Enemy of democracy

Enemy of democracy
May 14
15:16 2018

First things first, and lest one is accused of plagiarism, this headline belongs to our dear senators or ‘distinguished senators’ as they love to call themselves. The phrase was the way they described the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who again failed last week to appear before the senate after he was summoned.

Like any issue in life, there are many sides to the appropriateness or otherwise of the IG shunning the invitation, which according to law, is akin to a court summon. One should not be surprised, however, as the government he serves is also fond of cherry picking court orders that catches its fancy. The second thing that comes to mind readily are the orders for the release of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, a Shi’a Muslim cleric, and Ibrahim Dasuki, former national security adviser. Of course as a non-lawyer, one’s legal interpretation could be faulted but that in itself is an advantage as one cannot be accused of “political legal interpretation” as a lawyer I spoke to described the intervention of a popular senior advocate on this matter.

The Senate too has not always covered itself in gold under the leadership of the current president, Bukola Saraki, but in this matter, our senators are spot on. I had called out the senators on some issues in the past culminating in a piece canvassing that we scrapped the national assembly, but since that has not been done, we’ve got to manage what we have. A major danger in those supporting the top cop in his flagrant disobedience is that we’re tearing away the fabric of law and order, which is a fundamental core of democracy.

Part of the accusations against the Senate is that as the time of writing this, we still don’t have a budget for 2018 and many are quick to point fingers at senators and House of Representatives members as the culprits in this instance. Worldwide, it’s up to the executives to seek better working alliance with legislators as neither could succeed without the other. One wonders whether those pillorying the legislators missed the meeting President Muhammadu Buhari had with Saraki and Ibrahim Dogara, the House of Representatives Speaker. That’s the way it should go and even the maverick Donald Trump of the United States do have regular dinner with members of the congress just to smoothen relationship with them. No leader can deliver on his agenda without the cooperation of legislators and the earlier we realized this, the better for us as a country.

It must be said, however, that the Senate overreached itself by asking Idris to come and speak about the trial of their colleague, Dino Melaye. The law must be allowed to take its course and Mr. Melaye should utilize the courts to seek for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights if they have been trampled upon, after all that’s what the average Joe go through in Nigeria. Perhaps, he will come out of the experience better with a mission to help the hoi polloi in ensuring that the wheels of justice turn faster that the slow grinding way they turn now. But we cannot fault the Senate for inviting the IGP to speak on the killings in the land especially since the beginning of this year, only the stony-hearted will pretend that we are not in the throes of a major crisis, this column actually dubbed it a march to Kigali and what could be more important than the IG addressing the senators on what the police under him are doing to stem the ugly tide.

For those questioning the senate authority to summon Idris, the power of the Senate to summon any person in Nigeria is derived from Sections 88 and 89(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). It is also curious that the IG and his supporters will cite the Police Act, which authorize him to delegate his powers as the reason for ignoring the senate summons, a first year law student will tell you that nothing supersedes the Constitution and at any rate, why can’t he challenge the summons in a competent court if that’s the way he chooses to interpret the Police Act. Curiously after the Senate pronounced him unfit to hold any public office in Nigeria and outside, he wants to approach the court on the pronouncement. We must also remember that last month, Idris approached a court in Abuja after the Senate summoned him over allegations a senator, Isa Misau, leveled against him. Justice Abba Bello Mohammed upheld the powers of the Senate under Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution to summon him. In line with his penchant for disregard of the law, he still refused to appear.

Idris is said to have a degree in law, apparently it does not mean anything to him as he wears disobedience to law and order like a garland. Most likely, the president too is blissfully unaware that Idris refused to respond to the senate summon just as he was not aware that he refused to relocate to Benue in the wake of the killings earlier this year.


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