Editorial Pick of the Week:
An IG in defiance of authority
No matter what and how he feels about the present Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there can be no reasonable justification for the repeated refusal of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to personally honour an invitation by the upper legislative house to clarify two issues concerning a citizen – specifically Senator Dino Melaye – on the one hand, and the rampant killing of Nigerians across the land, on the other. Mr. Idris was invited by a 25 April, 2018 letter to come the following day to ‘brief the Senate on the inhuman treatment meted out to Melaye over a matter that is pending before a competent law court; and other killings across Nigeria.’ He sent a representative – albeit a very senior one. The Senate would not accept it because, as allowed in Section 89 (1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the non-appearance of Idris was not excused ‘to the satisfaction of the House …’ and re-invited the IGP through an 8 May, 2018 letter for the same purpose. Again, this public servant chose to send a deputy inspector general of police to speak for him. Pray, what is the cost of answering the call of the Senate that so much outweighs other costs to the polity? If, according to a Nigeria Police Force statement ‘…the Inspector General of Police, since assumption of duty in June 2016, has appeared about ten (10) times before the Senate on different issues of national importance; then what stops Mr. Idris presenting himself one more time?
Irrespective of whatever reason, if the Senate in its wisdom summons any person in accordance with the provisions of the extant constitution of this country, such a person must oblige the law-making body. That is the law.
That is also decency. First of all, Section 4(2) grants unequivocally, the power to ‘make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Federation or any part thereof…’ Toward this end, Section 89 of the extant constitution spells out in no uncertain terms, the powers of the National Assembly to compel anyone within the Nigerian jurisdiction to answer to the house. Besides its powers to direct, or cause to be directed, an investigation into any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws and the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry, or government department charged or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility of executing, or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly. The federal legislature is, to further this, empowered in Section 89(1)(c) to ‘summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control…’. It bears repeating: this is the law, and the head of the primary law enforcement agency cannot but know, and beyond knowing, be obligated to uphold these constitutional provisions. The Police Force spokesman has quoted rather copiously from the Police Act and Regulations for why his boss refused to report at the Senate. That is
inadequate. No act or any other statute can override the provisions of the constitution. None. So says Section 1(3).
The IGP needs not be reminded that, regardless of his high office, a public servant is subject to all the rules and regulations in the constitution and other statutes. Indeed, his rank requires of him exemplary conduct and the highest sense of professionalism. To treat a key institution of this democratic government and a duly constituted authority with disdain, does not at all speak well of his person. Besides, he sets a very bad example for the officers and men of the force he heads and to the Nigerian youth. He should stop this habit of insolence. And where else to begin but to honour the Senate’s invitation! That is if, as he is reported to have claimed, the Nigeria Police is a law-abiding organisation that will continue to hold the Senate in high esteem.
Many of the current senators have many things wrong with them, including intemperance and immaturity. Some of them may not be the best Nigeria should have, but the institution in which they belong remains, de facto, and de jure, the upper legislative house of the country, invested with full authority and power to enact laws for the overall good of Nigeria and its people. So no one, no matter how highly placed, should treat it with levity. That would be improper, immoral and illegal.
This IGP has been too burdened with too many controversies in his just
two or so years in office. He is either saying the wrong things, or doing the wrong things, or for that matter, defying instruction from his commander-in-chief. His overall behaviour hints at one more loyal to his appointor, the president, than to his country. A functionary who waits to be directed by a rather too tolerant principal, than to act on his own initiative. And all these with impunity to boot.
There is a constitutional provision that empowers the Senate to issue a warrant to compel the IGP to honour the Senate invitation. But it is hoped that common sense, a sense of respect for both constituted authority and the laws of the land, political maturity by all concerned, and the higher good of the nation, would prevent a degeneration of this embarrassing incident to an unsavory level. But if it does, the blame must go to an IGP who is simply unwilling to subject himself to the dictates of higher authority. And this would further justify an earlier position of this newspaper that this is one inspector-general of police that Nigeria can do without.