BY MUSA SIMON REEF, ABUJA – Following the refusal of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, to appear before the upper chamber of the National Assembly as demanded by the Senate on Wednesday, there are worrying signals that the hitherto sour relationship between the legislative and executive arm of government risks sliding irretrievably ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The lawmakers were again miffed by the police boss’ snub and non-appearance before them to explain the circumstances that led to the recent invasion of the National Assembly and stealing of the Senate Mace, including the continued travail of Senator Dino Melaye in the hands of the Nigeria Police.
A source at the Presidency confided in Forefront that though President Muhammadu Buhari had appealed to both Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara for patience to enable him sort out things, Wednesday’s snubbing of the lawmakers by IGP Idris was like adding salt to an injury.
“The Leadership of the Senate had complained bitterly to the President and described the refusal of the police boss to appear before them as an affront and threat to democracy. Though the President did not give a categorical answer as to what his next move should be, it was obvious that the lawmakers had thought Buhari would order the IG to honour the lawmakers’ summon. By refusing to appear before the Senate on Wednesday, it became very clear that the police boss was determined not to end his aspersion on the National Assembly,” said the source.
Indeed, Wednesday’s snub of the Senate’s summons by IGP Idris had fueled the anger of Senators, who wasted no time in describing him as an ‘Enemy of the State’.
“When Buhari met with the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday,” according to as national Assembly source, “the issue was on discourse as the leadership of the legislative arm harped on the need to call Idris to order.
“Both Saraki and Dogara wasted no time pointing out the implications of Idris’ refusal to honour summons by the National Assembly. The lawmakers told the President that they were convinced that the police ought to appear before them to explain the circumstances that led to the Senate’s invasion. Though the President did not give any commitment to ensure Idris honours the summons, all the same, the Senate was taken aback when for the second time, Idris refused to honour their invitation,” added the source.
One of the lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this reporter that the IGP’s disposition to the Senate may be hinged on the support from top officials of the presidency, particularly the so-called cabal accused of running things within the system without any hold-back.
“He knows that he enjoys their support and can afford to do what he is doing by snubbing the lawmakers. But, then the clouds are gathering over him. Let’s hope this issue does not snowball into a matter that throws the system into chaos,” the lawmaker warned.
The Gestapo-style arrest of Senator Dino Melaye and the drama that trailed his alleged escape attempt and eventual transfer to the National Hospital for treatment drew the anger of his colleagues, who adjourned plenary to identify with his ordeal.
The lawmakers are piqued that against public opinion and security issues raised by the embattled senator, who had survived his recall process, the Police forcefully ferried him to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, to face charges bordering on gunrunning and other sundry issues.
National Assembly insiders said this anger over the way and manner the Police is handling the Melaye saga is what Speaker Dogara expressed recently when he described the Force as ‘barbarians’ acting as a ‘clan of tribesmen’.
The undertone behind IGP Idris’ current posturing, according to sources, may not be unconnected with palpable fears that his appearance before the red chamber may run counter-productive to the legal fireworks he initiated to prevent the Senate from probing him.
“It is obvious that the Police Chief has lost confidence in the Senate’s ability to give him fair-hearing and he may have decided to take the legal advice not to appear before the lawmakers. This is aside the apparent support he currently enjoys from some persons in the Presidency”, one of the sources said.
Apart from the raging battle with Senator Misau, our reporter reliably learnt that the House of Representatives has received a strong petition against Idris over allegations bordering on the manner he is running the nation’s police force.
However, on Wednesday, the IG accused the senators of resorting to blackmail in order to force him pervert the course of justice. Calling on the Nigerian senators to quarantine lawless members in their midst, the police boss explained that he refused to honour the invitation as he found out that the summon was “a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunting, unfortunate and mischievous”