Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari over the perceived ill-treatment of Senator Dino Melaye by the police and the failure of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to honour Senate summons.
The meeting was at the instance of President Buhari.
They also talked about the recent invasion of the Senate chamber by some thugs alleged to have been working for suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as well as the progress on the 2018 budget.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting with the president, Saraki said Buhari wanted to brief them on his recent meeting with U,S. President Donald Trump and to be briefed on the budget still being processed by the legislature but the National Assembly leaders used the opportunity to raise their own concerns.
He said: “We also talked on the issue of concern to us, the invasion of the National Assembly, which he showed great concern and said action will be taken to investigate that.”
On the president’s response to the invasion, Saraki disclosed: “Of course, he sees it as an embarrassment to the country and that there will be a proper investigation because is something said that is not just about the National Assembly, it is about the country.”
Saraki also disclosed that they expressed displeasure at the refusal of the Inspector General of Police to honour Senate summons, stressing the need for him to respect constituted authority.
He said: “Just talking about the issue of the police, we also raised the issue of the non-appearance of the IG at the Senate and felt that they must continue to ensure that he continues to apply obedience to the issue of constituted authority.
“We are greatly concerned that this is the first time this is happening, and the matter needs to be addressed considering the importance of the powers of the constitution that gives it investigative powers, also gives to us, and there is the need for the police to accept that they too are under constitution and they must obey that. We raised that concern.”
The Senate president assured that effort was being made to ensure a healthy relationship between the executive and the legislature but stressed that in a presidential system, the legislature must play its role as a check on the executive.
He explained: “You see, we are here today. It was the initiative of Mr. President to brief us on his visit to America and to engage on discussions and I think that is a good sign.
“We at the National Assembly have always been ready to give all our support to the executive and we will continue to work along those lines.
“As I said, the presidential system that we operate, we sometimes have the responsibility to check the excesses of the executive. So, there will always be times we will disagree but, by and large, we will always work for the interest of Nigerians and always keep on moving on.”
On the 2018 budget, he expressed the hope that it would be passed next week.
“Hopefully, it should be laid this week. If it can be laid this week, and passed early next week, but we are hoping it will be laid this week.”
On his part, Dogara frowned at the dragging of Senator Dino Melaye to court by the police despite his poor state of health, and confirmed that they condemned the attitude of the police.
He accused the police as behaving like a lawless band in their handling of Senator Melaye, saying that a situation where people are wheeled to court does not give a good image of the country’s democracy.
According to him, “On the issue of Senator Dino, of course anything that happens to one of our members or any member of the National Assembly is of concern to us. And there is no way we can have this kind of meeting without raising that.
“This is a civilian administration. It is a democracy, and it is imperative and very important that all institutions of democracy operate within the ambit of the rule of law.
“There is nowhere, I have said it before, that police will behave in a democracy like a clan of tribesmen, like upgraded barbarians, sort of. So, there is need for us to act with civility.
“We are not saying that anybody should be protected and defended. Once you have committed an offence, our law says you should answer for it but you just have to utilise the provision of the constitution, the rule of law, and this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has over- emphasised it in order to bring people to book.
“But a situation where people are wheeled to court; that doesn’t give good image of our democracy. I have not seen a democracy where people are wheeled to court – they are not in the proper frame of mind – and they are forced to undergo trial.
“Whatever it is, even if Dino is pretending – as some have said in some sections of the media, he cannot pretend forever. He is there, he will not run away; he is a senator and he can be tried any time he is in proper frame of mind.
“As a lawyer, I can tell you, any judge that assesses an accused person not to be in a proper frame of mind, even if the accused person pleads guilty, he is duty-bound by law to record a plea of not guilty if he is not satisfied as to the soundness of the mind of the accused person.
“So the emphasis is there and I believe the president, being a listening president, will definitely take steps and do something about it,” he stated.
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