The Police and the Senate: What Manner of Investigation – By Zachaeus Adebayo

From the commando-styled attempt to forcefully remove former Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State from Office by a detachment of the Nigerian Police led by AIG Raphael Ige, to their ignoble rolesquestionable impeachments during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, and now their role in the National Assembly crisis, the Nigerian Police  cuts the image of an institution in total need of redemption.
President Muhammadu Buhari issued a Proclamation in accordance with Section 64(3) of the 1999 Constitution, stating the date and time for inauguration of the 8th National Assembly. The Constitution does not permit even the President himself to reverse his Proclamation. Yet it was only that same morning that some powerful forces within the All Progressives Congress, APC, chose to resolve the lingering problem of the choice of presiding officers. But they had  72 clear days since  after the March 28th  National Assembly elections to deal with it.   The rest is history.
What will also go down in history is that it was a day the police locked up all entrances into the National Assembly complex, allegedly on the orders of one APC big masquerade. The aim was to prevent Members-elect and National Assembly officials from gaining entrance into the chambers until APC were through with their morning tea session. It took live reports and barrages of criticisms on various national electronic networks for the police to bulge.
Unable to hold the nation hostage, hell was let loose on the National Assembly for not breaching the constitutionally enshrined Presidential Proclamation in favour of APC’s meeting.  Besides, the argument that they could have won had they not embarked on the wild goose chase at the ICC is untainable. That meeting could as well have been a tactical withdrawal.  The flopped meeting was only initiated to arrest a glaring defeat, which the endorsement of Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Senator Bukola Saraki by the PDP portended. After all, the full compliments of the APC members during the Speakership election could not deliver Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Sadly, rather than submit to popular choice by the National Assembly members, which was further reaffirmed  by a unanimous vote of confidence on the Senate leadership July 28,  the belliegerent forces resorted to the shameful fisticuffs in the House, while their errand men in the Senate resorted to lawsuits and spurious allegations of forgery of the Senate Standing Rules.
Yet, such spurious allegation was all the police needed to go unabashedly partisan and unprofessional, once again. Not only did the police gallivant into the internal affairs of another arm of government,  the Report of the controversial investigation, as copiously served the public by a national daily, is so bad that it can easily pass for  one of Lai Mohammed’s press statements.
The investigation is one-sided,  taking testimonies from only the members of the   Senate Unity Forum, namely Senators Suleiman Hunkuyi, Ahmad Lawan, Abdullahi Gumel, Kabiru Marafa, Gbenga Ashafa, Robert Boroffice, and Abu Ibrahim. The Senators of Like Minds,  a pro-Saraki group and rival of the Unity Forum was totally ignored by the police.
All members of the 7th Senate interviewed by the police were either APC Senators or aggrieved and ‘food-is-ready’ PDP  ex-lawmakers who were not only mourning their loss of the party’s nomination in the 2015 general election,  but had also since defected to the APC. The ex-Senators were Babafemi Ojudu,  Solomon Ewuga, and Ita Enang who was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ruless and Business.
No PDP Senator, either of the current or 7th Senate was interviewed. Contrary to report by a section of the media, except Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC) who was interviewed in his capacity as a member of the 8th Senate,  no member of the 7th Senate leadership such as Senator David Mark, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, were  questioned by the police.
Interestingly, rather than investigate how Senate/House Rules are made, and whether it has been the tradition for the   bureaucracy to produce Standing Rules for each new Senate/House, the police focused on whether the 2011 Rules was amended by the 7th Senate or not- as though anyone was claiming that the 7thSenate amended its Rules in the first place.   The Police deliberately proceeded from the wrong assumption that the defunct 2011 Rules for the defunct 7th Senate expressly applies and must be unconditionally inherited by the 8th Senate.  Such inglorious pursuit of predetermined conclusion can only explain the police’s delibrate avoidance of serving and former PDP and pro-Saraki Senators in their investigation.
The police also jettisoned the testimony of Mr. Ben  Efeturin, who is also the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly,  the Clerk of the Senate, and  about the longest serving legislative bureaucrat in the National Assembly, whose parliamentary bureaucratic expereince dates back to the Second Republic. Efeturin, by the admission of the Police Report, said that “the Senate Standing Orders 2003, 2007, and 2011 followed the same procedure as that of 2015”. The police Report also admitted that he said that “in the parliament, amendment of Standing Orders is by practice and not by procedure”.
As far as the police were concerened, the Senate Standing Rules 2015, which only provides for open secret ballot (to enable Senators elect their leaders in a free and transperent manner) or the one that sought fairness in the distribution of commiittee positions did not follow due process because the Senate Unity Forum and APC said so.  Nothing else matters.
It did not also matter to the police that the first Senate Rules for this democratic dispensation (Senate Standing Rules/Order 1999) was made  by the bureaucracy. Likewise, each Senate gets a new Standing Order or Rules book upon inauguration and is at liberty to amend it to taste for its   four-year tenure.  Provisions in the defunct Ruless book are never sacrosanct to an incoming Senate, but are only valid to the extent that they were reproduced in the new book. Thus,  an allegation of forgery would therefore only have made sense if any amendments were made to the 2011 Rules and used by the 7th  Senate within its lifetime without recourse to stipulated procedure for amendment.
A Standing Rules book expires alongside the particular Senate it served. If it were not so, there would certainly not have been any need for Senate Standing Rules 2003, 2007, 2011, and now 2015 for each Senate. What we would have simply had is “Senate Standing Rules 1999 (as amended)” as is the case with the 1999 constitution, showing that it is still one and the same document.
Yet, the police were quick to conclude that “This practice where some group of Senators amend the Ruless without following legal procedure is not only criminal but portends danger for our growing democracy and should be discouraged”.
The question is: since there were no Senators from that 4th June when the Senate adjourned sine die to the morning of 9th June when the new Senate was inaugurated and Senators were handed the 2015 Standing Rules, what have “some group of Senators” got to do with Senate Standing Rules 2015?  More so since the leadership of the 7th Senate expired on 4th June and   had no hand in the running of the National Assembly for that interval.
So, whether the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, is falling over himself to be retained by the new government or the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Dan’Azumi Doma who headed the sham police investigation  struggling create a rotten teeth in a healthy mouth to be appointed as Arase’s replacement, it needs be made clear that it is actually the Police’s reknowned bendability and penchant for pleasing any government/people in power that portend grave danger to our democracy. It is certainly not the National Assembly bureaucracy acting within its traditional administrative competence or Senators electing leaders of their own freewill in line with Section 50 of the Constitution.
Indeed, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja,  succinctly captured the concerns of Nigerians over the ways of our police, when he held in one of the litigations around the Standing Rules, that the Court “find the involvement of the 1st Defendant (Police IG)- being an Agency of the Executive Arm of Government dabbling, albeit on an invitation of certain members of the Senate, into the internal affairs of the Senate a little bit worrisome”.
Adebayo writes from Ibadan


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