The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on Wednesday described Nigerian senators as people who are trying to blackmail him into perverting the course of justice.
Mr 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 Mr Idris an “enemy of democracy” who is “unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria.”
Mr 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, Dino Melaye.
Mr Melaye, the senator 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.
Mr Idris has repeatedly said he will 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,” Mr Idris said Wednesday night in a statement signed by police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood.
Mr Moshood, an assistant police commissioner, said Mr Idris had delegated some of his subordinates to represent him before the lawmakers, an option the senators strongly rejected, mandating Mr Idris’ appearance in person rather than through a surrogate.
Mr Idris said he informed Mr 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 a felonious and serious offenses” relating to Mr Melaye.
Mr 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. Mr 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, Mr Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara said they met with Mr Buhari at the State House to discuss the attitude of Mr Idris amongst other national issues.
When Mr Idris failed to appear before the senators for the second time, Mr Saraki highlighted the worrisome pattern in the Inspector-General’s overall conduct, saying he was not surprised because Mr Idris repeatedly ignored even the president himself.
Mr Idris was summoned to relocate to Benue State following the deadly attacks on villagers there in January, but the police chief barely spent three days before departing the restive North-central altogether. Over a month later, Mr Buhari expressed shocke when told by Benue residents during a condolence visit there that Mr Idris flouted his order.
The next day, the State House released a statement saying Mr Idris was summoned and queried by the president. But Mr Idris fired back , saying he was never summoned and challenging administration officials who issued the statement to show evidence of his being queried.
The presidency has remained quiet on that matter ever since.
Following the meeting with Messrs Saraki and Dogara on Monday, Mr Buhari reportedly told them he would look into Mr Idris’ action; but the tone of the police chief’s latest statement indicates little progress on the part of the president.