In this report, AHURAKA YUSUF ISAH examines Senate Ad-hoc Committee’s investigation of allegations made by Senator Isah Misau against the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, and says the conduct of the committee can only at best follow precedents, court pronouncements and rule of law.
After some brickbats or flexing of institutional muscles, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris finally appeared on November 8, 2017 before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on the allegation of corruption levelled against him by Senator Isah Misau.
The committee had in its letter of invitation dated October 26, 2017 asked the IGP to appear before it to answer to Virement in the 2016 Appropriation Act without authorization, abuse of posting and deployment of officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force and abuse of Special Police Promotion.
Others are misuse of funds collected for Police Protection, inappropriate relationship with female police officers contrary to Police Act and Regulations and manipulation of the IGP retirement date.
Of course, these allegations are very plausible to ears of the gullible general public as well as appealing to its mental homes, especially with general perception that the Nigerian Police is corrupt. But these allegations are so worldwide, devoid of specifics and supporting evidence to differ from mere pedestal chitchats.
A senator in Nigeria is honoured with appellation, ‘’distinguish’’, meaning a nobleman, statesman, a man of wisdom, symbol of democracy and the highest maker of laws for the peace, order and good governance in the country. In other climes, the proprietary, honour, integrity and sense of judgement of Senator Misau will be put on trial by his colleagues before making his allegations public to forestall misconception of the entire institution of lawmaking.
This is because the same senate had on March 29, 2017 suspended Senator representing Borno south, Mohammed Ali Ndume for six months for asking the senate to investigate media reports alleging that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki imported a bullet proof range rover with fake documents; as well as a claim that Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi west) forged Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria first degree certificate.
The senate insisted that Ndume ought to have investigated the veracity of the media reports, to establish prema facie evidence before daring to raise such motion on the floor of the senate.
The highest lawmaking body in the country held that the said motion raised by Ndume was in attempt to bring Saraki and Melaye, his colleagues, and the institution of the senate to ‘’unbearable disrepute at this time of our National life when caution, patriotism, careful consideration and due diligence should be our watchwords’’.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had just on November 10, 2017, less than five days to his resumption on November 15, 2017 declared his suspension as illegal, a contravention of the Constitution and Senate Rule 67(4).
The Committee had through its Chairman, Senator Francis Alimekhena (APC Edo North) on November 1, 2017 threatened to invoke Section 89 of the Constitution, meaning issuing warrant of arrest against the IGP if he failed to appear before it by November 8, 3017.
Consequently, the IGP obeyed, but curiously and intimidatingly appeared along with his lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Alex Izinyon .In reminisce of Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s appearance with 90 other senators before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) during his trial for false asset declarations, scores of the Police Force top brass, AIGPs, DIGPs, COPs and PPRO accompanied IGP to show solidarity with him before the senate ad-hoc committee.
Anti -climax session for the committee started when the IGP was asked to make his opening submission but declared that he would not answer to any question put before him as he is already in court to seek redress against all the allegations levelled against him by Senator Misau.
Consequently according to him, his counsel, Alex Izinyon would speak on his behalf.
He however said he chose to appear before the committee because he needed to comply with the constitutional provisions which mandated him to honour invitations from parliament.
But the committee ruled him out of order insisting that the judiciary lacked the power to stop the Senate from performing its constitutional duties. This judicial interference, the committee cried.
The IGP stood his ground, insisting that the existence of the committee was (in the first instance illegal) against the Standing Rules of the Senate, citing Order 53(5) of the Standing Rules which states that “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending in such a way as might in the Opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”
IGP’s seemingly threat became instructive when he told the committee that, “I will not make any oral comment or answer any question in respect of the allegations in view of the various civil and criminal cases pending in the law courts, more especially when the senator has already been arraigned in court in respect of this matter.
“I decided to appear before this Senate committee on the allegations out of high respect I have for the Senate and my respect for the rule of law.
“Furthermore, it is expected that the Senate and the committee will refrain from making references to the issues as it will be against Order 41 (7) and 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2 (15) as amended.” He argued.
At this juncture, Izinyon seized the collapsing wall of defense of the committee, just as he tapped his client, the IGP not to answer or respond to questions raised by the committee chairman, Alimikhena.
He said: “I represent the IGP. I want to state that we have very high respect for the Senate. In pursuant of the invitation, we decided to be here to demonstrate that we have nothing to hide. I have gotten instructions from the IGP. We have responded to all the allegations raised word to word to the committee.
“This is an adhoc committee. There are rules. I am urging you to use your rules. In October 2015, a similar issue arose between an adhoc committee and Rotimi Amaechi. Ethics committee was asked to investigate him. Because the case was before a court in Rivers State, the Senate suspended it. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.
“The Standing Rules of the Senate says that when a case is in court, any reference to it maybe prejudice. Nigerians are interested in this. We are saying this in the interest of justice. We are not hiding anything at all. I am only drawing your attention to precedents set by the Senate.
“Senator Melaye raised that case, saying the matter is already subjudice. I will plead with you to look at the item and see if everything was captured in the response. Today, an FCT High Court has granted an order that this panel should come before it to show cause why an order halting this committee’s work should not be made,” Izinyon told the committee.
Of course, an interim injunction restraining the ad-hoc committee members from taking further steps, to maintain status quo or staying all actions relating to their investigations pending the determination of the original application or until when the Respondents appear before the court to show cause why the order should not be made, was granted same day.
However, his response did not go down well with Alimikhena, who responded angrily. He told IGP and his lawyer, Izinyon that the committee had already been set up before they went to court.
“You cannot tell us the FCT High Court has given an order. You cannot tell us what we do not know. This is a committee set up by the senate. It was set up before you went to court. The court is interfering with our work. Let us stick with the truth. The Senate is not out to witch hunt anybody. If you are going to go to court, it does not stop the Senate from probing the virement made by the Police boss. You cannot stop that’’, he said.
But Izinyon retorted by saying “the law is clear. If there is any virement, the Senate will not look at it. It is a criminal offence and it is not the Senate that should handle that.”
At this juncture, senate committee which appeared miffed but wanting of superior arguments against Izinyon’s submission took to suggestions for ‘’multi-door option’’, and consequently adjourned its sitting sine dine (indefinitely) to study the written responses to Misau’s allegations.
Izinyon had on behalf of the IGP in his reply letter dated October 31, 2017 to invitation letter he addressed to the Ad-Hoc Committee Chairman told him that it has become imperative to stand down the committee’s investigation for now or put it in complete abeyance for some obvious reasons.
‘’The reasons why this ad-hoc committee cannot and should not proceed with the said investigations include the facts there are two criminal charges pending before both the Federal High Court and the High Court of the FCT.
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