The leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday says it cannot be intimidated by the Nigerian Police to abandon the investigation into various allegations of corruption and brutality leveled against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Abdulrazak Namdas, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity gave the House position in response to the media report credited to Police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood insinuating that the #EndSARS# lead campaigner, Mr. Segun Awosanya has ties with politicians, assured Nigerians that the proposed investigate public hearing would be thorough and transparent, with the view to ensure that justice is done.
“The attention of the House of Representatives and that of the Rt. Hon. Speaker Yakubu Dogara has been drawn to stories in the media credited to the Police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood insinuating that the #EndSARS# lead campaigner, Mr. Segun Awosanya has ties with politicians and even displaying a photograph in which the said Awosanya appears with the Hon. Speaker
“This is the height of blackmail against the person and office of the Speaker and an affront on the institution of the House of Representatives.
“Although, the Force PRO denied accusing the speaker of sponsoring Mr. Awosanya and other campaigners, we wish, for the sake of clarity to address the mischief inherent in this sinister and insidious action by Moshood and the Police to make the Rt. Hon. Speaker and the House of Representatives subject of controversy and to divert public attention from the apparently sordid and weighty allegations against the Police.
“In the consciousness of the fact that the House is investigating the matter, we shall abstain from indulging in any comment that might be prejudicial to the investigation. This not withstanding, because of the gravity of the mischief, it is imperative to disabuse the minds of the public.
“It is important to note at this point that the Police spokesman accuses politicians and Speaker Dogara along cannot be a politician. In any case, the House of Representatives and indeed the parliament happens to be the home of the highest number of politicians especially elected officials. It is obvious that, they are part of the politicians being so accused.
“Speaker Yakubu Dogara is not ashamed of being a politician because he is not just a politician but a tested and trusted leader, a lawyer and legislator of note with untainted honour and impeccable integrity. The Honourable members of the House of Representatives do not also have any cause to deny their status as politicians.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the picture in question was taken in September this year, when Mr. Awosanya came to submit the petition against SARS, which is a daily happening in the House and indeed any other parliament. This should not in any way be interpreted as ‘hobnobbing’ with politicians. If any official interaction between citizens and politicians is to be construed as “hobnobbing” then, all citizens, the Police inclusive would be guilty.
“The Police ought to know that sovereignty belongs to the people and the House of Representatives is made up of true representatives of the people; hence people have the constitutional right to express themselves without let or hindrance; and so can at any time petition the National Assembly, on any issue that affects their interests or the interest of the nation.
“As the Speaker assured the petitioners in September, the House of Representatives under his watch cannot be intimidated to abandon the investigation into these allegations of corruption and brutality against innocent citizens by SARS.
“The House would thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that justice is done.
“The Police as law enforcers are aware that no institution of government is above the laws of the land and subjection to the oversight and scrutiny of the legislature,” Namdas noted.
He further noted that the IGP’s directive for immediate reorganization of SARS was a “confirmation that all is not well with the activities of the embattled squad. This, not withstanding, the House commends the maturity and introspection of the IGP through his directive for immediate reorganisation of SARS which is an indication that all may not be well with the activities of the embattled squad after all.”
To this end, he urged the Police to ensure “respect for the constitutional rights of the citizens to participate in governance through opinions and contribution of ideas and must protect citizens exercising that constitutional right including the #EndSARS lead campaigner, Segun Awosanya, any other campaigners and indeed all citizens exercising their constitutional rights lawfully.
“The House of Representatives remains resolute in its pursuit of justice and entrenchment of the rule of law in Nigeria. It will continue to exercise its statutory responsibility and will not hesitate to wield the big stick where such is the justice of thr case. Of course, citizens are assured that they will not suffer sanctions unjustifiably.
“The House wishes to urge all the #EndSARS campaigners to conduct themselves strictly within the ambit of the law in exercising their rights and to rest assured that the House of Representatives will expeditiously consider their petition.
“The investigations will be carried transparently and everyone will be given opportunity to present his or her side of the story,” he noted.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja