President Muhammadu Buhari in clear terms told senators who went to seek his intervention over the face-off between the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, that all public officers should be allowed to perform their duties in line with the law.
Sources told Daily Trust that the president who spoke to the senators for only about five minutes said he was firm about his belief that public institutions should be allowed to function without interference from any quarter.
A delegation from the Senate on Tuesday met with the president at the Presidential Villa over the outcry by Saraki that the IGP had transferred some suspected cultists being interrogated in Kwara State to Abuja to frame him up.
The Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC,Yobe) who led the delegation, told newsmen at the end of the meeting that the president said he had taken note and would to take appropriate action on the matter.
The sources said though the delegation spent about an hour speaking on their mission, the president’s response lasted only about five minutes.
Daily Trust gathered that the salient point of the president’s response was his resolution not to interfere on the responsibilities of other arms and that the executive should be allowed to function based on the rule of law.
The president, one of the sources said, told the delegation of how interference by the executive arm in previous administrations undermined the judiciary.
A source said the president who spoke about his experiences in courts over election matters, said he does not interfere in the activities of any other arm of government.
“However, he told us on this one he would see what he can do,” a source who attended meeting said.
A lawmaker said the reception by the president was an indication that the message they went with was well received.
“In parliamentary parlance, the message was well received. After the meeting we spent about 30 minutes exchanging pleasantries and handshakes with the president.
This is to tell you that the mission was accomplished. Otherwise, immediately after the meeting, he (the president) would just return without waiting for photos and what have you,” he said.
Another source said the president told the lawmakers that he does not dabble on any issue that is in court.
“It wasn’t a successful outing for our colleagues, otherwise why would the president only say he had taken note and that he does not interfere on investigation. It is only the guilty that is afraid. If not, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.
Nobody is above the law and nobody should be above it, “ the ranking lawmaker said.
He said the main cause of the face-off was
that: “He (Saraki) wants to be giving orders to the IGP like the president, and that cannot be possible.”
It would be recalled that a member of the delegation, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, told newsmen after the meeting that the row between Saraki and the IGP was about politics.
Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State, said there was no need for them to meet with the president on the issue since a senior police officer in Kwara State had said Saraki’s name was not mentioned.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second time the issue of the IGP and the Senate were taken to the president. On May 7, Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, met with the president over the refusal of the IGP to appear before the Senate.
Trice, the IGP who was summoned over the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye (APC,Kogi) and killings in parts of the country, had snubbed the Senate. On Wednesday, a day after the meeting of the senate delegation with Buhari, the IGP repeated same when the security chiefs appeared before the Senate at plenary.
The police chief was represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), Habila Joshak. Unlike previous occasions when Joshak was sent back when he represented the IGP, he was allowed to participate in the security chiefs meeting with the Senate on Wednesday.
How IGP- Senate face-off started
The trouble between the IGP and the Senate started last year when he had a running battle with Senator Isah Hamma Misau (APC,Bauchi) over alleged corruption in the police force.
Misau, a retired police officer and the IGP engaged in a war of words that led to the institution of legal actions.
A panel of the Senate probing the matter summoned the IGP but after several uproars, he appeared but declined to speak, saying the matter was before the country.
It was before that could settle down that the issue of Senator Dino Melaye (APC,Kogi) started. Enraged by the way and manner Melaye was treated, the Senate summoned the IGP.
Melaye and Misau are among the top diehard loyalists of Saraki at the Senate. Melaye aside being the one who seconded the motion for the nomination of Saraki as the Senate President on June 9, 2015 when the National Assembly was inaugurated, he is regarded as a “Saraki boy” by his colleagues in the Upper chamber.
The refusal of the IGP to honor the invitation led the Senate to declare him as an enemy of democracy and unfit to hold public office in Nigeria and abroad.
As the issues of Misau and Melaye were trending, Saraki himself raised an alarm that the IGP was plotting to frame him up over the Senate’s declaration that he (IGP) was an enemy of democracy.
Saraki said: “In my own view, this plot is an act of desperation, blackmail, intimidation, abuse of office and crude tactics aimed at turning our country into a police state where top officials cannot be made to obey the law, follow due process and subject themselves to constituted authorities”.
On the same day Saraki raised the alarm, the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba) narrated how policemen were withdrawn from him while travelling to Jos over his remark on the IGP on the floor of the Senate.
He told his colleagues: “I was travelling from Abuja to Jos with policemen I requested legitimately through a route that is notorious for kidnapping and killings. While getting to Jos, the commander of the mobile police called them and said, ‘withdraw from him and go to the nearest police station’.
“They told me that they needed to withdraw, that they had the instruction to leave me alone. I stopped there because I was afraid, I decided to let them leave so that they won’t know where I would lodge.
So, I left them. They went to the nearest police station, abandoned me there. The next day, I managed to drive back to Abuja in fear.