Following heated arguments at the Senate on Wednesday when the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, appeared before the ad-hoc committee investigating allegations of corruption leveled against him by Senator Isah Hamman Misau, the committee sitting was adjourned indefinitely.
The IGP, who has a running battle with Misau, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, refused to answer any of the questions posed to him by the investigative panel, insisting that the matter is before the court.
His reticent posturing, ably supported by his lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN), saw the committee bowing out and adjourning indefinitely after a lengthy exchange.
The committee, through its Chairman, Francis Alimekhena (APC Edo North), had threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against the IGP last week for earlier failing to appear before it, declaring that the police boss must unfailingly appear on Wednesday.
But the committee became incapacitated as the IGP, who appeared before it along with his lawyer, Iziyon (SAN), in company of top police brass, seemed to intimidate the committee into forced adjournment of the session on the grounds that the issues for which he was invited are already subjects of litigation.
When the IGP was asked to make his opening submission, he declined, saying he’s already in court to seek redress against all the allegations leveled against him by Senator Misau.
Consequently, he was told by his lawyer not to speak, as Iziyon would speak for him.
He, however, said he chose to appear before the committee because he needed to comply with the constitutional provisions mandating him to honour the Senate’s invitation.
But the angry committee members ruled him out of order, insisting that the judiciary lacked the power to stop the Senate from performing its constitutional duties.
The adamant police chief, however, refused to heed the prodding of the committee, brazenly declaring the ad-hoc committee was illegal, because its existence was against the Standing Rules of the Senate.
To support his argument, the IGP cited Order 53(5) of the Standing Rules which states that “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending in such a way as might in the opinion of the president of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”
“I will not make any oral comment or answer any question in respect of the allegations in view of the various civil and criminal cases pending in the law courts, more especially when the senator has already been arraigned in court in respect of this matter,” Idris stated flatly.
“I decided to appear before this Senate committee on the allegations out of high respect I have for the Senate and my respect for the rule of law.
“Furthermore, it is expected that the Senate and the committee will refrain from making references to the issues as it will be against Order 41 (7) and 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2 (15) as amended.”
However, his legal representative, Iziyon, who appeared with the IGP, had a heated argument with the lawmakers when he earlier stopped the police boss from responding to questions raised by the committee chairman, Alimikhena.
He said: “I represent the IGP. I want to state that we have very high respect for the Senate. In pursuance of the invitation, we decided to be here to demonstrate that we have nothing to hide. I have gotten instructions from the IGP. We have responded to all the allegations raised word to word to the committee.
“This is an ad hoc committee. There are rules. I am urging you to use your rules. In October 2015, a similar situation arose between an ad hoc committee and Rotimi Amaechi. The Ethics committee was asked to investigate him. Because the case was before a court in Rivers State, the Senate suspended it.
“The Standing Rules of the Senate says that when a case is in court, any reference to it maybe prejudicial. Nigerians are interested in this. We are saying this in the interest of justice. We are not hiding anything at all. I am only drawing your attention to precedents set by the Senate.
“Senator Melaye raised the issue of the matter being sub judice. I will plead with you to look at the item and see if everything was captured in the response. Today, an FCT Court has granted an order that this panel should come before it.”
However, his response did not go down well with Alimikhena, who responded angrily. He told Idris and his lawyer that the committee had already been set up before they went to court.
“You cannot tell us the FCT High Court has given an order. You cannot tell us what we do not know. This is a committee set up before you went to court. The court is interfering with our work. Let us stick with the truth. The Senate is not out to witch-hunt anybody. If you are going to go to court, it does not stop the Senate from probing the virement made by the police boss. You cannot stop that,” he said.
But Iziyon retorted by saying, “The law is clear. If there is any virement, the Senate will not look at it. It is a criminal offence and it is not the Senate that should handle that.”
The path to peace between the committee and the IGP was however created by various comments made by the committee members, from Hope Uzodinma to the others.
