Have You Seen the Police Website Lately? By Garba Shehu
The tenure of the current Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sulaiman Abba has only just begun, but it may have already offered a glimpse of the way and manner the police force would obstruct the functioning of democracy. Has anyone ventured to the official website of the police to see how politically partisan the law-enforcement agency has become?
I was frightened seeing them post the Declaration photos of President Goodluck Jonathan on their official website, against the fact that they did not do this for any other aspirant. Why would anyone then post this one?
They didn’t post Atiku Abubakar’s methodical declaration which targeted the youth and first-time voters. Neither did the police find interesting, General Buhari’s crowd of Northern masses, nor did they find, worthy of their website, pictures of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s red-cap revolution. They equally did not find worthy of their website, the publisher and presidential aspirant, Sam Nda-Isaiah’s, which was tailored along the classical American presidential declarations.
Someone joked about the fact of the green-white uniforms worn by almost everyone at the Jonathan Declaration, arguing that it was to underscore the transformation of the country to one that resembles North Korea, where citizens wear the same uniform to state events.
Beyond this, if anyone still retained doubts about the openly partisan transformation of the police, then the recent incident of the seizure of the parliament and the tear-gassing of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his fellow APC members should close all the arguments in favour of this being a non-partisan police.
The Police website has been fielding selected videos and quotes from just anyone who attacks the parliament.
Femi Aribisala’s diatribe against the Speaker and the House he leads, in his TuesdayColumn in the Vanguard newspaper titled: “Tambuwal and his Shameful Law-breaker Supporters” has since found a prominent place on this website. Did the Police commission this write-up?
They have also posted a series of video clips, some of them from the sordid mess they created in the parliament and others from TV commentators attacking the House, a clear indication that they either sponsored those attacks or in the minimum, such derogation of popular sovereignty meets their own taste.
A clip of this incident showing clearly identifiable legislators posted on this site asked a question: “who are these law-breakers battering/climbing the gate of the National Assembly, Abuja on 20-11-2014?”
Another one tagged: “NASS Video (part 3), quotes a lawyer, George Eke from a Channels Television discussion as saying “Police is a constituted authority, they should also be respected.”
Another one from the same lawyer, “NASS Video (part 4) says: “that place is not the Speaker’s house, it is the National Assembly.”
Yet another police post asks the question: “Lawmakers or Law-breakers? Judge for yourselves Nigerians after watching this video.”
After failing to respect the sanctity of the parliament, which is an important pillar of democracy and tear-gassing its members and leadership, the not-so muscular police Inspector-General, appeared before the House Committee wielding the full powers of his office. He called the Speaker “A certain Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal”, and told the Committee that for him, Tambuwal, as said by Chief Edwin Clark was no longer Speaker and would therefore not honour him by calling him with the title. Seeing it on television itself is a sorry and sobering spectacle. By denying the Speakership of Tambuwal in a legalistic and a mean-spirited manner, IG Abba appears to have made a choice of obeying the man who appointed him rather than the constitution which he swore to uphold.
His claim that the House Members attacked and harassed the police, leading to the explosion of tear-gas by itself was an afterthought that could not have fooled anyone.
Mr. Abba, in his actions so far appears to have forgotten that the position of the IG of police is a slippery post; a harsh and unforgiving post where officers with equally good records as his perish. Many had indeed reached the top through the dint of hard work only to follow greedy and unscrupulous leaders like zombies and end up being taken off its lofty pedestal in a disgraceful and humiliating manner.
The parliament, in terms of the philosophy of popular representation is an awesome pillar of democracy, standing tall above the two other arms of government, i.e. the Executive and the Judiciary. The legislature represents the nearest approximation to general will. The parliament is the manifestation of the contract between the citizen and the state. The contempt the police shows for Mr. Tambuwal and the legislature is an attack on the sovereignty of the people of Nigeria. There can’t be democracy without an elected parliament acting as the true representative of the people.
Parliament is a sine-qua-non for democracy and development. In the light of the above, it is clear that the police attack on the legislature is a threat to the engagement between the two branches of the government involved in this open brawl. The responsibility for finding a way out lies with the President who appoints (and directs the actions of) the IG but the Police boss himself needs to take actions to show that he measures up to the position. He must conduct himself in a way to prove to critics that he has grown beyond what most people know to be, the gunman behind Mrs. Abacha. The police as a public institution must not allow its platforms to be used for anti-democratic purpose.