The on-going confrontation between Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris and the Senate is a very bad example of the workings of democratic institutions, of discipline in the public service and of harmony between the different branches of the Federal Government. On Wednesday last week, for the third time in two weeks, the IG refused to honour an invitation to appear before the Senate, which responded by declaring him “an enemy of democracy” and as someone “who is unfit to hold public office in Nigeria and abroad.”
Senate first summoned Idris to appear before it on April 26. When he failed to do so, it fixed another date, May 2 for him to appear. When he again failed to do so Senate fixed last Wednesday, May 9. A day earlier, on May 8, Senate President Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Yakubu Dogara together met President Muhammadu Buhari and reported the matter to him. The Presidency made no public statement on the issue but Saraki hinted to reporters that Idris would appear before the Senate the next day. The public does not therefore know whether Buhari indeed assured Saraki and Dogara that the IG would appear and if so, whether Buhari ordered Idris to appear and he defied the president, or if Saraki misunderstood what Buhari said.
According to the senators, Idris was expected to answer questions over the spate of killings across the country this year. The list of such killings published by the Senate at the weekend was indeed sickening because it showed hundreds of people have been killed by armed bandits and terrorists in many parts of the country since January 1. On the face of it, Senate has an ironclad reason to want to see the country’s top cop.
On the other hand, all Nigerians are aware of the bad blood that exists between Senate and police following the arrest and arraignment in court of Senator Dino Melaye [APC, Kogi West] over alleged supply of weapons to thugs. As we said in a previous editorial, police botched the arrest process and charged Melaye to court for the laughable charge of attempted suicide. It is reasonable to think that senators could seize upon Idris’ appearance to get even with him over Melaye. The police commissioner for Legal Services said in a statement that the IG will not discuss the Dino Melaye matter with senators because it is already in court. The assumption that senators will raise this matter is no reason for the IG to ignore Senate’s summons.
On all three occasions Idris sent Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Mr. Habila Joshack to represent him. He justified this by saying the 1999 Constitution, the Police Act and Regulations empower him to detail a DIG or an AIG to represent him at occasions. Senate however turned Joshack away and insisted on Idris coming himself. To compound matters, Idris made himself unreachable to Senate President Saraki, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan and chairman of Senate Police Committee Abu Ibrahim. He later said the invitation was a “deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting with mischievous motives to hand-twist him to pervert the end of justice in a felonious and serious offenses relating to Senator Dino Melaye.”
This is not enough excuse to shun Senate summons. Idris should go with enough police escort if he fears physical attack. As for verbal attacks that senators are likely to unleash on him, that is one of the hazards of a top public service job. Idris should immediately appear before the Senate. His conduct is not good enough at all.