By Alex Olise
As the face off between the Senate and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, deepened it appears today that the lawmakers will soon send team of its members to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to resolve the crisis.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had at the plenary yesterday told the chamber that the IG was plotting to implicate him in the trial of some suspects arrested in Kwara State.
National Daily, learnt yesterday, that some senators alleged that the Police boss had withdrawn policemen guarding them.
On his part, Saraki said he was informed by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, that the suspects had been moved from the state to Abuja for prosecution allegedly on the orders of the IG.
He added that part of the plan was to doctor the statements made by the suspects to implicate him in the trial.
He said, “My distinguished colleagues, there is an issue which I need to bring to your attention very urgently.
“Last night, my state governor, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, revealed to me information at his disposal that a group of suspects who had been arrested and were in police cells for several weeks in our state for cultism, and whose investigation had been concluded and were about to be under prosecution under the state law on the advice of Director of Public Prosecutions and the Ministry of Justice, have all of a sudden been ordered to be transferred to Abuja this morning.
“The information reaching me, as he received it from the Commissioner of Police, is that they (police) have been directed by the IG to bring them (suspects) to Abuja. With the information that he (Ahmed) has, it is for them to find how to alter their (the suspects’) statement already made in Ilorin and try and implicate the state government and particularly myself.
“As we speak now, those suspects are already here in Abuja. These acts, I don’t know whether to call it desperation, blackmail or intimidation. All action to undermine our democracy is a recipe for anarchy because we are doing our work by asking officials to obey the law, due process and subject themselves to constituted authority.
“I think it is important that I bring this dangerous development to your attention; the attention of the entire country and the international community to the level of impunity we are undergoing in this country and the danger to our democracy.”
In the written speech, a part of which he read out at the plenary, Saraki linked the alleged plot to the invitations by the Senate to the IG, which the police boss did not answer in person.
He said, “This plot is part of the strategy by IGP Idris to settle scores over the declaration by this honourable chamber that he is not qualified and competent to hold any public office within and outside the country, and that he is an enemy of Nigerian democracy based on his usual disrespectful conduct towards lawful authorities.
“In my own view, this plot is an act of desperation, blackmail, intimidation, abuse of office and crude tactic aimed at turning our country into a police state where top officials cannot be made to obey the law, follow due process and subject themselves to constituted authorities.
“I want to bring this dangerous development to the attention of all of you my colleagues, the entire country and the international community so that you can be aware of the level of impunity in our country and the danger it constitutes to our democracy.”
The Senate, therefore, resolved that a delegation, consisting of the leadership of the Senate and some members, mostly former governors, should meet with the President on the matter.
But the police refuted Saraki’s allegations that the IG was plotting to frame him for the bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State.
The force in a statement by its spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) expressed shock over the allegation, describing it as “a ruse and an attempt to divert police investigation into the killings of more than 11 innocent people from Kwara and other states of the federation in the recent past by the killer squad who operates under the guise of a cult group.”
The force said it would not condone interference in its investigation, adding that “any person or group who tries to interfere in the investigation process by action or utterances is committing an offence.”
“The Force therefore wishes to categorically state that, there is no iota of truth in the allegation and false assertion by the Senate President of plot against him by the IGP to implicate the Kwara State Government and the Senate President in any criminal matter,” the police added.
Moshood told National Daily, that the six suspects that were paraded for alleged involvement in the bank robbery confessed to the crime and were transferred to the Force headquarters for further investigations.
“He said the IGP had no vested interest in the ongoing investigation into the several murders committed by the killer gang, other than ensuring that justice prevails in the matter.
“Nobody, no matter how highly placed would be allowed to interfere or obstruct police investigation to pervert the course of justice,” Moshood said.
According to him the statement credited to the Senate President could discourage victims and families of those killed in the robbery from giving evidence against the suspects.
“The Force will leave no stone unturned and will do everything within the ambit of the law to ensure justice in this matter, no matter whose ox is gored,” the police insisted.
Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had penultimate Monday met with Buhari where they reported the police boss to the President over his alleged disdain for the legislature.
