Abimbola Akosile and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Nigeria Police Force has insisted that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, was right in his refusal to honour the invitation by the Nigerian Senate over the worsening security situation in the country and allegations of human rights violations.
This view was corroborated by human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, who asserted that Section 88 of the Constitution cannot be invoked to inquire into the investigation of criminal allegation involving a senator â€œbecause the section is subject to the provisions of other sections thereof.â€
In a statement yesterday, the Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), ACP Jimoh Moshood, said rather than issue of national security, the Senateâ€™s summon to Idris was because of the arrest of Sen. Dino Melaye.
Moshood said their response was to debunk the claims made in media publication credited to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, that â€œIGP should stop holding on to the straw 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 killing across the country.â€
He said â€œthe recent claim by the Senate that the reason for inviting the IGP is to brief them on the recent killings in some part of the country is an afterthought which can be seen from the headings of their invitation letters.â€
â€œIn any caseâ€, he stated, â€œif the Senate is sincerely interested in knowing the strategies adopted by the Police in tackling the killings in the affected states, they would not have invited the IGP to speak on the strategies of the Force on national television.â€
According to the Police Spokesman, â€œthe Senateâ€™s action to cover the appearance of the IGP on national television is against national security, unconventional and it negates global security practice.
He said, â€œthere is nowhere in the world where security matters are discussed on national television; even the Senate deliberation and decision on the appearance of the IGP were done in close session.â€
Moshood wondered why security strategies of the Force to tackle the killings in the affected states would be discussed on national television.
He said: â€œThe Nigeria Police Force has severally reiterated that it holds the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in high esteem and regards, but will not be cowed from ensuring the supremacy of the laws of the land, preservation of law and order and above all the full enforcement of the rule of law throughout the country.
â€œThe Force will also continue to resist any intimidation from any quarter either constituent or otherwise which run contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and other extant laws. By insisting that the Senate abides by the constitutions and provisions in the Police act and regulations, the IGP is not holding on to any straw as asserted by the Senate Spokesperson but to the rule of law to ensure that there is no sacred cow.
â€œIt is incumbent on the Force to educate Sen. Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi that IGP was represented at the Senate on 26th April, 2018 and 2nd May, 2018 as provided for and in accordance with the extant laws, which affirms that, the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Inspector General of Police stated in Section 215(1a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and the Police Act and Regulations Section 309(1) can also be carried out in accordance with sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act and Regulations by a senior officer of the Force of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police or an Assistant Inspector General of Police who if permitted by the Inspector General of Police to act on his behalf or represent him in an official capacity at any official function, event or programme within and outside Nigeria can do so in consonant with the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations.â€
â€œIt is imperative to inform the general public that the invitations to the IGP from the Senate signed by Nelson Ayewoh, Clerk, Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated 25th April, 2018 and that of 8th May, 2018, both read thus â€˜Invitation to Brief the Senate on the Inhuman Treatment Meted on Senator Dino Melaye over a Matter that is Pending Before a Court of Competent Law Court; And Other Killings Across Nigeria.â€™â€
Copies of the two invitation letters are attached for clarity and public information, he added.
The Force PRO remarked that from the headings of the invitation letters, â€œit is very clear that the IGP was invited on those occasions by the Senate purposely because of Senator Dino Melayeâ€™s criminal indictment in respect of felonious and serious offenses of Criminal Conspiracy and Unlawful Possession of Prohibited Firearms by two (2) Principal Suspects (Kabiru Seidu aka Osama, Nuhu Salisu aka Small) arrested for several cases of kidnappings and armed robberies in Kogi State, who are already standing trial in a court of competent jurisdiction. The pinch emphasis on security matters in the invitation letters was diversionary to attract undeserved public sympathy in the Senateâ€™s desperate bid to trivialise and water down the crime and criminal liabilities for which Senator Dino Melaye is standing trial.â€
He noted that the IGP, since assumption of duty in June, 2016 has appeared about 10 times before the Senate on different issues of national importance
He assured that the Nigeria Police Force as a law abiding entity, would continue to uphold the rule of law in all its ramifications and also ensure that nobody under any guise, no matter how highly placed is allowed to pervert the course of justice.
Moshood said the Force was insisting on due process of the law and also implored the Senate not to whip-up sentiments or resort to self-help but to allow the rule of law and justice to prevail on the whole matter.
In a related development, he said the incidents of killings in some part of the country are being addressed by the Nigeria Police Force and other security and safety agencies in the nation. He also stated that normalcy has been restored in most of the affected areas, hundreds of suspects directly responsible for these dastardly acts have been arrested and are being prosecuted in the affected States.
The Police spokesman said over 5,000 prohibited firearms have been recovered from wrong hands across the federation on the directives of the IGP in the mop-up operations currently ongoing throughout the country.
In a related development, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has asserted that Section 88 of the Constitution cannot be invoked to inquire into the investigation of criminal allegation involving a senator â€œbecause the section is subject to the provisions of other sections thereof.â€
Falana, in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, however noted that the Inspector-General of Police could be summoned by the National Assembly if it is conducting an investigation with a view to exposing corruption or enacting law or amending an existing law.
According to Him, â€œIn my comment on the face-off between the Inspector-General of Police and the Senate I did state ex abundanti cautela, that the Inspector-General of Police could be summoned by the National Assembly if it is conducting an investigation with a view to exposing corruption or enacting law or amending an existing law.
â€œWith profound respect to my learned colleagues, sections 88 of the Constitution cannot be invoked to inquire into the investigation of criminal allegation involving a senator because the section is subject to the provisions of other sections thereof.
â€œI wish to state, without any fear of contradiction that the power of the National Assembly under Sections 88 and 89 are not at large. Unlike some of my colleagues, my views on this matter are essentially anchored on decided cases. Permit me to refer to two of such cases.
â€œIn Senate of the National Assembly v. Tony Momoh (1983) 4 NCLR 269 at 295, Nnaemeka-Agu JCA (as he then was) held that â€œSection 82(2) is designed to eliminate abuse. Any invitation by the House to any person outside the purposes defined by Section 82(2) of the Constitution is invalid. No power exists under the section for general investigation nor for the aggrandisement of the House. So, the appellants were not entitled to have invited the respondent in the first instance.â€
â€œSection 82 of the 1979 Constitution is in pari materia with Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution. Hence, in El rufai v. House of Representatives (2003) 46 WRN 70 at 100, Oguntade JCA (as he then was) held inter alia: â€œin my view their power under the section is further circumscribed and limited by subsection(2) of Section 82. They can only invite members of the public when they want to gather facts for the purpose of enabling them make law or amend existing laws in respect of any matter within their legislative competence or as witnesses in a properly constituted inquiry under section 82(1)(b)â€.
â€œI am sure that some of my colleagues would not dare suggest that the revered Justices of the Court of Appeal who decided the cases of Tony Momoh and El-rufai were talking politics and not law at the material time.
â€œFinally, it may interest this forum to note that sometime in 2014, my learned colleague, Chief Mike Ozekhome was able to secure an order of injunction to restrain the House of Representatives from investigating his client, who was then a serving minister. The said order was granted by the Federal High Court in spite of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended!â€, he added.