Senator Dino Melaye’s troubles have taken a turn for the worse after a senior magistrate court in Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday clamped him in detention till June 11.
However, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has warned the police authorities to ensure that Melaye’s safety is guaranteed while in their custody.
The trial judge, Magistrate Suleiman Abdala, had ordered Melaye to be remanded along with two other suspects in police custody.
LEADERSHIP Friday, however, gathered from a reliable police source that the police would today seek the leave of court to move the senator from their custody to Koton Karfe prison.
According to the source, the police will file transfer application before the court today and serve the senator’s lawyer with the motion the same day.
“Police cannot afford to keep Dino in their custody for such a long time,” the source said.
Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, came to the court in a hospital stretcher and was arraigned on a six-count charge that bordered on illegal possession of firearms, criminal conspiracy and illegal transfer of firearms, among others.
Reading the charges in court, the prosecution counsel, Alex Izinyon, who cited the relevant laws, said the allegations leveled against the accused persons were too weighty and not ordinarily bailable.
He, therefore, prayed the court to remand Senator Melaye in prison custody while the two suspects, who allegedly implicated Melaye, namely Kabiru Seidu (alias Osama) and Nuhu Salisu (alias Small), be remanded in police custody.
But Melaye’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome swiftly raised objection to the prosecutor’s motion and called for Melaye’s bail citing Sec 97 (2) of the Penal Code and section 56 of the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law which said that the offences were bailable
He also presented two medical reports from the National Hospital, Abuja, which signified that Melaye was bedridden owing to a spinal cord injury he sustained when he jumped off a police van in Abuja in an attempt to frustrate the resolve of the police to arraign him in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State.
He further argued that as a vocal senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Melaye could not jump bail if granted one.
The defendant’s counsel pleaded with the trial judge to consider the bail application, pointing out that his client had been with the police since April 24 and was released on bail on Wednesday by an Abuja magistrate court only to be rearrested immediately by the police.
He added that his client was supposed to face prosecution, not persecution.
But the prosecution counsel, Alex Izinyon swiftly opposed the bail application, saying Melaye had earlier escaped from lawful police custody and that for the counsel to say he was a vocal senator “means he is influential and can move and unmove’ anything.”
Midway into the proceedings, Melaye suddenly woke up from the stretcher and looked around the court, and minutes later, the doctor that led the medical team to the court rushed to his side and supplied him an inhaler.
The trial judge, Magistrate Suleiman Abdala, while giving his ruling said the court had listened carefully to the submissions of both counsel and had concluded that the case was not bailable.
He therefore ordered that Melaye and the other two accused persons be remanded in police custody and adjourned the case till June 11, 2018, for mention.
He also ordered that Melaye should be allowed access to his medication.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has urged security operatives to ensure Senator Melaye’s safety while in their custody.
Dogara, who gave the warning yesterday while ruling on a matter of personal explanation brought to the floor by Hon. Sunday Karimi, also lamented the decision of the police to arraign Melaye in court on a gurney.
He said, “All I can say is that nothing should happen to the senator. If anyone in this country commits an offence, the law is there for the person to be prosecuted or arraigned in court within the ambit of the law.
“I don’t think the law supports a situation whereby someone is in a dire health situation and is being arraigned, especially since that person is a senator. It is unthinkable that a distinguished senator or an honourable member of this House would run away from trial.
“So, my admonition to the security agencies is to do everything possible to ensure that his life is secured first before prosecution. Prosecution cannot come at the expense of death, and that is very important because if anything happens to him, the responsibility will lie on the security agencies.
“That is without mincing of words; because I have not seen a country where someone will be arraigned on a stretcher, where he is not even in the right frame of mind to even take a plea. So, what use is it if you’re taking someone to court and he cannot plead guilty or not guilty? So, the emphasis should be on his health first.”
Earlier, Hon. Sunday Karimi had alleged that the senator was “facing persecution because of his belief and the House must not continue to sit down and keep quiet.
“We should ensure that the rule of law prevails in this case. It is happening to Senator Dino today, it could happen to you or me,” he warned fellow lawmakers.
Karimi, who represents Yagba East/Yagba West/Mopa-Moru federal constituency, condemned the large number of policemen deployed to guard Senator Melaye in a health facility.
“I visited him in the hospital and counted up to 38 policemen. On Saturday, INEC went to conduct his recall. Only yesterday, he was arraigned in court in Abuja. Today, Dino was carried in an ambulance to Lokoja,” he said.
Attempt by members to contribute to the issue was stopped by Speaker Dogara who noted that it was not necessary as the Senate was already looking into the issue.
We have no hand in his trial, Kogi Govt insists
The Kogi State government yesterday insisted that it had no hand in the trial of embattled Senator Dino Melaye.
The director-general, Media and Publicity, to the state governor, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, stated this while speaking to journalists in Lokoja yesterday.
He said Governor Yahaya Bello was too focused on good governance to be engaged in matters that have nothing to do with the state government.
When asked if the state government had a hand in Melaye’s trial, Fanwo said, “What is the colour of government’s hand so that we can check again to know if the hand was actually there? Melaye was alleged to have been sponsoring criminals and the police arrested him and are prosecuting him. Kogi State government didn’t arrest him. Kogi State government is not prosecuting him.
“So, what role has the government played? I hope you people will not also say that the Kogi State government pushed him out of lawful police custody? Anyone who has questions to answer should be allowed to answer those questions. The governor is very focused on good governance. The media has been heavily tilted against us by the powerful influencers, to keep a blind eye on our development while also promoting falsehood against the government of Kogi State. That won’t change the focus of the hardworking governor of Kogi State.
On whether the state governor was behind the recall process of Senator Melaye, he said, “The governor is from Kogi Central while Melaye is from the West. Government has no interest whatsoever in the entire recall process.”
On allegation that he disrupted the process in his local government area, Fanwo said, “I also heard the news of the disruption like every other person. It is news to me. I wouldn’t have done that and I didn’t do that”.
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