THE Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) national government have thrown up various challenges in governance and constitutional democracy. The tempo increases on a daily basis and the latest is the blunt refusal and insubordination of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, who has refused to appear before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thrice, IGP Idris failed to honour the legitimate invitation from the Senate President and the Senate, charged with oversight functions. It is obvious that Idris is testing his powers and feels that he has presidential protection, being a core loyalist of Mr. President. In terms of hierarchy and seniority, the Senate President is the Number Three citizen in Nigeria, after Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo. The IGP’s position is political and he can be relieved of his duties by Mr. President at any time.
Commonsense is critical in our day-to-day dealings, especially in government. We have three arms of government namely; the executive, legislature and judiciary. Buhari is the head of the executive arm, Senate President Bukola Saraki as chairman of National Assembly Joint Committee (Senate and House of Representatives) is the head of the legislative arm, while the Chief Justice of Nigeria is the head of the judiciary. It is clear from the above that IGP Idris lacked moral justification not to appear before the Senate and the Senate President. His refusal was and still is gross misconduct. He disobeyed constituted authority, constitutionally empowered to carry out oversight functions. What is baffling is the willingness of the IGP to spend public funds to seek redress in court over his failure to appear before the Senate. The distance between his office and National Assembly is less than 30 minutes’ drive and fuel consumption is also less than N5,000 but he decided to spend millions of naira of taxpayers’ money to question the pronouncement of the Senate President and Senate in court.
This is a government that claims to have brought change in government and enshrined prudent management of public funds and other resources. The question to ask Idris is, which is cheaper, spend millions of naira to engage the Senate in a legal battle or honour the invitation? The IGP’s fragrant display of insurbordination and absolute disrespect for the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is, to say the least, an increasing decay in Buhari Presidency. It is obvious that the Presidency has declared an open war with the federal lawmakers as can be seen from the actions of the IGP and the stealing of the mace on the floor of the Senate during plenary without security operatives’ prompt intervention to stop, arrest and prosecute the culprits. If President Buhari can invoke the doctrine of necessity to pay out $496 million not approved by the National Assembly, why is it not possible for the Senate to invite the IGP under the same doctrine of necessity? Insecurity, massive killings around the country without arrests and prosecution has been and still worrisome.
By doctrine of necessity is meant unlawful actions of state actors that are constitutional in order to address political issues and ensure stability, peace, security, et al. Nigerians are fully aware that the Nigerian Police Force under IGP Idris has failed woefully in the arrest and prosecution of Fulani herdsmen who are daily killing innocent law-abiding citizens for no just cause and other criminal activities in the country. It is offensive and irresponsible for the IGP to spend public funds in seeking redress in court over his failure to appear before the Senate. The Police Act is a product of the National Assembly, and so is the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA). The IGP and the police derives their powers and authority largely from the Police Act. It is therefore very unreasonable to quote the Police Act against the oversight functions of the Senate when it is glaring that the police have failed to secure lives and properties in Benue State and other parts of the country.
Declaring the IGP an enemy of democracy is long overdue and it is valid because the IGP owes his allegiance to Nigeria and Nigerians only. Idris is not Buhari’s IGP but IGP of Nigeria and for Nigerians. It is sad to note that the Nigerian Police Force under IGP Abubakar and the Buhari administration have become so powerful and insensitive to the extent that it no longer has respect for separation of powers and undermines the office of the Senate President and the functions of lawmakers at the National Assembly. The Senate President being the Number Three citizen in Nigeria can invite the IGP whenever the need arises, especially when it is perceived that the police force derailed in its national duties to the people and the Nigerian nation. It does not matter whether or not the Buharists are overzealous; it is enough that Nigerians are disappointed by the gross misconduct; insubordination and absolute disrespect for constituted authorities under the APC national government.
IGP Idris must be told that the National Assembly is the chief custodian of our nascent democracy and any atom of disrespect for NASS and the Office of the Senate President of the federal republic of Nigeria is an attack on democracy and absolute disregard for the Nigerian people. By the IGP’s action, it is obvious that he is no longer serving the nation. He is serving Mr. President and the Buhari caucus of the APC. Idris must also be told that his office is funded by our commonwealth and not with the personal funds of Mr President. His arrogance and disrespect for the Senate is derived from the common knowledge that the NASS cannot remove or sack him, only Mr President can. It is now in our history books that IGP Idris is the first senior police officer to be declared an enemy of democracy, one who is not fit to occupy any public office anywhere in the world. In the light of the above, it is safe to assert that the Presidency and Mr. President must take necessary steps immediately to sack IGP Abubakar. His integrity and legitimacy have been desecrated by the pronouncement of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Should Buhari refuse to sack IGP Abubakar, his name will also go into our history books as the first Nigerian President to support gross official indiscipline and insubordination by a senior public officer. Buhari will be remembered for assisting public officers to commit sacrilege against the NASS and constitutional democracy in Nigeria.
The legal action institute by IGP Idris cannot reverse the pronouncement of the Senate. It was done with the powers given to it by 180 million Nigerians. IGP Abubakar either resign or get sacked by Mr. President without further delay.
- Dr. Oghenesivbe, a lawyer, is Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Communications.