But in spite of the IGP’s dismissal of the allegation, Ekweremadu in his ruling on Wednesday, said, “We have agreed that we are going to set up an ad hoc committee. This committee will engage with the President as soon as possible to be able to deal not only with this, but to also ensure that the President take charge in matters concerning preserving our rights and protecting our democracy.”
Members of the delegation to be led by Saraki are Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan; Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye; Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Senator Samuel Egwu, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, Senator Fatima Raji-Rasaki and Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
Before the resolution was made, the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, after Saraki’s presentation, raised a point of order to ask why Saraki raised the matter without throwing the matter open to the Senate for a debate and investigation.
“If indeed this allegation is true, we will need to take some resolutions and bring it to the appropriate authorities. It will not be right for us to wait for the dubious act being planned to happen before we react,” he said.
Responding, Saraki said he only wanted to inform the Senate but the lawmakers could take up the matter.
Akpabio prayed the Senate to mandate a committee to probe into the allegation against the police.
Seconding Akpabio’s prayer, Senator Ahmed Sani said the matter should be referred to a committee for investigation.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, said Ahmed must have informed Saraki about the alleged plot from an informed position as the chief security officer of Kwara.
“We cannot just sweep that matter under the carpet,” he stated.
Na’Allah asked that a panel of “very experienced members who have been here for some time and who know about this kind of issue” be mandated to probe into the matter.
He prayed that Saraki be absolved of constituting the committee, asking him to step down from presiding over the session and allow the Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, to take over and name members of the panel.
The prayer was unanimously granted.
Ekweremadu asked the lawmakers to make suggestions on the action to be taken.
Both the Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye; Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda; and Senator Gbenga Ashafa, called for a joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Also, Senator Samuel Anyanwu said, “I don’t want us to trivialise this issue, it is a very serious matter. If this matter has to do with the Senate President of Nigeria, then all of us are in trouble. I remember that I said from February, all of us will be in the cell one after the other. We have come to that point.
“We should look for crack people who can do a forensic investigation of this issue and bring it to the public domain, so that Nigerians will understand the persecution we are going through now.
“As it stands, I can assure you that already, some of us have been earmarked for destruction just because we speak out. But as far as I am concerned, it is only one bullet and one life. This democracy cannot be ridiculed.”
The Peoples Democratic Party said on Wednesday that it was “deeply concerned” over the alleged plot by the police to use suspected cult members in Kwara State to implicate the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The PDP, which noted that the legislature must use all instruments to check the excesses in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, said such a plot by the police amounted to “brazen assaults on the institutions of democracy.”
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement that the party was worried about the “unrelenting attacks on dissenting voices, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”
Ologbondiyan said, “The PDP is deeply concerned over reports by Saraki of alleged plots by the police to use suspected cult members, who have been in detention, to implicate him and the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
“The PDP has taken judicious note of assertions by the Senate President that the plot is allegedly being hatched by the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, to settle scores with the Senate over its recent declaration that the IG was not fit to hold public office.
“The PDP is alarmed by this trend of brazen assaults on the institutions of democracy, particularly the National Assembly and the judiciary, in addition to unrelenting attacks on dissenting voices, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“The PDP therefore urges the National Assembly to defend the nation’s democracy by sparing no energy to engage President Buhari on these assaults and using all legislative instruments available to it, to curtail all excesses in the government before the situation finally gets out of hand.”
Two civil society organisations, Campaign for Democracy and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, said that the President must intervene in the rift between the Senate and the IG, noting that the Federal Government was becoming notorious for “internal crises and contradictions.”
The CD President, Usman Abdul, said, “It is the President that must intervene in this rift. This is highhandedness. This is impunity. If the IG is answerable to the President, then the President is supposed to intervene. The IG should be made to realise that the police must protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, including the senators. Otherwise, this is impunity on the part of the executive.”
Also the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “On the part of the police, the IG should learn to play by the rules. There is a problem about his flip-flop policies. The Federal Government at the moment is lacking in harmony and coordination, and this is from its inception. We are today harvesting a result of that indiscretion. The most devastating in this lack of coordination is the power play between the legislature and the executive. Unfortunately, the people of this country are such lack of coordination.”
In Kwara State, youths under the aegis of Kwara Agenda protested in Ilorin, the state capital on Wednesday.
The protesters marched to the Government House in Ilorin, where they were received by the Kwara State governor.
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