Explainer: Why the National Assembly's vote of no-confidence on the IGP means nothing

Jun 07, 2018|Afolabi Adekaiyaoja

On June 5th, in a closed session, the National Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence on the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

This was related to his refusal to respond to a Senate summons after the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye.


Why is the National Assembly in a rift with the Inspector-General?

Firstly, the Inspector-General has refused to honour the summons of the National Assembly. The first summons was in April, following the arrest of Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) and a host of inadeuate responses to security threats across the country. However, the Inspector-General was in Bauchi with the President and sent his Deputy Inspector-General of Operations, who the Senators refused to see.

The second summons was in May, when Idris was in Kaduna.

The third summons was later in May and resulted in the Senate deeming the Inspector-General 'an enemy of democracy'. The Inspector-General released a statement, condemning the Senate's resolution, referring to it as 'blackmail, witch-hunting, unfortunate and mischievous'. 


What is the real issue?

The National Assembly has complained that this is an attempt by the Executive to circumvent the authority of the Legislature. Saraki, in his statement, cited that 'The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions including Legislators and Judiciary by the police and other security agencies must stop...'

This is the latest in a back and forth between the Executive arm of government and the Legislature. The Inspector-General is not the first member of the Executive to refuse a Senate summons. The Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Hameed Ali, made headlines last year over his staunch refusal to go to the Senate.

In another twist, over the weekend, the Department of State Services (DSS) substantially reduced the number of officers assigned to the security detail of the presiding officers of the Senate and the House. The DSS, as an executive parastatal, reports to the President


What does the vote mean?

In simple words, nothing.

As a member of the Executive and not directly responsible for public funds, the only person with the power to remove the Inspector-General of Police is the President, after consulting with the Nigerian Police Council.

The Constitution only makes allowance for one vote of no-confidence by the National Assembly- to remove the President. However unlikely that is, primarily the president is still firmly in control of the party, the evolving drama between the Executive and Legislature doesn't look likely to end anytime soon.


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