Abuja — The House of Representatives Thursday strongly advised the Nigeria Police Force to ensure respect for the constitutional rights of citizens to participate in governance through opinions and contribution of ideas and warned of consequences should the law enforcement agent fail in its duties.
In a terse statement, it insisted that the police “must protect citizens exercising that constitutional right including the #EndSARS lead campaigner, Segun Awosanya, any other campaigners and indeed all citizens exercising their constitutional rights lawfully.”
The House further reiterated its determination to investigate the sordid and weighty allegations against the police particularly the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.
Spokesman of the House, Hon. Abdulrasak Namdas, during the routine media briefing, further warned the police that the lower chamber remains resolute in its pursuit of justice and entrenchment of the rule of law in the country.
He said the House “will continue to exercise its statutory responsibility and will not hesitate to wield the big stick where such is the justice of the case. Of course, citizens are assured that they will not suffer sanctions unjustifiably.”
The green chamber, however, urged all the #EndSARS campaigners to conduct themselves strictly within the ambit of the law in exercising their rights and “to rest assured that the House of Representatives will expeditiously consider their petition. The investigations will be carried transparently and everyone will be given opportunity to present his or her side of the story.”
The reaction of the House followed stories in the media credited to the police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, who had insinuated that the #EndSARS lead campaigner, Mr. Segun Awosanya had ties with politicians and even displayed a photograph in which the former appeared with the speaker.
Namdas said although Moshood seemed to have denied accusing the speaker of sponsoring Awosanya and other campaigners, his initial remarks nevertheless demonstrated “The height of blackmail against the person and office of the speaker and an affront on the institution of the House of Representatives.”
He said: “In the consciousness of the fact that the House is investigating the matter, we shall abstain from indulging in any comment that might be prejudicial to the investigation. This not withstanding, because of the gravity of the mischief, it is imperative to disabuse the minds of the public. It is important to note at this point that the Police spokesman accuses politicians and speaker Dogara along cannot be politicians. In any case, the House of Representatives and indeed the parliament happens to be the home of the highest number of politicians especially elected officials. It is obvious that, they are part of the politicians being so accused.”
He said: “Speaker Yakubu Dogara is not ashamed of being a politician because he is not just a politician but a tested and trusted leader, a lawyer and legislator of note with untainted honour and impeccable integrity. The members of the House of Representatives do not also have any cause to deny their status as politicians
“For the avoidance of doubt, the picture in question was taken in September this year, when Mr. Awosanya came to submit the petition against SARS, which is a daily happenstance in the House and indeed any other parliament. This should not in any way be interpreted as ‘hobnobbing’ with politicians. If any official interaction between citizens and politicians is to be construed as “hobnobbing” then, all citizens, the Police inclusive would be guilty.
“The police ought to know that sovereignty belongs to the people and the House of Representatives is made up of true representatives of the people; hence people have the constitutional right to express themselves without let or hindrance; and so can at any time petition the National Assembly, on any issue that affects their interests or the interest of the nation.”
Continuing, the House spokesman said:”As the Speaker assured the petitioners in September, the House of Representatives under his watch cannot be intimidated to abandon the investigation into these allegations of corruption and brutality against innocent citizens by SARS.
The House would thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that justice is done. The Police as law enforcers are aware that no institution of government is above the laws of the land and subjection to the oversight and scrutiny of the legislature
“IG’s directive for immediate reorganization of SARS is a confirmation that all is not well with the activities of the embattled squad. This, not withstanding, the House commends the maturity and introspection of the IG through his directive for immediate reorganisation of SARS which is an indication that all may not be well with the activities of the embattled squad after all.
“We wish, for the sake of clarity to address the mischief inherent in this sinister and insidious action by Moshood and the police to make the Hon. Speaker and the House of Representatives subject of controversy and to divert public attention from the apparently sordid and weighty allegations against the police especially the SARS unit.”