Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The hide and seek between the Senate and the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris has taken a legal dimension with a suit by the latter challenging his summons by the Senate.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/ 457/2018, the police boss is seeking an injunctive order of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court restraining the Senate and Senate President Bukola Saraki of their assigns, agents or any committees from insisting that he must appear before the upper legislative chambers in person, to the exclusion of any of his subordinate officers.
On why he could not honour the Senate invitation in person, the IGP said he had been directed by the President to be among the presidential entourage embarking on a two day official trip to Bauchi State and therefore on the said April 26, 2018, he was in Bauchi State on assignment.
“That as a result of the above development, he then directed and delegated the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, an Assistant Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State, who had adequate knowledge of the two subject matters which the Senate required briefing, to appear before the Senate on April 26, 2018 on his behalf.” the suit explained.
However, the plaintiff told the court that the Senate refused the appearance of the aforesaid officers.
Besides, the Inspector General of Police in the suit filed by his counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon, urged the court to declare that the letters inviting him by the Senate dated April 25, 2018 and April 26, 2018, relating to pending criminal proceedings against Senator Dino Melaye in court of law is beyond its powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution and same is contrary to the Senate Standing Order, 2015, and the provision of section 6(6) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, and, therefore null, void and of no effect.
In an 11-paragraph affidavit in support to the suit, the IGP said in the letter dated April 26, 2018, with the heading “Invitation to brief the Senate on the inhuman treatment of Senator Dino Melaye over a matter that is pending in Court,” it clearly showed that the Senate is aware that the said Senator Dino Melaye is facing criminal charge in a court of law and that he is not answerable to the Senate but to the Judicial Arm of Government trying the matter.
The deponent, Lukman Fagbemi, averred that the said Senator Dino Melaye is facing a charge of criminal conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms before a court of competent jurisdiction in Kogi State.
Citing the case law in IGP vs. Kabiru Seidu, aka Osama & 3 ors, the plaintiff argued that once the charge is before a court of competent jurisdiction, it is only the Judicial Arm of Government that adjudicates and disposes of the matter one way or the other and not subject to oversight functions of the Senate under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution, as claimed by the Senate.
He further argued that the Chapter Viii Rule 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Order prohibits any reference to any matter in which any judicial decision is pending, in this case the charge before the court in Lokoja, Kogi State is still pending.
In addition, the police boss submitted that there is no where the discussion on Dino Melaye’s case by the Senate will not relate to or impact on the matter in court.
That under the 1999 Constitution, and the Police Act, the holder of his office (IGP), can delegate or direct the carrying out of its functions by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police.
In an originating summons dated April 30, 2018, the IGP posed five questions for the determination of the court, including the following:
Whether the letters dated April 25 and 26, 2018 by the 1st and 2nd defendants (Senate and Senate President) to the plaintiff to appear before it on 26th April, 2018 and 2nd May, 2018 or any other date do not relate to the office of the plaintiff by virtue of section 215 (1) (a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
He sought seven declarative reliefs from the court, should the questions be answered in his favour.
Meanwhile, the legal team to the Senate President in a counter affidavit accused the IGP of using the court to avoid honouring his invitation.