There were expressions of outrage in the House of Representatives on Wednesday following a report that a serving member, Abbakar Abdulahi Lado (APC, Niger), had been detained by the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, otherwise known as FSARS.
The House gave Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), a 12-hour ultimatum to release the detained lawmaker or face the House.
This followed the consideration and adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance brought by Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu).
Lado, who represents Suleja Federal Constituency of Niger State, was said to have been taken into custody on allegation of inciting violence during the just concluded House of Reps primary election in his constituency.
Okechukwu, while arguing his motion, urged the House leadership to wade into the matter, saying that Lado, who was the first youth leader of the APC in Niger State before coming to the House, had shown good representation of his people and didn’t deserve the treatment he was getting from the state governor.
According to Okechukwu, Lado, having had the premonition that there could be crisis during the primaries in his constituency, alerted the police to ask for protection but got none.
He argued that “instead of the police to provide security as requested by the lawmaker, the police waited until there was crisis and then swooped in to arrest and detain him”.
He added: “Not only was Hon. Lado arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, having appealed to the police to deploy men to prevent any break down of law and order, he was also denied the right of participation in the primaries even though the perpetrators were known faces.”
Okechukwu further argued that before arresting a serving member of the House, the presiding officer must be informed and consent obtained before such an arrest could be carried out.
“As a member, Hon. Lado has served both the APC and his constituency well and the least he should have gotten was the party’s support and that of his constituents,” he said, noting further that “only the state governor could have instructed the police to arrest him”.
He said while the member’s fundamental rights were being violated, those who engineered the crisis were walking free.
Nnenna Ukejeh (PDP, Abia), in her contribution, argued that the rules and the constitution were clear to the effect that a serving member could not be arrested by security agencies without the knowledge of the presiding officer.
Ukejeh, who made reference to her experiences at the just concluded primaries in her state, said the Commissioner of Police and his men stood by while rules were broken and the process subverted.
She called on her colleagues to rally round the detained member with a view to setting an example to the police and correcting inherent anomalies in the nation’s justice system.
Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) also argued that arresting the member placed SARS at variance with the new directives of the IGP since the lawmaker didn’t commit any armed robbery or kidnapping.
He said while SARS had gone beyond its mandate, it had also breached the privileges of the member by arresting and detaining him for three days without seeking the consent of the presiding officer as stipulated by law.
He suggested that the ethics and privileges committee of the House which he chaired be tasked with the objective of probing the matter and recommending appropriate actions.
House majority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), moved for an amendment that the IGP be summoned to appear before the House on Thursday to explain reasons behind the breach of the member’s privileges. But his amendment was further amended.
Ruling on the motion, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said that the IGP be given 12 hours to release the lawmaker or face summons from the House.
He also assured the lawmaker of the House support should he decide to take any legal action against the Niger State governor at whose instance the arrest was made.