A Federal High Court in Abuja has faulted the excuse given by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris for refusing to honour the Senate’s invitation over the trial of Senator Dino Melaye.
Justice John Tsoho, in a judgment on Tuesday, said not only was the IGP’s excuse untenable, the two suits he filed in relation to the Senate’s invitation, amounted to an abuse of court processes. The IGP has filed both suits earlier this year to challenge the propriety of the Senate’s insistence that he must honour its invitation in person, and the Senate’s subsequent declaration that he was not fit to occupy public office.
The Senate had, by a letter dated April 25, 2018, invited the IGP in relation to the alleged inhuman treatment of Melaye, and the incessant killings in many parts of the country, including Benue, Plateau and Kwara states.
The IGP, who was expected to appear before the Senate the following day, sent the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) and Commissioner of Police, Kogi State to represent him.
The Senate refused to grant an audience to both men sent by the IGP and insisted that he must appear in person.
The legislators rescheduled the meeting for May 2 and again directed that the IGP must honour its invitation in person.
Rather than honour the legislators’ invitation, the IGP filed the first suit on April 30, 2018, through his lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN), contending among others, that he was not required, under any known law, to honour every invitation in person.
The IGP argued that by the Constitution and Police Act, it was within his powers to delegate responsibilities, including directing some of his subordinates to represent him where ever he was invited, more so that his choice of the DIG (Operations) and CP, Kogi State was on the basis that they were conversant with the issues for which he was invited.
In his judgment on Tuesday, Justice Tsoho upheld the argument by the defendants – the Senate and its President – to the effect that the IGP’s suits were intended at hindering the Senate from performing its constitutional and legitimate responsibilities.
The judge’s judgment was on one of both suits. He declined to determine the second suit on the grounds that having rendered his opinion on one, he would prefer that another judge hear and determine the second one.
He returned the filed to the court’s Chief Judge for reassignment to a new judge.
The judge was of the view that although the IGP could be excused for being unable to honour the first invitation because he accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari on an official trip, there was no justification for his refusal to honour the second invitation.
Justice Tsoho noted that the IGP, having had knowledge of the Senate’s invitation, his excuse that he could not attend the second invitation because he was on an official trip to Birnin Gwari with the General Officer Commanding was “not tenable”.
The judge added: “I do not see any harm that would have been caused if the plaintiff honoured the defendants’ invitation.
“I uphold the defendants’ argument that the plaintiff’s suit is intended to prevent the exercise of the Senate’s legitimate and constitutional responsibility and that it constitutes an abuse of the court process.”
He said the IGP’s contention that it would be subjudice to discuss issues relating to the pending cases against Melaye was not a sufficient reason for him to ignore the invitation by the legislators.
The judge said the IGP should have honoured the invitation and impress it on the Senate to refrain from deliberating on the matter that was subjudice.
Justice Tsoho noted that although from the headings of the two letters of invitation by the Senate, it was clear that the issues to be deliberated upon had to do with a case pending in court, the plaintiff ought to have appeared for the legislative hearing to notify the Senate of the development.
He said: “In this present case, the plaintiff ought to have appeared before the Senate and sought the Senate to ensure that the nothing is done to change the character of the matter in court.
“The plaintiff having failed to do so but chose to run to court to file this suit, the suit amounts to an abuse of court process and it is accordingly struck out.”
The judge proceeded to dismiss the suit.
The second suit, which the judge returned to the Chief Judge relates to May 9, 2018 declaration by the Senate that the IGP was “an enemy of democracy and unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria,” following his failure to honour the invitations.