Senate President Bukola Saraki and IGP Idris Ibrahim

The view of Senate President Bukola Saraki is that the alleged plot is part of the strategy of IGP Idris Ibrahim to settle scores over the declaration by the Senate that he is not qualified and competent to hold any public office, within and outside the country.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a brawl between the Senate and the Police initially provoked by the alleged attempt to falsely implicate Dino Melaye in a murder trial. Distinguished Melaye, with his high sense of drama, has obfuscated the real issue by his actions, depending on who you believe – jumping out of a police to save his life from a tear gas attack or attempting to escape from lawful police custody. The real issue posed however is whether we are indeed watching the abuse of powers, either by the Senate or the Nigerian Police Force. The substance of the stories behind the continued brawl are the allegations of politicians employing killer thugs and using a law-making organ to protect themselves. We now know that there must be at least one criminal in the stories. If the politicians – the Senate president, the Kwara State governor and Dino Melaye have thugs and murderers as personal staff, they are not fit for their offices and must be prosecuted and jailed. If the allegations are not true and are made up by the police, then Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris is not fit for office and should be immediately dismissed and prosecuted. It’s no laughing matter.

One of the latest twists was the story told on Wednesday by Senate President Saraki, who announced that his State governor and ally, Abdulfatai Ahmed had told him that a group of suspects who had been in police cells for several weeks for cultism and whose investigation had been concluded, with their prosecution about to commence under the State law on the basis of the advice of the State director of public prosecution (DPP) and the Ministry of Justice, were ordered to be transferred to Abuja on the directive of IGP Idris Ibrahim. The plan, he said, was that the suspects would be made to alter the statements they already made in Ilorin and they would then be made to implicate the Senate president and the Kwara State governor. If the number three citizen of the country can be falsely incriminated in a crime, then we are in real trouble.

The view of Senate President Bukola Saraki is that the alleged plot is part of the strategy of IGP Idris Ibrahim to settle scores over the declaration by the Senate that he is not qualified and competent to hold any public office, within and outside the country. The Senate also directly called the IGP “an enemy of Nigerian democracy based on his usual disrespeful conduct towards lawful authorities.” They have been furious at his refusal to personally come to the Senate to respond to questions about the security situation in the country. The Senate president has also charged the IGP of “blackmail, intimidation, abuse of office and crude tactics aimed at turning our country into a Police State where top officials cannot be made to obey the law, follow due process and subject themselves to constituted authorities.” These are weighty allegations.

As the situation is approaching a constitutional crisis in which institutions disobey lawful directives, and being convened to answer questions in the Senate is a lawful directive, we need to address the situation… the National Assembly or those convened need to test in court the assumption of the legislature that when they convene the head of the institution, the invitee must come personally and cannot send a deputy.

In response, police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, said the transfer of the suspects to Abuja was not because of Saraki: “The Force therefore wishes to categorically state that, there is no iota of truth in the allegation and false assertion by the Senate President of plot against him by the IGP to implicate the Kwara State Government and the Senate President in any criminal matter.” He then made the call that the police should be allowed to carry out their investigation free of political interference, which is a serious one as the suspects have already admitted and confessed before the press and the public to have killed eleven innocent persons.

I sometimes have difficulties understanding the police. When they announced some weeks ago that they were looking for Senator Dino Melaye to arrest him for alleged involvement with suspected murderers, he was going all over he place with his police security details. How can an institution guarding someone say they are looking for him? When their fight with the Senate heated up, they threatened to withdraw their personnel from security duties in the Senate. That is an irresponsible threat because they have a duty to provide security for institutions, whether or not they have quarrels with them.

For its part, the Senate has a penchant for calling and harassing officials they have quarrels with and they would insist that the heads of such institutions must leave whatever they are doing and come before them in person. The head of the police, or ministers and other occupants of high offices are very busy and often engaged with vital matters they would not be able to abandon at short notice. Yes the Senate has the powers to convene officials but if they continue to use these powers recklessly, then they run the risk of having their powers challenged. This is what the IGP did by insisting that they were not convening him about the security situation in the country but to protect Senator Melaye who was under investigation.

On Wednesday, a video of the IGP attempting to read a speech went viral… I suspect the video was doctored, in which case the IGP should have issued a disclaimer immediately. If the video is genuine, then I worry about the leadership of the police.

As the situation is approaching a constitutional crisis in which institutions disobey lawful directives, and being convened to answer questions in the Senate is a lawful directive, we need to address the situation. The president has to call the IGP to order. For its part, the National Assembly or those convened need to test in court the assumption of the legislature that when they convene the head of the institution, the invitee must come personally and cannot send a deputy. We all know that in a bureaucracy, powers are not in persons but in the institution and some other officers in the bureaucracy could represent the institution.

Finally, the security situation in the country and the poor performance of the police should create an opportunity to address the urgent requirement of police reform, which successive presidents have been unable to address. The way forward for the police has been extensively mapped by Obasanjo’s Dam Madami (2006), Yar’Adua’s M. D. Yusuf (2009) and Jonathan’s Parry Osayande (2012) Police Reform Panels. The core problems with the police are not new, the solutions are in the reports of the panels, so we just need an implementation committee to make these happen.

The IGP Video

On Wednesday, a video of the IGP attempting to read a speech went viral. I don’t understand the continued repetition therein – I mean the transmissiontransmissiontransmissiontransfusion aspect; the confusion, the attempted help to teach him to read by a man in suit – was it a broken record. I suspect the video was doctored, in which case the IGP should have issued a disclaimer immediately. If the video is genuine, then I worry about the leadership of the police.

A professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.

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