Like a cat with nine lives, Dino Melaye, senator, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, has not ceased to fight political battles from many fronts, writes as Yekini Jimoh
Either by accident or design, Senator Dino Melaye is a house hold name in the nationâ€™s political artery. His role as a member of House of Representatives some years back during the â€œEtteh Gateâ€ saga was the first to bring him into political limelight, although not a very pleasant example. Some call him a jester; others have their pet names for him. Whichever way, he has his style and approach to issues and it appears to have worked for him over time.
This is why any attempt at the history of the 8th Senate may be incomplete without a copious mention of Melaye, who many have described as a cat with nine lives.
His â€œpro-mass activismâ€ preceded his first shot at the National Assembly, when he represented the people of Kogi West at the lower chamber, where he stood against the removal of Hon. Patricia Etteh, then speaker of the House of Representatives, accused of financial misappropriation.
As a member of the 8th Senate, his encounter with a colleague and wife of former Lagos State Governor, Senator Remi Tinubu in 2016, soon put him out. Tinubu had reportedly said, â€œWhenever Senator Dino speaks in this chamber, he is always threatening people and behaving childishly and at times like a thug.â€
This, of course, did not go down well with Melaye, who many believe is disrespectful to the womenfolk. However, irked by Tinubuâ€™s comment, he immediately charged towards her saying, â€œLook, this is not Bourdillon (referring to the famous Lagos residence of Senator Bola Tinubu, husband of Remi). I will beat you up; â€¦ and nothing will happen.â€
In his typical nature, Dino, days later stormed the Bourdillon Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, which houses Tinubuâ€™s residence, to prove that he was not scared of anybody. That, of course was dismissed as childish, especially that it was unnecessary.
Whilst feminist movements, media and political interest groups ruminated over Melayeâ€™s encounter with Tinubu at the red chamber, an online report had also come out to say Melaye didnâ€™t graduate from the Department of Geography, Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He vehemently denied the reports and even filed N5b defamatory suit against the online medium.
For the period the controversy lasted, all named institutions when contacted denied the online mediumâ€™s claim. As it has always been, he weathered the storm and even released a popular musical track, â€œAje ku iya nio je,â€ obviously alluding to alleged gang-up against him by his political foes.
Melaye took to his social media page to mock those he perceived as his enemies for doubting his claim that he actually graduated with a 3rd class. He took his reaction to the clearance by the ABU vice chncellor to a whole new level, when he appeared for Senate plenary in an academic gown, a move that was widely mocked.
His love for flashy cars has always got people questioning the humongous salaries the lawmakers get and if these monies they collect for their respective constituencies are actually expended on what they are meant for. In all of this, the senator did not bulge as he continued to display his wealth.
In March 2016, a mild drama occurred at the red chamber when Melaye was contributing to a motion seeking the need to patronise products made in Nigeria. In a brazen fashion, he took a swipe at Oshiomhole when he said Nigerians should not emulate the immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, whom he said opted not to â€œpatronise made-in-Nigeria women but a foreign wife.â€
But Oshiomhole didnâ€™t find the joke funny. In his reaction, he said Melaye was suffering from verbal diarrhoea, â€˜vainglorious rodomontade.â€™ He went on to describe him as a simpleton, court jester, a man who â€˜cagorisesâ€™ women and who has an array of concubines and could not sustain his marriage.
As the current Chairman of Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Melaye had once ordered the slaughtering of cows found roaming within the Abuja metropolis.
When his benefactor, Senate President Bukola Saraki, was dragged to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Melaye vowed to die for him. He immediately took to his Facebook page to reiterate his love for Saraki, who was undergoing trial for false declaration of assets. He said despite the allegations of corruption hanging on Saraki, the Senate President must remain in office for four years.
During the inauguration of the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, as the 4th governor of the state, Melaye who was the master of ceremony had said during the occasion that whoever fights Bello fights God. According to him, the people of the state voted for the late Prince Abubakar Audu but God voted for Bello.
