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Melaye: As NASS, Presidency Cold War Lingers

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AHURAKA YUSUF ISAH in this report writes that the travails of Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West, APC) is an echo to a lingering Presidency/Senate Cold War.

Finally, the comic drama which began on the morning of Monday, April 23, 2018 when Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi west, APC) was stopped by operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, from travelling to Morocco ended up in his arrest and subsequent handcuffed on hospital bed the following day. Immigration officials which placed Melaye under arrest ‘based on instruction’, perhaps followed the fact that the police have been on his trail for weeks after he had been declared wanted for alleged possession of illegal firearms as well as supplying arms to some murder suspects. By 7:32 a.m. that Monday, Melaye announced the arrest on his Twitter, saying “I have just been arrested at the international wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on my way to Morocco for an official engagement sponsored by the Federal Government after checking in”.

Part of the drama was that the police failed to take Melaye into their custody thereby forcing Immigration operatives to loose their hold on him leading to his been “mysteriously” whisked away from the airport in a waiting Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) while the stand-off lasted. Curiously, it’s the same police that in some hours later surrounded and laid siege to the Abuja home of Melaye. However, without report of firing a short or breaking into his house, reports made round early in the morning of Tuesday April 24th that operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had arrested Melaye in his house and had taken him to its Headquarters, Guzape, Abuja. Reports came few hours later that Melaye had reportedly jumped off a moving vehicle to stop an attempt by police officers to take him to Lokoja, Kogi State, to answer to criminal charges on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

The lawmaker was said to have escaped from police custody with the help of unknown thugs who allegedly blocked the path of the police vehicle conveying him, prompting him to jump out of the vehicle through the window and escaped with the hoodlums. A police statement released read: “At about 12pm of today (Tuesday) Sen. Dino Melaye while in lawful custody of the Nigeria Police Force and being taken for arraignment in Federal High Court Lokoja, from Abuja, escaped from lawful custody when hoodlums and miscreants in Two (2) Toyota Hilux Vehicles blocked the Police vehicle conveying Senator Dino Melaye around Area 1 Round About, Abuja and in the process the Senator jumped out of the Police vehicle through the window and was rescued from the Police men by hoodlums and miscreants to an unknown destination.” The Senator resurfaced at the Zankli Medical Center in an ambulance, apparently unconscious, around 4:25pm and was admitted into the emergency unit. A team of at least 30 armed police officers caught up with him in the health facility and took custody of the room he was admitted into. The lawmaker was moved to the National Hospital, Abuja, in a police ambulance around 9:30 pm and has since been holed there with all security apparatus to forestall “hospital jail break’’. Melaye has a huge description in the present senate. Its history won’t be complete until the role played by him is told. He is unarguably Saraki’s battle-axe with he’s combating the Senate-Presidency Cold War that began the very day he was “elected’’ on June 9, 2015. All economic policies of the federal government has been thrown into disarray, bugged down and set on mix-performance with yearly late appropriations.

The main thrust of the administration was not left out as the senate refused to confirm the appointment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu that is to prosecute the anti-corruption war in the country. Magu was rejected on March 15, 2017 after his appearance before the Senate for his confirmation during which Dino Melaye raised the SSS report dated March 14, 2017 after Magu had answered wide range of questions and it appeared he was going to scale the Senate hurdle. “In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption stand of the current government,” the SSS report, read by Melaye, stated. Facing Mr. Melaye, he said, “We were fighting corruption together before you came to this house and turned against us.” On March 29, 2017, Senate suspended Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (Borno South, APC), for six months for raising a motion on the floor of the senate, to demand for an investigation into media reports alleging that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki imported a bullet proof range rover with fake documents; while Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi west) forged Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria first degree certificate. Senate said the suspension of Ndume who backed Saraki’s coup deta’t against his party (APC) to grab senate president seat on June 9, 2015 will serve as deterrence to others against raising allegations without due diligence, caution and patriotic zeal thereby bringing senate members and senate as an institution to disrepute, On February 21, 2018, Melaye moved a motion for the senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate statement made by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC Delta Central) to the press to effect that amongst other things, saying the decision taken by the Senate was targeted at President Buhari and that he would not be a part of it.

Melaye asked the Senate to investigate the matter, saying “I cannot be part of any group of persons taking decisions in this Senate being tele guided and targeted at any particular person, which to me is no longer democracy. That statement to me is weighty. “I want to add that this statement was made by Omo-Agege among other statements that the Committee on Ethics and Privileges need to investigate this matter and find out if truly our decision was made and targeted at Mr President among other issues raised by him. And on April 12, 2018, Senate suspended Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days over unproven allegations against his colleagues that the new amendment to the Electoral Act regarding election sequence in the 2019 general elections was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari. Karma is the Sanskrit word for action. It is equivalent to Newton’s law of ‘every action must have a reaction’. When we think, speak or act we initiate a force that will react accordingly. This returning force maybe modified, changed or suspended, but most people will not be able to avert it. What happens, it says, to a person, happens because he caused it with his actions. What goes around comes around” or “as you sow, so shall you reap’’, Karma justice or the doctrine of inevitable consequence postulates.

The has in their statement on April 27, 2018 said Melaye is liable to charges of “Criminal Conspiracy and Unlawful Possession of Prohibited Firearms and other sundry offences based on the confessions of two suspected kidnappers and armed robbers namely, Kabiru Saidu a.k.a. Osama and Nuhu Salisu a.k.a. Small. After Kabiru Saidu, a.k.a Osama, and Nuhu Salisu, aka Small, were arrested at Ogojueje in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi on January 19, 2018, they confessed to the police that Senator Melaye hired them to cause unrest in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections. The criminal suspects revealed that the lawmaker handed them a bag containing one AK-47 rifle, two pump action guns and the sum of N430,000 to recruit hardened troublemakers and unleash mayhem in Kogi. The police first requested Melaye’s presence in a letter addressed to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, dated March 2, 2018, urging him to report to the Police on March 7 to answer to the criminal offences levelled against him, but he refused the invitation, alleging that the police was colluding with the Kogi state government to cause him harm. He was officially declared wanted by the police on March 28, the day he was due to be arraigned in court over the charges of criminal conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms alongside Osama and Small who both escaped from their prison cell but were rearrested before April 1.

However, Section 123(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code makes it mandatory that a person invited by the police in connection with any investigation shall attend the invitation and answer the questions put to him. This is just as the police has power to arrest any person upon reasonable suspicion of his committing a crime. This constitutional power had been re-echoed by the statutory provisions of Sections 4 and 20 of the Police Act, Cap. P19, LFN, 2004 and Part V, Chapter XII, Section 123(1) & (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. A person is also guilty of crime if he or she escapes from lawful custody. It is not likely that this game or drama would be over soon. Though, all the charges that have been filed or that would be filed against Melaye serially are bailable in their face value. But this drama is a rehearsal of the senate-presidency cold war or at best, an extension of it. Except if the outcome of INEC Recall election held last Saturday April 28, 2018 which shored up Melaye’s profile and public rating may be anything to influence government’s position, otherwise the lawmaker may find it difficult to return to the floor of the senate for the meantime. He may simply suffer the same fate with the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and Shite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky whose bail grants by courts were never honoured. If peradventure, Melaye re-gains his freedom, he should hold thanksgiving in as many churches in Okunland as possible.

 




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