2018 first Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The deputy speaker stated that lawmakers were being questioned and criticised by their constituents daily over the security situation in the country.
Lasun said, “It’s just simple, the man (IG) does not understand his job and does not understand democracy. In a democracy, no one is bigger than summons, you just come and state your part.
“If you are summoned, go there and tell them, he has forgotten that he is working for Nigerians and he must be responsible to some people. The first arm of government anybody is responsible to in representative democracy is the parliament and parliamentarians are responsible to the Nigerian public.”
Remove Idris, activist tells Buhari
A human rights activist and Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), Adeniyi Sulaiman, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the IG from office. He said that Idris lacked the moral and democratic rights to continue in office as the nation’s police boss.
He condemned the action of the police boss, describing his refusal to honour the Senate summons as undemocratic, anathema, unconstitutional, illegal, satanic and uncalled for.
Sulaiman added that Idris had shown total disrespect, as an enemy of democracy, to one of the strong pillars of the country’s democracy.
This was contained in a statement issued after Sulaiman appeared on a “Live Programme” at SaharareporterTV in Lagos on Thursday and copies of the statement were made available to newsmen.