Suleiman Abba and the Making of a Partisan Police, By Femi Falana
Suleiman Abba Esq.
Acting Inspector-General of Police,
Louis Edet House,
ILLEGAL POLICING OF THE REPUBLIC
Since you were appointed the Acting Inspector-General of Police by the President of the Republic on July 31, 2014 the Nigeria Police Force has been involved in partisan politics to the detriment of law and order in the country. Permit me to draw your attention to three glaring cases of political bias recently displayed by the Police under your leadership.
Firstly, the Osun State governorship election which took place on August 9, 2014 was almost marred by the Police and other security forces which arrested and detained over 700 leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Indeed, some electoral officers who were assumed to be members of the APC were also railroaded to police custody. But for the personal intervention of Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the said electoral officers would not have been released. Thus, the election would have been disrupted by the police and other security forces whose duty it was to maintain law and order during the democratic exercise. However, the detained APC leaders who were released after the election have not been charged to court for breaching the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law whatsoever.
Secondly, Mr. Joseph Mbu, the controversial Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 7 of the Nigeria Poilice Force announced a ban any rally demanding for #bringbackourgirls within the federal capital territory. The ban was designed to assuage the feelings of some officials of the Federal Government who are embarrassed by being reminded of their constitutional duty of rescuing the over 200 Chibok girls who were abducted 6 months ago by the nihilist boko haram sect. In a judgment delivered last week, the Federal Capital Territory High Court declared the ban illegal, null and void on the ground that it constituted an infringement of the fundamental rights of the patriotic campaigners to freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution. In spite of the judicial indictment you have not deemed it fit to call Mr. Mbu to order for the reckless abuse of police powers.
Thirdly, you caused the security details of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives to be withdrawn last week on the ground that he had decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC. As if that was enough, you decided to usurp the judicial powers of the federation which are exclusively vested in the courts by section 6 of the Constitution when you claimed that the Speaker had lost his office and seat as a federal legislator having contravened section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution. By your illegal pronouncement you disregarded section section 50 (2) (c) thereof which stipulates that the Speaker of the House of Representatives can only be removed by a resolution passed by votes on not less that two thirds majority of the members of the House.
No doubt, your actions and utterances in the circumstance have exposed the Police to unwarranted ridicule as Nigerians are not unaware of the fact that when the Ondo State legislators elected on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) decamped to the PDP last month your office did not declare their seats vacant. In particular, you did not withdraw the security details of Honourable Jumoke Akindele, the Speaker who led her colleagues to dump the LP for the PDP. In the same vein, Honourable Ahmadu Fintiri, the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly and his colleagues who decamped from the PDP to the APC and have since returned to PDP. You did not have cause to declare their seats vacant. Neither have you withdrawn the security details of the Honourable Fintiri.
Thus, by subjecting Honourable Aminu Tambuwal to selective persecution on ground that he decamped from the ruling party you violated his fundamental right to freedom from discrimination. As you are no doubt aware, it is a breach of section 42 (1) of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to subject any citizen of Nigeria of a political opinion to disabilities, deprivation and restrictions to which other citizens who hold alternative views or opinions are not made subject. Since the security details of other Speakers who decamped from the APC and LP to the PDP have not been withdrawn those of Honourable Tambuwal were illegally withdrawn. They ought to be restored without any further delay.
From the information at my disposal your harassment of the Speaker was instigated by the Presidency. But having regard to section 215 (3) of the Constitution which enjoins you to carry out the “lawful directions” of the President of the Republic with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order the actions taken on the Speaker are illegal and unconstitutional in every material particular. Therefore, you should withdraw your pronouncement on the office and seat of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal and advise the ruling party to seek redress in the Federal High Court on the constitutional implications of the defection. Furthermore, unless he is removed by his colleagues in the House of Representatives or by a competent court in the land Honourable Tambuwal remains the Speaker of the House. Neither the Police nor any other agency of the Federal Government can be allowed to resort to self help on the matter.
As law and order in the country cannot be maintained by a compromised Police institution you may want to resign your appointment if you are not prepared to discharge your onerous constitutional responsibilities without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Before making up your mind may I remind you of the eternal injunction of the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v Atiku Abubakar (2007) 10 NWLR (pt 1041) 1 at 183. As the undisguised bias of both the INEC and the Police could not be justified over the illegal removal of the Vice-President for decamping from the ruling party to one of the opposition political parties the apex court held inter alia:
“Having regard to the nature of the function which the Nigeria Police Force also performs, that
body must also insulate itself such that impartiality and fairness may at all times be ascribed to
it. A situation where both of them ( the Inspector-General of Police and the Independent National
Electoral Commission INEC) appeal in the instant case is very much in bad taste.They have both
thrown the quality of impartiality and fairness which they must possess to the winds. Their acts
capable of eroding the public confidence in them. Unknown tob them, they may be said, by the
the public, to be biased and therefore not worthy to be regarded as impartial umpires. This trend
must not repeat itself for the good of the nation.”
Finally, if the trend of subverting the Constitution, the Police Act and the Electoral Act by your good self and other top police offices continues unabated we shall not hesitate to approach the Federal High Court to determine your competence and suitability to superintend and manage the Nigeria Police Force in the public interest.
Femi Falana SAN.