What If Police Chief, Suleiman Abba, Was To Defy The Next Presidential Pressure To Interfere With The Legislative Branch Of Nigeria?

Source: Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi

IGP Abba is on the verge of making his own piece of history in a style that is unbecoming of a professional police leader. Within a short space of time and in an absolutely incredible way he has questioned the Constitutional, judicial and legislative authority of the country. In so doing, he could be responding to the greatest political pressure of our time. The question now is should he continue to succumb to these obnoxious pressures? The answer is No! But it is up to him.

President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration within 120 days of appointing Suleiman Abba as the Inspector-General of Police(IGP)appears to be misusing the Nigerian police to target the legislature, in a manner never before seen that is, at best, unpolished,

The outside world, including America, is reminding President Jonathan of a democratic principle called the separation of powers, and is urging the Jonathan presidency in its capacity as the nation's executive branch to respect the democratic principles, and stop all efforts to interfere with the legislative branch.

The Nigerian police force like all modern police bodies function to safeguard freedom, to preserve life and property, to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens.

The Nigerian police force, as an agency of the criminal justice system, has a major responsibility to deal with serious crime, assist to improve the capacity of police to discharge this responsibility effectively and work with other criminal justice agencies in a constructive joint effort.

Its other constitutional tasks include the protection of certain rights such as to speak and to assemble, to participate either directly or in conjunction with other public and social agencies in the prevention of criminal and delinquent behavior, to maintain order, as well as to assist citizens in need of help.

Certainly one of its priorities is to ensure the use of police authority; but this has not been the case in the last few months, as the police under IGP Abba are engaging in ongoing and pervasive violent targeting of political opponents of the Jonathan party and administration in a way perpetuated by a culture of impunity.

While the Nigerian police have the responsibility for maintaining a degree of public order which is consistent with freedom, the chief police of the nation, Abba, a lawyer by background, is assuming and even formulating responsibilities to the directions of political services, including the inappropriate pressure to act in this way by the Jonathan administration and who is now being observed by human right organizations including the American Congress and President Barack Obama.

It is unlawful and unconstitutional for the Nigerian police to be involved in inappropriate interference with the internal matters of the nation's legislature, and the nation's new Chief Cop knows this.

Behind the scenes, he and his leadership team know that their statutory duty is to “protect and serve” and certainly that does not include blocking opposition lawmakers from entering the Nigerian House of Representatives.That does not include targeting the Speaker of the House,AminuTambuwal, because he left the ruling People's Democratic Party recently to join the opposition All Progressives Congress.

Further, that does not include interfering with the legislative branch as it relates to the withdrawal of the security details of the House of Representative's speaker.

Within many countries in Africa, the Nigerian police force, in spite of its challenges, is a professional model but with the methods currently used by the Nigerian police force, other law enforcement agencies in the continent could follow, and if this were to happen, the principle of the duty to protect and serve in Africa will be placed in serious danger.

IGP Abba must probe his conscience and reflect on why his uniformed men and women would disallow some House chambers to pass through the parliament's gate when other colleagues gained entry unhindered?

Why would some lawmakers have to resort to scaling a fence at great personal risk just because they want to enter the legislative building?

Why even after they have gained entry are they being tear gassed?

In the wake of all these monumental conflicts and disputes, does the police chief see a way out of all these political tensions?

Ahead of the 2015 national elections and the desperate need for the Jonathan administration to remain in power, will the police chief and his force allow the nonsense of continuing to use them as a means for political revenge?

The IGP knows the political madness will spread just like a virus. While it is difficult to say no to the national boss, Abba must ask himself as a man, as a citizen and as an officer, what is the first personal interest--the partisan ways of the Jonathan presidency or should the needs of country be put first?

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic, Clinical and National Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. [email protected]

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