SHEER ego brought us to this low. Nigeria, we all do know, is saturated with quite a number of laws. Unfortunately, these laws are mainly operated in the breach such that the privileged few have developed a template through which they trample on and abuse the law with irritable arrogance. That is why the law is not an ass here. It panders, mostly, to the dictates of those who wield power. For the vulnerable millions who cannot afford its price, they hardly escape its full weight or wrath as the case may be. Most often than not, criminality is measured by the size of your pocket or the quality of influence you exert. Perhaps if everyone has surrendered to the supremacy of our laws and constitution, the Senate and the Nigerian Police would not be dancing naked in the market square so shamelessly over a simple matter bordering on national security. Now, the flip side to this is that national security has different coloration here. Its meaning is not as straight forward as the words sound. Sometimes, calling the President by his first name or asking a senator to visit a police station for interrogation may be considered as tantamount to breaching national security and exposing a senior citizen to danger. We are that petty.
Let me place it on record that the ongoing war of attrition between the Senate and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, is a gratuitous insult on our collective intelligence. The huffing and puffing from both sides of the divide will only add to Nigeria’s long-running narrative of hollow posturing as a democratic nation sauced with a mindset of military mentality. Lest we forget, we are where we are today on this matter because a serving lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, chose to ignore a routine invitation by The Police to defend himself in an alleged criminal indictment by suspects in their custody. Dino could have honoured that invitation in company with his lawyer and the processes, I believe, would have gone smoothly without any drama. Instead, he paid little attention to the matter, carrying on as if it was business as usual until the Police declared him wanted and effected his forceful arrest. Whilst Dino was at his dramatic best shooting one abusive videos after the other, none of those hailing him as a victim of police brutality against a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reminded him that he was under obligation to honour the official invite. I doubt if they told him that his short but brutal dramatic skits on the social media, impugning the integrity of perceived enemies can never replace the need to obey the official summon. At least, not one single senator was on record as advising him to address the allegations as every law abiding citizen would. No one reminded him that being a senator does not transmute one into an untouchable—someone above the law.
By the way, this does not mean that one is grossing over Dino’s fears about the police or their tendency to rope him into a criminal case just to silence him. Having said this, his suicidal attempt to escape from police custody by jumping out of a moving vehicle while he was being ferried to Kogi somewhere in Area 2, Abuja must be condemned. It was a tactical blunder regardless of his status. If any petty criminal had played that fast one on any of the security agencies, I doubt if such person would live to threaten anyone that he would kill himself and cause problems for the country as Dino did in a video that went viral. Such a person would have been dead given the frequency with which security men accidentally dispose of stubborn suspects. And so, Dino is lucky to be recuperating in one of the best medical facilities as he faces his travail like a cowed lion.
Yet, the question remains: did we need to get to this banal low before commonsense prevails? The answer is no. We are here because the opportunistic elite hardly tell themselves the home truth. As usual, on this matter, their conscience revved into action when they saw one of their own being stretchered to the court first in Abuja and, later, in Kogi to answer to charges on bothering on criminal conspiracy. It was at that moment they realized that Idris and his men have crossed the proverbial red line. They were flummoxed, flabbergasted and railed with uncontrollable rage. It was at that moment they realised that Idris, the same top police chief whom President Muhammadu Buhari publicly acknowledged as disobeying his order to relocate to Benue State at the height of the mass killings by armed herdsmen, had violated national security. Pronto, they moved in to cut his wings. Idris was summoned to, as the letter read, “brief the Senate on the inhuman treatment meted on Senator Dino Melaye over a matter that is pending before a court of competent law court (sic); and other killings across Nigeria.” By the way, this is the same Senate that didn’t hesitate to suspend one of its own for daring to disagree with its decision and seeking redress at a court of competent jurisdiction!
Of course, it has been a ding-dong affair as Idris simply refused to honour that invitation. The subsequent appearance of a senior police officer did not assuage the senators. They wanted Idris’s head on a plate. It is either that or nothing. With riotous anger, they tabled their case against a man they tagged as unfit for any public office, a persona non grata before Buhari. As usual, the President promised to look into that matter. But they know better than rely on a presidential promise with no maturity date. Meanwhile, their sacred cow, Dino, was still under the custody of the police even in the hospital. What then should be the next action as the police insist that security matters cannot be discussed in the public glare as the Senate would have liked. Tired of what it called Idris’ straw holding tactics, the Senate became fired up by Senate President Bukola Saraki’s latest allegation that information at his disposal suggest that the IGP was planning to frame him in a case involving some arrested cultists and subsequently indict him and the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed, as retaliatory measure for his insistence that Idris must account for his stewardship in office amid the killings and human rights abuse by the Police.
Listen to Saraki: “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. I want to bring this dangerous development to the attention of all of you my colleagues, the entire country and the international community so that you can be aware of the level of impunity in our country and the danger it constitute to our democracy.”
Of course, the Police swiftly denied the allegation made by the Senate President, describing it as “unbelievable claims, unverifiable allegations and unfounded accusations with no iota of truth.” Now, this is not the time to accuse anyone of attempting to impede justice or crying wolf where there was none. Saraki, in his speech, hit on the real problems—the reign of impunity in high places. When the Senate points a finger of “desperation, blackmail, intimidation, abuse of office and crude tactics against the Police, it should realise that the remaining four leprous fingers sorely point back at it. Truth be told, Nigerians are tired of this shenanigan. Without prejudice to his fears, Saraki should have availed himself of the privileged channels open to him to express his thoughts, to wit blackmail, without playing to the gallery and relish in the folly with which his colleagues concoct fallacious allegations against a constituted authority saddled with the arduous responsibility of protecting lives and properties. Shouldn’t he have allowed the police to discharge its function of investigating the arrested criminals who allegedly murdered eleven people without Wednesday’s drama at plenary? Would he have said the same thing that he was being targeted if these criminals were moved from Ogun State to the Force Headquarters? And when did his state governor become the chief intelligence officer of the federation such that he would hastily conclude that his godfather was the target of the transfer of the culprits to Abuja?
One thing is sure: this ego fight, shadow boxing and display of infantile impunity inflict more collateral damage on the country’s image. The way we play cheap politics with everything and anything is deleterious to our collective wellbeing. If simple rules had been obeyed at the beginning, there wouldn’t have been any need for the muscle-flexing that is now threatening the fractious peace that was in place. Until the law becomes truly a blind ass that is a no respecter of status, creed or position, we will continue stewing in this self-inflicted pot of ignominy. Pity.