Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described the Nigeria Police Force as behaving like a group of “upgraded barbarians.”
The speaker spoke against the backdrop of Senator Dino Melaye’s travails in the hands of the police, recently,
Dogara said this to State House Correspondents, shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, in company with Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday.
Said Dogara: “On the issue of senator Dino, of course, anything that happens to one of our members or any member of the National Assembly is of concern to us.
“And, there is no way we can have this kind of meeting without raising that.
“This is a civilian administration, it is democracy and it is imperative and very very important that all institutions of democracy operate within the ambit of the rule of law.
“There is no where, I have said it before, that police will behave in a democracy like a clan of tribesmen, like upgraded barbarians sort of. So, there is need for us to act with civility. We are not saying that anybody should be protected and defended.
“Once you have committed an offence, our law said you should answer to it but you just have to utilise the provision of our constitution, the rule of law and this administration of president Muhammadu Buhari has over-emphasised that, in order to bring people to book.
“But, a situation where people are wheeled to court, that doesn’t give good image of our democracy.
“I have not seen a democracy where people are wheeled to court; they are not in the proper frame of mind and they are forced to undergo trial.
“Whatever it is, even if Dino is pretending, as some have said, he cannot pretend forever. He is there, he will not run away, he is a senator and he can be tried any time he is in proper frame of mind.
“As a lawyer, I can tell you, any judge that assesses an accused person not to be in a proper frame of mind, even if the accused person pleads guilty, he is duty bound, by law, to record a plea of ‘not guilty’ if he is not satisfied as to the soundness of the mind of the accused person.
“So, the emphasis is there and I believe the president, being a listening president, will definitely take steps and do something about it.”
Asked if the issue of a planned impeachment process came up during the meeting, Dogara replied that as it was not part of the agenda.
“Well, I don’t think we have the authority to discuss issues of impeachment, impeachment is a political offence and I don’t think we are there yet. No, never. It wasn’t part of the agenda.”
Saraki and Dogara arrived the Aso Rock meeting in the same car, to meet with Buhari, barely two hours after the president arrived Abuja from his home state of Katsina, where he had participated in the ward congress of the All Progressive Congress (APC), at the weekend.
On his part, Saraki said the president invited them over to discuss with them, his recent visit to the United States of America, passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill and invasion of the National Assembly by thugs who stole the mace while the chamber was in plenary.
Saraki told newsmen they seized the opportunity to complain to the president their reservations about the non-appearance of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris despite repeated invitations.
Speaking on the non-appearance of the IGP, Saraki said: “Just talking about the issue of the police, we also raised the issue of the non-appearance of the IGP at the senate and felt that they must continue to ensure that he continues to obey constituted authority.
“We were concerned that this is the first time this is happening and that this matter needs to be addressed, considering the importance of the powers of the constitution that gives us investigative powers, and that there is need for the police to accept that they, too, are under the constitution and they must obey that. We raised that concern.”
Saraki said the meeting was a good one as it touched on some of the important issues.
Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial Zone, had been accused of gun-running and later, attempted suicide, by the police, which eventually arrested him, confined him to hospital and later arraigned him on a stretcher, in two different courts, to face the charges.
Asked when the National Assembly would pass the 2018 budget into law, the senate president replied: “Well, hopefully, it should be laid this week.
“If it can be laid this week, then, it can be passed early next week but we are hoping it will be laid this week.”
On the president’s response to the senate chamber’s invasion, Saraki said: “He saw it as an embarrassment to the country and that there will be a proper investigation because is something that is not just about the National Assembly, it is about the country.”
Saraki also lauded the parley as a good sign and also, lauded efforts to improve the strained relationship between the Executive and the Legislature
“It was the initiative of Mr. President to brief us on his visit to America and to engage on discussions and I think that is a good sign. We, in the National Assembly, have always been ready to give all our support to the executive and we will continue to work along those lines.”