The speaker says the culture of impunity in governance must be halted.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has lambasted the Commissioner of Police for Abuja, Joseph Mbu, for ordering a ban on protests urging increased government action for the release of abducted schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State.
The ban, imposed by Mr. Mbu on Monday, was reversed a day after following widespread condemnation.
The police high command denounced Mr. Mbu’s action, saying protesters were free to hold daily sit-in, provided they remain peaceful.
The protests have held for more than a month since more than 200 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Borno State.
In a speech marking the end of the third legislative year, Thursday, Mr. Tambuwal said Mr. Mbu’s “audaciousness” in ordering the ban showed Nigeria’s “descent into the pits of reckless disregard for the rights of citizens”.
The speaker said the ban was “unacceptable” and vowed that the House will treat the police commissioner’s order with the “seriousness that it deserves”.
“To buttress our descent into the pits of reckless disregard for the rights of citizens, the nation recently woke up to the sad dawn of a Commissioner of Police acting on his own initiative, without clearance from his superiors and in flagrant contravention of the clear Constitutional guarantees of the right of citizens audaciously purporting to ban the peaceful assembly of Nigerians,” Mr. Tambuwal said.
“This is an unacceptable abridgement of the rights of Nigerians to freedom of speech, association and peaceful assembly, and this House must treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves.”
A controversial figure, Mr. Mbu was drafted to Abuja as police chief after a turbulent run in Rivers State where he maintained a testy relationship with the governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
While in Rivers State, the police commissioner repeatedly clamped down on protests and meetings defying widespread criticisms of his conduct.
Mr. Mbu has been accused of being unprofessional and doing the bidding of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Tambuwal said the “fact that the office of the Inspector-General of Police felt compelled to deny the action of the Police Commissioner only goes to underscore the audaciousness of the conduct of the Police commissioner.”
“As important as all our duties and functions as the legislative arm in a democratic government are, none is more important than our duty to protect and preserve the rights guaranteed to all Nigerians by our Constitution. Any attempt by anybody to infringe on the rights of Nigerians is a direct affront to this House. This House must therefore take necessary measures to ensure that such sacrilege does not repeat itself anywhere in Nigeria.
The culture of impunity at the highest levels of governance in Nigeria must be brought to a halt,” he said.
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