Almost immediately after the announcement of Tambuwal’s defection to APC and the adjournment of the House of Representative to 3rd December, 2014, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha and the Attorney General of the Federation, as reported by some national dailies, got together to possibly analyze the defection of the Speaker, which was okay in my opinion, especially as the President is the number one party leader being the highest political office holder from the PDP.
However, me thought, the meeting the President should have summon through the Chairman of the Party, would have been the National Executive Committee (NEC), or the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP to review and analyze the situation and take a stand, so that nobody would say he is personally fighting the Speaker. Instead, the President decided to constitute himself and a few cronies into a Court of Law of some sort. The outcome of the meeting of the trio seems to have resulted in a Kalangu Dance steps by the Police in the House of Representatives, as it seems, with the withdrawal of the Security aides of the Speaker, even though the President have not said he ordered the withdrawal, which I think he cannot say publicly, because it is wrong and amounts to abuse of office and he has no such powers under any of our laws. Let us call a spade by its name.
The Police is a public institution, meant to serve all Nigerians and Institutions; Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of our Government, including Traditional authorities and individuals who feel threatened. Therefore, no one arm of Government can lay claim to the Police as being its own, notwithstanding the fact that the Police is placed under the direction of the Executive Arm .i.e. the President and Commander-in-Chief.
The Police have said they acted on their own and as a Law Enforcement Agency they cannot look the other way when a crime is being committed. The Guardian of Monday 2nd November, 2014 reported in detail what the Police have to say on this matter. “Officially, the Police still insist they took the decision to strip Tambuwal of all privileges accruing to holders of the Office of Speaker, House of Representatives ‘in the overall national interest’. To the Police, they were only out to , ‘as law enforcement agents , enforcing section 5, part 1c, 68,(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, where the terms of the tenure of Seat of Members of the Legislative Arm of Government were spelt out, as follows: ‘ A member of the Senate or of the House of Representative shall vacate his seat in the House of which is a Member if (g)being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected, provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”
Furthermore, “the Police wondered why some people preferred the force to make selective enforcement of the law while at the same time canvassing professional police for the country… people should not forget that the institution of the Nigerian Police belongs to all Nigerians whether Politician or not and therefore, its actions should be respected because it is working for the orderliness of the society no matter which party is in government. The police are not expected to wait for a breakdown of law and order before it nips issues in the bud. We are not preventing the Court from carrying out its responsibility but we also have clear and specific responsibility granted by the same constitution and whenever the court decides later, we also have an obligation to abide.”
The Police further insisted that “We took the option of withdrawing our personnel from Alhaji Tambuwal because in the Nigerian Police, if a Policeman sees a crime being committed and looks the other way or keeps quiet, he is culpable. The law is very clear on what happens when a Member of the House of Representative cross carpets. The principle is that if you are the Speaker, the Law says if you defects to another political party, you lose your position. We have to be pro-active and withdraw police personnel attached to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because if we do nothing, he might use the office to create instability in the House. What do you think will happen if the House reconvenes and Members of the PDP want to claim the Office?”
I have decided to quote the Police elaborately so that we can analyze their statement carefully and juxtapose it with recent policing in Nigeria and also happenings in the House of Representatives itself. The Police claimed they strip Tambuwal of his is security aides for National Interest. However, the Police did not define the National Interest for us to understand them, for now, am not clear on the national interest the Police is talking about. I make this point because in this same country we have seen General Sani Abacha and his hit squared bombed places, including sending soldiers and security operatives to kill law abiding citizens in the name of “national interest”, at least, as we heard in the Oputa Panel investigations. So the Police need to tell us of the “National Interest” they meant.
Again, the Police quoted section 5, part 1c, and section 68(1)(g)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, to the effect that : ‘ A member of the Senate or of the House of Representative shall vacate his seat in the House of which is a Member …’This provision is very clear that the Member that has breached this provisions SHALL VACATE HIS/HER SEAT, meaning, that person shall seize to attend House meetings, or that his name shall be truck out of the House of Representatives Member’s list and his salary stopped as a Member or that as far as the House of Representative is concern they no longer know him. This provision pulls the Rug off the Members legs. He/she no longer exist as a Member. The question to ask is that is Tambuwal the first to cross carpet and what did the House do to the earlier defectors? Shouldn’t the Police be concentrating on stopping Tambuwal’s Membership of the House, instead of removing his Aides? Is the Police in a position to carry out such action? Who can actually declare a Members seat vacant?
Onwude wrote in from Abuja.