Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, on Wednesday described Nigerian senators as people who are trying to blackmail him into perverting the course of justice.
Idris, who refused to honour two previous summons by the Senate, said he failed to appear for a third time Wednesday because he found no reason to do so, having learnt that the invitation was “a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting, unfortunate and mischievous” on the part of senators.
An enraged Senate on Wednesday afternoon proclaimed Idris an “enemy of democracy” who is “unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria.”
Idris had failed to appear before the Senate on two previous occasions after lawmakers asked him to come and brief them on the killings that have taken unprecedented dimensions under his watch as top security chief. The lawmakers also planned to ask the police chief questions around the ongoing face-off between the police and one of their colleagues, Mr Dino Melaye.
Melaye, tsenator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, has been receiving treatment at the hospital since reportedly jumping out of a moving police vehicle after police officers allegedly sprayed tear gas at him on May 24.
Idris has repeatedly said he would not honour the invitation, citing sections of the Constitution and extant police statutes that appear to support his stance.
“In accordance with the extant laws in Nigeria, the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Inspector General of Police as stated in Section 215(1a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and the Police Act and Regulations Section 309(1) can also be carried out as mentioned in sections 7(1),312(1), 313(2) of the Police Act and Regulations by a senior officer of the Force of the Rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police or an Assistant Inspector General of Police who if permitted by the Inspector General of Police to act on his behalf or represent him in an official capacity at any official function, event or programme within and outside Nigeria can do so in consonant with the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations,” Idris said Wednesday night in a statement signed by police spokesperson, Mr Jimoh Moshood.
Moshood, an assistant police commissioner, said Idris had delegated some of his subordinates to represent him before the lawmakers, an option the senators strongly rejected, mandating Idris’ appearance in person rather than through a surrogate.
Idris said he informed Saraki in a warning letter on Tuesday that he would not be honouring Senate’s invitation again on Wednesday. He said he saw Wednesday’s attack on his person by the senators as “deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting with mischievous motives to hand-twist” him “to pervert the end of justice in felonious and serious offenses” relating to Melaye.
Idris’ latest defiance is the latest in a string of stand-offs by appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari against the National Assembly. A stalemate between senators and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, occured months ago when the lawmakers asked Mr Ali, a retired colonel, to wear Customs uniform, to conform with tradition of the institution he represents, whenever he is billed to appear before them. Ali rejected that demand.
Mr Buhari did not openly intervene in the matter at the time, and it was not immediately clear what he is doing to prevent further standoff between his aides and the legislature.
On Monday, Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara said they met with Buhari at the State House to discuss the attitude of Idris amongst other national issues.
When Idris failed to appear before the senators for the second time, Saraki highlighted the worrisome pattern in the Inspector-General’s overall conduct, saying he was not surprised because Idris repeatedly ignored even the president himself.