In this write up, MBACHU GODWIN NNANNA dissects the travails of the senator representing Kogi West District, Dino Meleye and his chances of re-election.
Embattled outspoken senator from Kogi West, Dino Melaye could be said to have murdered sleep for his critical stand against his state government which he helped to bring to power. In politics they say political offences are not easily forgiven while loyalty is rewarded.
Melaye, who is a close ally and defender of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has suffered many political battles in his bid to relaunch himself to the Red chamber in the forthcoming general election.
The senator, who many describe as cosmic, came to political limelight during the Patricia Etteh saga in the then house of representatives, where he arrogated to himself the chief defender of speaker Etteh. Etteh was accused of financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds and was subsequently impeached by her colleagues. Melaye’s role in the Etteh saga cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
Many believe that his over zealousness and ambition brought him to a head on collusion with the powers that be both in the state and at the national level.
But Melaye came to the defence of those who believe that in Modern Democracies all over the world, the legislator performs the constitutional responsibility of the watch dog on the executive arm of government by cutting down the excesses of the executive. Equally, a legislator has the privilege of carrying out his legislative functions unhindered and his comments, actions, speech in the parliament are protected by the rules of the senate.
In other words, a senator of any legislative house is expected to act responsibly and contribute to the development of the country through robust debates, motions and sponsoring of bills .
Unarguably, the loquacious senator, who chairs the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) committee since the inception of the 8th senate has been visible and has contributed immensely to the development of democracy by contributing his quota to debates and motions on the floor of the senate. This can be attested to through many of his bills and motions, even though some of them are controversial in nature.
Many believe that Melaye’s ordeal started when he decided to openly criticize his estranged friend now turned political foe and Kogi State Governor, Yayaha Bello’s style of governance in the state thus pitching him against the governor. The lawmaker who often says that if you speak the truth you will die and if you lie you will die, said he has chosen to speak the truth and die irrespective of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. On many occasions, Melaye had alleged that his state governor was behind his ordeals.
Bello and his camp later launched a counter-attack against the embattled senator whom they described as enemy of the state. Having drawn the battle line, Melaye has been battling for political survival as the political atmosphere appears too hot for him.
First, to clip the lawmaker’s over grown wings, the youthful governor pulled the carpet off his feet by taking over the party’s structure in the state, thus forcing the lawmaker’s exit from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Another major battle waged against Melaye was the plot to recall him from the prestigious Red Chambers mid last year . This was however, after several failed attempts by the Nigerian Police Kogi state command to arrest him over series of allegations.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had through a petition written by Kogi West constituents conducted a recall exercise in his constituency but failed to meet with the constitutional requirement of recalling a sitting senator. The recall exercise which took place while Melaye was hospitalised in Abuja over injury he sustained in a clash with the operatives of the homicide session of the Nigerian Police could only record 5% of the total votes. Melaye however, survived the recall plot and bounced back at the upper chamber where he also continued his verbal attacks on his state government and the APC-led federal government. He criticises virtually every of their policies. He boasted that he would continue to speak out against what he called anti-people policies of the government until his people are liberated.
Melaye, before his current arrest had raised the alarm over an alleged sinister plot to arrest him and inject him with a poisonous substance. His travails is still not over as he is currently been held by the police after eight days of hiding, to answer to fresh charges of alleged offence committed in Kogi state.
He was said to have refused to present himself to the police for prosecution, thus leading to the operatives laying siege to his Maitama, Abuja residence for several days to affect his arrest. Melaye, who is now at the police clinic in Abuja appealed to the police to return him to the National hospital for treatment but was rejected.
Some human right activists and lawyers however condemned the police siege and invasion of the legislator’s highbrow apartment for several days, as well as consequent harassment, adding that it was unconditional and a breach of his fundamental human right.
But, some argued that the lawmaker was not above the law saying he should have turned himself in for the police to answer for any charge preferred against him than taking laws into his hands.
However, political pundits and his supporters have queried the timing of the police invitation of the outspoken lawmaker who in their opinion is being intimidated and witch hunted for political reasons. A ranking senator, Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central had argued that Maleye’s human right should be respected while the police professionally carry out their investigation.
As the election draws closer, there are concerns over Melaye’s political career as his long absence from his constituency may spell doom for his re-election bid. It sill remains how Meleye who is the Peoples Democratic Party senatorial candidate for the Kogi West senatorial district in the Febuary 16th election will wriggle out of his many travails or will he eat the humble pie?.
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