Specifically, Uzodinma pleaded with Alimikhena to adjourn the hearing to allow the committee study the contents of the written response of the IGP.
According to Uzodinma, “I want to caution you. We are all statesmen. We are all one. If we must succeed as a country, we must create a synergy where both arms of government must work together. The SAN, you must agree with me that this is not a law court. You will do us a favour to resolve any differences between these parties.
“We want to see the allegations before us and see how we can resolve them in the interest of the country. If the IGP is not in a position to speak, in my view, he can submit. We can look into it and decide on how to move forward. No too much quotation. This is a parliament.”
Obinna Ogba also appealed for the hearing to be suspended.
“Having heard what the IGP said, I have seen some documents we need to study. I want to appeal to the chairman to give us time to study the documents and invite the IGP later,” he said.
Joshua Lidani, Suleiman Hukunyi, Abdulaziz Nyako and Nelson Effiong who spoke, also called for an adjournment.
As the argument raged, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate, Ita Enang, told the committee that the presidency will explore a multi-door option in resolving the issue.
“We are glad for the warm reception. We are not here out of honour. We are here out of constitutional provisions. We respect the job and powers of the legislature. We thank you for inviting us. We also appreciate what you have said that you want to have an adjournment. I am hoping that this adjournment will pursue other multi-door options to resolve these issues,” he said.
At the end, Alimikhena adjourned sitting indefinitely. Before the adjournment, he pointed out that the Senate has the powers to entertain virement. He maintained that the issue has nothing to do with the court.
Misau: Court Declines IGP Request To Stop Senate Probe
Meanwhile, a High Court of the FCT in Abuja, presided over by Justice A.B. Mohammed, on Wednesday declined to grant an application filed ex parte by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, seeking to stop his probe by the Senate.
The IGP filed the motion ex parte through his counsel, Alex Iziyon (SAN).
In the application, Idris specifically prayed for an order stopping the Senate from going ahead with its planned probe based on the allegations lodged against him by Senator Isah Misau, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District at the Senate.
The IGP had late last month dragged Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Senate before the court.
Other respondents in the suit are Isah Misau, Francis Alimikhena, Binta Garba, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Duro Samuel, Ogba Obinna, Nelson Effiong and Abdulaziz Nyako.
But ruling on the ex parte application, Justice Mohammed declined to grant the prayer rather he ordered Saraki, the Senate and eight others to appear before it to show why it should not grant the request of the IGP.
The court ordered the respondents to appear before it and show cause why the injunction sought by the applicant in the motion in suit no. M/222/17 should not be granted.
The court also granted leave to the applicant to effect service of the originating summons and any other process in the matter on the respondents by substituted means.
The court later adjourned to November 16 for the respondents to appear to show cause, and for hearing of the substantive application.
Idris had filed the suit seeking an order restraining a Senate committee from investigating, hearing or taking decision over the allegations against him by Misau.
The grounds upon which the IGP sought the reliefs include the fact that Misau, while raising matter of urgent national importance between September and October, 2017, accused him of mounting road blocks across Nigeria with the purpose of extorting money from unsuspecting motorists.
The IGP stated that the senator accused him of collecting illegal fees by way of security protection given to corporate organisations, eminent citizens and oil companies running into billions of naira.
He added that Misau accused him of having “unwholesome relationship with female officers in the force.”
He further stated that “without the 1st respondent 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 of members of the 2nd respondent to look into the matter.”
The IGP also wants the court to restrain the Senate president and the entire Senate from receiving and discussing any report submitted to it by the committee set up to investigate the allegations against him.
He also wants the court to declare that the committee set up by the Senate to investigate the allegation is unconstitutional, null and void.
The court should also declare the sitting and other conducts of the committee investigating allegations against him unconstitutional, he prayed.
Idris had brought the ex parte application as a fundamental rights enforcement action, wherein he joined Saraki and the Senate as first and second respondents.