23 May 2018

Nigeria: Senate's Mace Theft Probe - Committee Accuses Police of Breach of Rule of Law

Abuja — The Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee investigating the invasion of the Senate and stealing of the mace yesterday scolded the police for an alleged slow pace of the investigation of the matter.

The Chairman of the committee and Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah, (APC Kebbi South), also pointed out procedural flaws in the police probe, accusing it of not following due process and not applying speed in the prosecution of the matter.

This followed the submissions by the Commissioner of Police (CP), Force Headquarters, Abu Sanni, who appeared before the committee at the ongoing public hearing, that the prime suspects in the mace theft incident were still in police custody.

Asked by the Co-chairman of the committee, Hon. Betty Apiafi, whether Sanni had himself seen the accused person whom he claimed to be in police custody, his response indicated he had not seen them.

Apiafi said: "You have five prime suspects in custody and you've not seen them. You are not pushful in this investigation and we are not impressed."

Ibn Na'Allah, thereby pointed out that the police had breached due process by the continued detention of the suspects without trial.

He said the police ought to have charged them to court, and thereafter, get a judgment to retain the accused in police custody for further investigation.

He said based on the nature and national embarrassment the incident had caused, certain prompt actions were expected from police.

"Some people should have been arraigned to keep them in lawful custody.

"You are not following the rule of law: you should have taken them to court to ask for more time to keep them.

"You have not acted on available theories because there is the theory that there was internal collaboration between security agencies to embarrass the National Assembly.

"We find it difficult to appreciate the slow pace of probe. Even President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned and we are all worried."

The chairman, therefore, ruled that the officer in charge of the prime suspects should appear unfailingly before the committee today.

The CP, however, blamed the absence of functional security cameras in the National Assembly for its inability to make remarkable progress on the investigations- a claim which further angered the committee members.

He said the matter was being handled professionally adding that there was an interim report as well as more facts unfolding.

He said the police believed there are some external connections which had play a critical role in the incident even more than the suspects in custody.

He said the suspects in custody might have lied from the accounts of their statements.

He said there are other areas of the probe which the police is currently looking at, adding that "We bent on getting to the root of the matter."

However, former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who was summoned alongside Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) to appear before the committee, refused to address the lawmakers before the cameras but instead demanded a closed-door session to speak.

Also, Omo-Agege refrained from addressing the committee, claiming that the matter is already before a court of law."

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