Leke Baiyewu and Ade Adesomoju
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, on Thursday, filed a suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, seeking an order restraining the Senate and Senate President Bukola Saraki from going ahead with their plan to investigate allegations of malpractices against him.
The lawmaker, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Isah Misau, of the All Progressives Congress, had alleged, among others, that the IG collected about N10bn monthly from some firms and highly-placed Nigerians for giving them security cover.
Misau, a former police officer before being elected to the Senate, also accused Idris of granting fraudulent promotions to undeserving police operatives.
Misau, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, had, on August 25 accused Idris of extorting money, ranging from N10m to N15m, from Commissioners of Police, State Mobile Commanders and Special Protection Units Commanders, for favourable postings.
He had argued that the level of corruption being perpetrated by Idris was so alarming and capable of undermining the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The IG had denied these allegations while the Force Headquarters had accused Misau of leaving the force with forged retirement papers.
Idris had alleged that Misau was a deserter.
In his fundamental rights enforcement suit marked FCT/HC/CV/3158/17, the IG asked the court to declare both the Senate committee, set up to probe the allegations and the conduct of the committee as unconstitutional, null and void.
He also wants the court to make an order restraining the committee from inviting him, sitting, conducting any hearing on the allegation, discussing or making any report in respect of the planned investigation pending the determination of his suit.
Saraki had mandated the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the circumstances surrounding Misau’s disengagement from the Nigeria Police.
Through his team of lawyers, led by Charles Ogolu, Idris contended that the Senate President, without regard to relevant constitutional requirements in respect of the role of the Senate in investigations of allegations, set up the committee “in reaction to “these frivolous allegations” by Misau.
As part of his grounds of the suit, the IG states, “The applicant is a law-abiding citizen and has fundamental right to dignity of person under Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (as amended), and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
“The applicant occupies a hallowed office as the Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria and is thus in charge of all police officers in Nigeria.
“One Senator Isa Misau, a member of the 2nd respondent (Senate), while raising a matter of urgent national importance, had some time between September and October 2017, alleged that the applicant instituted roadblocks across Nigeria with the purpose of extorting money from unsuspecting motorists.
“The said Senator, while commenting on his motion, equally alleged that the applicant collects illegal fees by way of security protection given to corporate organisations, eminent citizens and oil companies running into billions of naira.
“The said Senator equally rained a personal attack on the person of the applicant that the applicant is having a unwholesome relationship with the female officers in the force.
“Without the 1st respondent (Saraki), having regard to the relevant constitutional requirements in respect of the 2nd respondent’s role in investigations of allegations, he, in reaction to these frivolous allegations, quickly constituted a committee consisting members of the 2nd Respondent to look into the matter.”
The IGP contended that “the act of the first respondent (Saraki) in constituting the committee is ultra vires, unconstitutional, null and void.”
He added, “The said committee so constituted is acting ultra vires, unconstitutional, null and void.”
The Senate President had named the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena, as Chairman of the panel; and senators Joshua Lidani, Binta Masi Garba, Duro Faseyi, Nelson Effiong, Obinna Ogba, Abdul-Azeez Murtala-Nyako and Suleiman Hunkuyi as members.
But the Federal Government had, on Tuesday, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, filed two separate sets of charges against Misau, accusing the Senator in one set of spreading injurious falsehood against the IG.
Faulting the constitutionality of the committee set up by the Senate to investigate him, the IGP is, therefore, seeking, “A declaration that the committee set up by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate the allegations against Mr Ibrahim Idris is unconstitutional, null and void.
“A declaration that the sitting and other conduct of such constituted committee to investigate the allegations against Mr Idris are unconstitutional, null and void.
“An order restraining the Senate Committee howsoever designated from sitting, inviting Mr Ibrahim Idris, hearing or taking a decision, against the current Inspector-General of Police, pending the determination of this suit.
“An order restraining the President of the Senate and the entire Senate from receiving and discussing any report submitted to it by the committee set up to investigate the allegation against Mr Ibrahim Idris pending the determination of this suit.”
IG, Misau’s foreign trips frustrate Senate probe
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which is investigating alleged corruption and misconduct against the IG, explained why it had delayed invitations to Idris and Misau, the IG’s accuser.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sam Anyanwu, told The PUNCH on Thursday that the panel had yet to start working as both Misau and Idris had not been around to answer its invitations.
“We understand that the IG is out of the country and, of course, Senator Misau is also on his way out of the country for the IPU. We cannot take off without both parties,” Anyanwu told one of our correspondents.
It was, however, learnt on Thursday that the police boss, who was at the VII Congress in the Fight Against Kidnapping and Extortion in Cartagena, Colombia, was back in the country.
Anyanwu had exclusively told The PUNCH, on Wednesday, that the committee would continue with the probe of the police chief since neither the panel nor the Senate was joined in the suit filed by the AGF against Misau.
When Anyanwu was asked through a text message if his committee would go ahead with the investigation, as the AGF had filed a suit against Misau, he replied, “The committee or the Senate is not a party to the suit.”
Meanwhile, Misau has declined to comment on the charges filed against him by the Federal Government through the Office of the AGF.
The lawmaker neither returned calls to his two mobile lines nor replied to a message sent to him.
When contacted at his office, his legislative aide, who confirmed that the lawmaker was in, said his boss was “busy.”
The aide, after listening to one of our correspondents’ enquiries, went into Misau’s office and came out to say his boss insisted that he would not talk to the press.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, who was asked for the chamber’s reaction to the suit filed by the Federal Government, said, “No comment.”
A member of the Senate, who declined to be named, however referred our correspondent to Orders 41(7) and 53(5) of the Senate Standing Rules, where it is stated that a matter that is pending in a court could not be treated in the chamber, while the lawmakers will continue with a case pending in the chamber before the case is taken to court.
“The truth of the matter is that we started the case first and whatever happens in the court does not concern the Senate. We are not a party to the case. Besides, if we have to stop work on every matter because it is before a court, it means an arm of government will be gagged,” the source said. (Punch)