Today, Melaye and Bello donâ€™t see face-to-face as their friendship has turned sour due to their political differences. Several times, he has escaped assassination attempt on his life. The first incident was sometime in December 2016, when some unknown gunmen invaded his residence at his country home, Ayetoro-Gbede in Ijumu local government of the state.
The second attempt on his life was in Kabba during the Kabba Day celebration, when some political thugs almost lynched him after he had delivered his speech at the occasion. It took the grace of God for him to escape from the venue. The third incident was the biggest and it occurred at the Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja.
Dino had arrived at the main gate of the institution to address thousands of his supporters over non-payment of salary to Kogi workers by the state governor. Some minutes later, some thugs invaded the place and started shooting sporadically. One of the political thugs was gunned down, when he wanted to shoot one of the security men attached to Melaye. It took the intervention of the security agents to bring the situation under control.
His unending feud with Governor Bello is believed to have led the current attempt at his recall from the Senate. First in the history of the country, Melaye is the first lawmaker, whose constituents have begun the process of recalling.
Melaye seems to thrive in controversies and had severally fingered Bello as the architect of the recall process. And amidst the recall process, Melaye was allegedly indicted by two suspects of gun running deal. The two suspect, who were paraded before newsmen at the state force headquarter in Lokoja by the public relations officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, alleged that Melaye gave them some guns and the sum of over N400,000 towards 2019 general election in the state.
He, therefore, declared Melaye wanted if he fails to appear before the police. But Melaye, in his reaction, said he did not flee the country but rather, Bello and the Nigeria Police were planning to kill him.
In a press statement, the senator said he ordinarily wanted to ignore the antics of Bello and the Nigeria Police, which have openly taken sides in the Kogi crisis, save for the â€˜latest but coordinated lies in the garb of exclusive news by the notorious online blackmailerâ€™.
He noted that he did not flee Nigeria and had no reason to flee the country leaving behind his family as the online paper wanted Nigerians to believe. â€œThe lies in the online report is nothing but to cause serious disharmony in the Senate and among united majority senators, who are resolute in defending democracy and its institutions, no matter whose ox is gored,â€ he stressed.
According to him, he did not receive any court summon either in person or by proxy in his house or office for him to appear on March 28 as being insinuated by the Police.
He said, â€œLast Mondayâ€™s stage-managed parade of crime suspects in Lokoja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Jimoh Moshood, where a suspect was tutored to implicate me is just a continuation and expansion of the Police attempt to have me arrested at all cost and ultimately kill me.
â€œThe public will recall that on Thursday, March 1, 2018, when the federal government arraigned me for allegedly giving â€˜false informationâ€™ to the Police in a case of failed assassination plot against me at the FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja, SARS operatives from Kogi State Police Command laid siege on the court premises in order to prevent me from enjoying my bail with the intention to kidnap me to Lokoja to be poisoned, although it turned out to be another failed attempt on my life.
â€œIt is worrisome that the Police Headquarters has got itself entangled in the Kogi political crisis and has taken side. It is however bizarre and unprecedented that the FPRO, Mr. Moshood, will have to travel to Lokoja last Monday in order to act a script written by Governor Bello.
â€œA discerning mind will ask that, how many times has Mr. Moshood travelled to Sokoto, Enugu or Lagos to parade suspects on behalf of a Police Commissioner? It has become expedient for me to issue this statement to the public and to let you know that I have taken the matter up with the international community in order to report this undue intimidation and harassment.
â€œLet me reiterate here for the umpteenth time that no amount of intimidation, blackmail, arrests or threats will stop me from championing the cause of the masses.â€
Of course, it has never been a dull moment with Melaye. He is a perfect epitome of the proverbial cat with nine lives as he continues with his survival battles.
Quote: His unending feud with Governor Bello is believed to have led the current attempt at his recall from the Senate. First in the history of the country, Melaye is the first lawmaker, whose constituents have begun the process of recalling