The lawyer called for revival of Nigeria Police Council
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has stated that the appointment of an Inspector General of Police solely by the President was illegal.
According to him, constitutionally, the duty of appointing an IGP belonged to the Nigeria Police Council. Mr. Falana said this had not been applied since the return of democracy.
The lawyer was speaking at the launching of a book by Debo Bashorun, titled ‘Honour for Sale, An Insider Account of the Murder of Dele Giwa,’ on Friday in Lagos.
Revive Police Council
“The Nigeria Police Council which has 40 members namely – the President, the state governors, the Inspector General of Police and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, has never met since 1999,” Mr. Falana said.
“Before appointing the Inspector General of Police, the council should meet and advise the president,” he explained. “But since 1999, the power of the council has been usurped by the sole power of Presidents (Olusegun) Obasanjo, late (Umar) Yar’Adua and (Goodluck) Jonathan, who have all appointed the IGP without consulting the police council as stipulated by the constitution. Therefore the quality of the appointment of the Inspector General of Police is in question.”
Speaking on the Rivers State crisis and the recent disruption of some governors meeting by a police officer, Mr. Falana said, “Section 215(1) of the Constitution gives Governors the power to direct the police apparatus in their states; hence it is of the highest illegality for a Police Commissioner to disregard the lawful authority of a state governor.”
Mr. Falana decried the close relationship between the law enforcement agents and the ruling class, warning that this association was now the major threat to Nigeria’s democracy and rule of law.
“It is obvious that the power of the Nigerian police has been hijacked by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The present chairman of the Police Service Commission is a card carrying member of the (PDP),”he alleged.
He advised state governors to demand the resuscitation of the Nigeria Police Council.
In his remark, the chairman of the event, Itse Sagay, alleged that the failure of the Nigerian security operatives to identify and prosecute the killers of Dele Giwa, gave way to many unresolved as well as the ongoing killings in the country.
Mr. Giwa was a journalist with Newswatch Magazine when he was murdered during the Ibrahim Babangida administration. He was killed by the explosion from a parcel bomb sent to his home.
“Dele Giwa was the most prominent journalist of his era and, indeed, a celebrity who every journalist wanted to be like. His assassination shocked the whole country not just because of who he was but the method by which he was assassinated. We had not, at that time, experienced any death by an explosive device. The impunity in killing Dele Giwa made life very cheap in Nigeria, and very easy to take that life without any consequence,” the constitutional lawyer said
Gani’s book on Dele Giwa
The wife of late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, Ganiyat, who was a guest at the event, stole the show when she revealed a similar book written by her husband.
Presenting the book, Mrs. Fawehinmi alleged that it never made it to the public because the then military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, burnt over 5,000 copies of it.
“Babangida burnt over 5,000 copies of the book because he did not want the world to see and know how Dele Giwa was killed,” Mrs. Fawehinmi said.
Mr. Fawehinmi, who was a friend of Mr. Giwa, at the time, fought relentlessly in court against the Babangida government over the journalist’s murder.
Mrs. Fawehinmi claimed to have retained the only copy of the book available, which was given to her by her husband before he died.
“As far I am concerned, Babangida has murdered sleep and I know he will sleep no more,” she said as she showed the graphic picture from the book of Dele Giwa’s burnt torso due to the parcel’s explosion.
Mr. Bashorun, whose book on Dele Giwa had brought the audience together, wept uncontrollably while reading his speech, in which he described the torment he went through trying to unravel Mr. Giwa’s murder.