APC, ACF kick
By Joshua Egbodo, Chizoba Ogbeche, Bode Olagoke, Abuja; Agboola Bayo, Ibadan, and Ahmed Tukur, Lafia
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has faulted the withdrawal of his security detail by the acting Inspector General of Police.
The acting IGP, Alhaji Suleiman Abba, had yesterday ordered the redeployment of police personnel attached to the Speaker, citing a constitutional provision.
The Police Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, in a press release in Abuja, said the order followed the defection of the Speaker from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him: “Having regard to the clear provision of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has redeployed its personnel attached to his office.”
Reacting to the development yesterday, Tambuwal’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, said: “The office of the Hon Speaker House of Representatives, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has received with shock and amazement the statement issued by the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters justifying the withdrawal of police security personnel attached to the Hon Speaker, by the Acting Inspector General of Police.
“In the said statement, the Force has stated to the effect that by his defection from the PDP to the APC, the Hon Speaker is in breach of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution and is consequently no longer entitled to police security. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“The implication of the Inspector General of Police’s statement is that as sanction for this alleged constitutional breach, he has removed Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal from office of Speaker House of Representatives.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the question of whether or not there is a division or faction in the PDP has been resolved by Lord Justice Faji of the Ilorin Division of Federal High Court in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/605/2013 in which the court held that indeed there were factions in the PDP.
“Again in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/ 605/2013, the Sokoto Division of the Federal High Court per Justice Aikawa, the judgment of the court was that there was not only division but faction in the PDP which later merged with the APC.
“As the number four citizen in the hierarchy of protocol in the country, the Speaker is entitled to security protection by the security agencies. Therefore, we see the action of the acting Inspector General of Police as not only contempt of the courts but a ploy to bring harm to the person of Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
“We are on authority that nothing in the 1999 Constitution nor the Police Act confers on the police force adjudicatory powers including the interpretation of the constitution.
“In any case, even Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution does not contemplate the issuing of or compliance with unlawful orders by the President and or the the Inspector General of Police respectively.
“What the Acting Inspector General of Police has done, therefore, has no basis in law, including the 1999 Constitution which he has cited. It is a brazen act of crass impunity, gross constitutional breach and contempt of court.
“The Inspector General should desist from assuming or usurping the constitutional functions of the Judiciary.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Speaker of the House is elected by members from among themselves under Section 50(1) (b) of the constitution and vacates office under Section 50 (2) (a) (b) &(c), in the case of (c) by two-thirds majority of members of the House.
“The Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution which refers to a member vacating his seat on grounds of defection, which the Inspector General of Police refers to, has a proviso which has been and still is a matter for judicial and not police interpretation.
“We have faith and confidence in our judiciary and are persuaded that it cannot by stampeded into administering injustice.”
In their reaction, both the APC and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) described the government’s action as illegal.
The APC particularly called on President Goodluck Jonathan to show better understanding of democracy by immediately restoring the police security details the Inspector General of Police withdrew from the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party described the announcement of the withdrawal of the Speaker’s security details as a usurpation of the role of the Judiciary by the Inspector General of Police, especially bearing in mind that the question of the interpretation of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution on which the IGP anchored his illegal act is currently before the courts for resolution.
The party said for avoidance of doubt, the position, including the manner a person becomes the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is to be found in the Constitution, and no constitutional provision or legislation says membership of the ruling or dominant party in the House is a pre-requisite.
“Furthermore, as the number four citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the security detail and apparatus attached to the person of the Speaker is not based on his lineage, person and or political leaning. It is on account of the position and the protection required for that position and in Nigeria’s best interest.
“This unfortunate use and deployment of Nigeria’s security forces in a partisan and political way portends danger and further weakens important institutions of governance and jeopardizes national security. Under President Jonathan, we now have a Police Force that is monitoring and making conclusions with respect to party membership, qualification, of an otherwise elected official.
“This is unheard of in any decent democracy. It is unfortunate that President Jonathan who had been a successive long term and unique beneficiary of our democracy and Constitution is now demonstrating the greatest disregard for the laws that govern and guide us as a people.
“May we remind President Goodluck Jonathan that under the House Rules only a resolution by all principal officers of the House and not even the Speaker of the House can reconvene the House before the adjourned date not to talk of the Deputy Speaker.
“Regrettably, the priority of President Goodluck Jonathan on the night that Mubi, a town with a population of about two million people in Adamawa state, fell to the Boko Haram insurgents was how to illegally remove the Hon Rt Hon Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
The APC in Oyo state also yesterday frowned at the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security details.
The party, in a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan by its Oyo state Director of Publicity and Strategy, Comrade Olawale Sadare, described the police’s action as as ill-conceived and embarrassing to every right thinking Nigerian.
It stressed that the action has portrayed Nigeria in bad light among the comity of nations.
“President Jonathan and his advisers have again rubbished the image of Nigeria in the international community by enmeshing in another clear case of gutter politicking,” it said.
“Withdrawing Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal’s security details this time is, to say the least, an act of impunity capable of heightening political tension in the country.
“In the second Republic, late Hon. Ume-Ezeoke of the NPP was the Speaker of the same House of Representatives in a government being an NPN-led government of a president of the Northern extraction and there was no hullabaloo.
“Nigeria, at the moment, is sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the sitting president evidently culpable and yet he would rather exacerbate the situation because he must remain in control.”
The APC maintained that “for crying loud’s sake, Hon. Tambuwal remains the number four citizen of Nigeria and the nation’s Constitution gives him certain rights and privileges which include deployment of security details to guard him, members of his immediate family and his personal properties.
“If he decided to exercise his rights of association by joining the opposition APC at this point in time, the ruling PDP needs to respect his decision and rather go back to the drawing board to prevent any backlash from the development. Any case of witch-hunt against Tambuwal or any other member of the APC would only make the opposition party more popular and thus brighten its chances of winning the 2015 general elections.”
The party added: “We recall that PDP claimed to have known that Hon. Tambuwal would pitch his tent with the APC but the question to ask is, why did the Speaker’s official declaration, made on the floor of the House on Tuesday, catch them off guard such that the president had to summon an emergency stakeholders’ meeting?
“They need to prepare themselves against more shockers because every potential progressive-minded person in the PDP would certainly find their way into the APC before the 2015 general elections.
“This time, Nigeria has to be reclaimed from the PDP cabal