BY JAMES OBUTE
The Nigeria Police, last week, working on the instruction of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had withdrawn the security details of the Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, for decamping from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC).
A statement issued by the police spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu, explained that Mr. Tambuwal was stripped of state protection because he decamped from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. “In view of the recent defection of Right Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC), and 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,” the statement said.
However, the action of Jonathan-led federal government has come under serious criticism as the main opposition party, APC and several other persons and groups have called on the police to immediately restore Tambuwal’s security details.
On Tuesday October 28, Tambuwal officially announced his defection from PDP to APC before the House was adjourned to December 3.
On Wednesday, the Speaker, Tambuwal, attended a mini-convention of the APC and he was given a rapturous welcome on arrival at the venue in Abuja.
In a speech at the mini-convention he condemned his former party as being led by a cabal and vowed that his new party will “sweep” off the ruling party after 15 years in power.
He cited institutionalized corruption, infrastructural decay as some of the reasons for dumping PDP for APC. It was learnt that the tumultuous welcome accorded the speaker at the convention and the overwhelming outpouring of goodwill from the general public is said to have rattled the presidency resulting in the frenzied reaction.
Prior to the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security details, President Jonathan had last Wednesday night convened top secret meeting. PDP National Chairman, Adamu Muazu; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoki; Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha and PDP principal officers in the House; selected PDP governors were among those who attended the meeting.
Responding to the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security details which include Police officers, operatives of State Security Service (SS) and members of the Civil Defence Corps, the main opposition party, APC said President Jonathan is trying to truncate democracy and demanded immediate restoration of the speaker’s security details.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party described the announcement of the withdrawal of the Speaker’s security details by the Inspector General of Police as usurpation of the role of the Judiciary by the acting 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 Police anchored its illegal act was 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 details 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”.
President Jonathan who is the only individual who benefited from the same Constitution to become a Governor from a Deputy Governor without an election and from a Vice President to President in similar legal circumstances now desecrates the same Constitution.
“The All Progressives Congress rejects this challenge to democracy and modern society. We reject President Jonathan’s illegality and call for respect and compliance with the law. We reject this meddling in the affairs of the Legislature especially given the resolution of President Jonathan and his close advisers yesterday at their meeting to ask the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, to unlawfully reconvene the House before the adjourned date.
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 Aminu Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has described the action of the acting Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, in withdrawing his security details as a brazen act of crass impunity, gross constitutional breach and contempt of court.
Tambuwal expressed “shock and amazement” at the explanation given by Abba for the withdrawal of his security details. He said the police’s explanation was far from the truth.
A statement by the speaker’s special assistant on media, Imam Imam, on Thursday said “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.”
The statement said the question of whether or not there was a division or faction in the PDP had been resolved by 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.
The statement also recounted that in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/ 605/2013, the Sokoto Division of the Federal High Court under 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,” Mr. Imam said.
“We are on authority that nothing in the 1999 Constitution or 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 Inspector General of Police respectively.”
Mr. Tambuwal argued that what the police chief did had no basis in law including the 1999 Constitution which he 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,” the speaker said.
The speaker argued that Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, which deals with a member vacating his seat on grounds of defection and which Mr. Abba referred 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 be stampeded into administering injustice,” the statement said.
Reacting to the removal of Aminu Tambuwal’s security a\details, the House of Representatives Minority Whip, Hon Samson Osagie, said: “It is unfortunate that police is taking such illegal and unconstitutional action against the Speaker of House of Representatives. Why did not the police withdraw security operatives from Olusegun Mimiko when he decamped from Labour Party to Peoples Democratic Party?”
Also reacting to the removal of the security details attached to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, AREWA Consultative Forum described it as illegal and unconstitutional. The secretary general of the forum, Anthony Sani, said that as far as Mr. Tambuwal remained the Speaker, the action was illegal and uncalled for.
Mr. Sani said that the ruling party PDP, and the federal government had the mandate to ensure a just and free society and both parties should be blamed in case of any breakdown of law and order.
Mr. Sani said whoever gave the directive to remove Mr. Tambuwal’s security details was trying to create confusion in Nigeria.
According to him, the federal government is saddled with the responsibility of creating good attitude and moral values for others to emulate. “The ruling party has a lot of responsibility to make sure that this country has order and direction and certain national ideals as well as moral values because that is the place they are supposed to focus attention on; that is creating good attitude and more values for the whole country but anything to the contrary is incorrect.”