The Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, yesterday refused to recognise Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as Speaker of the House of Representatives preferring instead to address him as an ordinary citizen.
Consequently, emotion was let fly as the members of the House of Representatives in turn refused to recognise him as the bonafide Inspector General of Police and chose instead to address him as just ‘Mr. Suleiman Abba’.
Abba, who appeared before the House Committee on Police Affairs to explain why the Police locked down the premises of the National Assembly and tear-gassed lawmakers on the 20th November, had insisted that he could not recognise Tambuwal as Speaker because it was a subject matter that was yet to be decided by the court.
“The matter is in court, therefore it will amount to subjudice to refer to Tambuwal as Speaker,” he said in response to insistence from the members that he explain why he chose to address the Speaker simply as “Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.”
The IGP, had while addressing the committee on what had transpired penultimate Tuesday, said security mounted at the entrance was disrupted
by “suspected thugs that accompanied Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.”
He said “intelligence report” that there was going to be invasion of the Complex by “hoodlums” had necessitated the cordoning off of the Complex to forestall unpleasant incidence.
“Following an intelligence report of a likely invasion of the House of Representatives by hoodlums and thugs, the Nigeria Police Force promptly deployed its personnel to the premises to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
“Some of the principal officers called me to confirm the strengthening of the security around the vicinity of the National Assembly and I told them that it was based in credible information that there was a plan to disrupt the parliament, especially with what happened in Burkina Faso; that is why the issue of identifying yourself was made and some of the lawmakers complied until Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal arrived with thugs or suspected thugs and disrupted all the arrangement,” Abba said.
The comment rankled members, who felt that the office of the Speaker has been denigrated and immediately exploded by interrupting the IGP thus preventing him from continuing his briefs.
First to fire the salvo was Representative Babatunde Juwon (APC, Lagos) who retaliated by addressing the IGP as “Mr. Suleiman Abba” and was followed by other members of the committee who insisted on a walkout unless the IGP retracted what they considered as derogatory to the office of the Speaker, under whom they were constituted as an investigative committee.
The hearing almost became rowdy as member after members insisted on calling the IGP to order arguing that the derogatory comments was not only disrespectful to the Speaker, the members that unanimously elected him, but a stampede on democracy, and must be corrected forthwith.
Chairman of the committee, Usman Bello Kumo (PDP, Gombe)’s attempt to restore order was rebuffed by members, who were visibly angry and spoke loudly in disdain of the IGP for daring to look down on the leadership of the House, on whose behalf the committee was constituted to investigate the incident in question.
Kumo, who attempted to calm frayed nerves, said he won’t sit and allow the office of the Speaker, his person and the integrity of the House to be abused and appealed to the IGP to either deny or assert the initial statement that was thought to have denied the Speaker his rightful recognition.
However, Representatives Chris Etta (PDP, Cross-River), urged members to desist from partisanship in the matter but to see themselves as an investigative panel that will report back to the House based on their findings. He regretted that the ugly incidence of Tuesday, November 22 was a national disgrace that should not be taken with kid gloves.
Similarly, Representatives Victor Nwokolo (Delta) towed the same line, by appealing to his colleagues not to pander to sentiment but remain neutral as a fact-finding body that will report back to the committee of the whole, even as Representative Ahmed Rufa’i Chanchangi insisted that all members will stage a walkout if the IGP refuses to retract.
Abba, who was recently confirmed the IGP, when given the opportunity to amend matters, insisted that since the matter was before the court of law it would be subjudice for him to comment on it. He expressed sympathy for Nigerians who suffered unjustly during the fracas at the NASS where teargas canisters were freely used.
Rather than assuage members’ anger, the IGP’s response further infuriated them, who insisted that the chairman must adjourn the committee. Kumo obliged them and a motion was moved and seconded to bring the hearing to an abrupt end.