- Senator rearrested, security beefed up in Lokoja for another trial
- Again, IG shuns Senate over Melaye, renewed killings
Damilola Oyedele, Paul Obi, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
Senator Dino Melaye was Wednesday arraigned before a Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court in Abuja for alleged attempted suicide and escaping from police custody.
The senator, who was arraigned by the Nigeria Police, was carried into the court on a stretcher, under heavy security.
Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, is also being prosecuted for alleged conspiracy and unlawful possession of firearms, which the police said Wednesday they intend to pursue with his arraignment in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, Thursday.
His arraignment for allegedly trying to kill himself and escaping from police custody coincided with the refusal by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to appear before the Senate over what it termed Melayeâ€™s maltreatment by the police and to brief it on the wave of killings in different parts of the country.
In the First Information Report (FIR) filed before Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello, the police stated: â€œThat on the 24th of April 2018, about 1330hrs at Area I roundabout, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the court that you, Senator Dino Melaye of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while being conveyed in a police white Hilux bus with registration number NPF 3354D to Lokoja, Kogi State, to be arraigned in court for conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms in charge number CMCL/14SC/2018 filed at the Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court, Lokoja, you, Senator Dino Melaye, intentionally broke the side windscreen of the bus and jumped out of the bus after it was blocked by a Hilux vehicle with registration number Kaduna MKA603GY occupied by your younger brother Samuel Melaye and one Mr. Amefula David Emeka and driven by a yet-to-be identified person who escaped from the scene after the blockade.
â€œYou, Senator Dino Melaye, after breaking the side windscreen, attempted to kill yourself by jumping out of the bus and fell on the ground and thereafter started shouting that you want to kill yourself and implicate the police for your death.
â€œThat police officers who were escorting you in the bus tried to re-arrest you back to the bus but you resisted further arrest with the help of your brother Samuel Melaye and some lawyers in your company and further threatened to injure the police officers if they tried to further arrest you and you finally escaped from the scene in another Hilux vehicle.â€
In view of the allegations, the police stated that Melaye had committed an offence punishable under Sections 148, 153, 172, 173, 231 and 326 of the Penal Code Act.
Having read out the charges, Melaye pleaded not guilty to them.
The prosecution counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN), subsequently demanded dates for trial but Nkem Okoro, the counsel representing Melaye, persuaded the court to hear his application for bail.
Okoro argued that since the crime for which the senator was being accused of was not a capital offence, he was entitled to bail.
Okoro relied on Section 162 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which sets out the conditions to be considered before a bail application is granted or refused.
But the prosecution counsel told the court not to grant Melaye bail.
Ruling on the bail application, Magistrate Segun-Bello said she had considered arguments for and against the application, and declared that under ACJA, â€œit is imperative to state that bail has been liberalisedâ€.
â€œTaking a look at the provision of Section 162 of ACJA, the prosecution counsel has not proven any reasonable apprehension that would warrant the court denying the defendant bail.
â€œThe prosecution counsel has placed nothing before the court to show why the defendant should not be granted bail.
â€œThere is no evidence tendered before this court to substantiate the prosecution counselâ€™s claim that the defendant will jump bail,â€ she noted.
In addition, the court held that the police counsel could not convince it on how the defendant was likely to influence the prosecution witnesses in the cause of his trial if released on bail.
Consequently, Magistrate Segun-Bello upheld the argument of Melayeâ€™s lawyer and granted the defendant bail to the tune of N90 million with two sureties in like sums.
The court ordered that one of the sureties must be a civil servant not lower than Grade Level 14, and one must have an easily identifiable residence in Abuja.
The court further held that Melaye must deposit his international passport with the Federal Capital Territory Police Command.
In addition, the magistrate ordered that Melaye must report to the Wuse Police Command every working day of the week until same was altered by the court.
In a statement after his arraignment, the police force spokesman Jimoh Moshood said Melaye would still be arraigned in Lokoja for the alleged unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, among other offences.
Moshood said Melayeâ€™s arraignment Wednesday was subsequent to his discharge from the National Hospital where he was confirmed fit for trial.
He explained that the police investigation team rearrested Melaye at the Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court in Abuja for the pending offences and was to be conveyed to Lokoja Wednesday.
Accordingly, plans were afoot Wednesday by the police to beef up security in Lokoja Thursday.
Sources close to the police informed THISDAY in Lokoja that Melaye was rearrested because he had instigated the jailbreak in March at a police station in Lokoja, during which six suspects escaped, including the two that had implicated the senator.
The suspects were later rounded up and rearrested by the police.
One police source revealed that based on their investigations, some of the rearrested criminal suspects had disclosed that it was Melaye who allegedly instigated the jailbreak.
The source further revealed that Melaye will be paraded at the Kogi State Police Command in Lokoja Thursday alongside the criminal suspects in custody before he is charged to court.
He disclosed that it was necessary that the police beef up security to avoid problems when the senator is brought to his home state where he has thousands of supporters.
â€œWe need to beef up our security to avoid protests. People would like to come and see him and also try to protect him. So, we donâ€™t want to leave anything to chance, we have to beef up our security,â€ he said.
IG Shuns Senate
Meanwhile, for the second time in one week, the police IG Wednesday shunned the summons by the Senate over the maltreatment of Melaye in the hands of the police, and to brief it on the rising wave of killings in different parts of the country.
Owing to his failure to honour its invitation, the Senate raised a delegation to meet with the executive arm of government and report Idrisâ€™ penchant for shunning summons by the legislature, despite his critical role in national security.
The delegation is to be led by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, and the Chairman of the Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim.
Idris was initially summoned to appear before the Senate Wednesday, last week following the ordeals of Melaye in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The Senate had also expressed concern over the unending killings in Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and other states.
The IG, however, did not honour the summons, as he was away in Bauchi State for President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s state visit. On Wednesday, he was in Kaduna State to assess the security situation.
His representative, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Mr. Habila Josack, was sent in his stead but was not entertained by the lawmakers, who insisted the police boss must appear himself.
The Senateâ€™s refusal to meet with Josack was the second time in one week also.
Briefing his colleagues, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs said he has been unable to reach the IG.
Ibrahim further disclosed that outside the letter of invitation sent to the IG by the clerk of the Senate, he, Ibrahim had also sent a message to Idris through the DIG last week.
â€œNow I heard he is in Birnin Gwari (Kaduna State),â€ Ibrahim said.
The Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Naâ€™allah, expressed surprise that the IG decided to shun the Senate for a second time, despite legislative powers, as contained in the Constitution, to summon any person.
â€œThere was a time we summoned this same IG, he approached the court that we do not have such powers. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for democracy, the court ruled that the Senate has the powers to summon him. So I am in shock that he did not come,â€ he said.
Naâ€™allah lamented that the conduct of some public office holders ran foul of the good intentions of the president.
â€œWe are going through trying times and the president needs to be assisted to do everything humanly possible to bring this country out of the present situation that it is in.
â€œIf we begin to have this kind of conduct, I would say it will affect our collective effort to assist Mr. President,â€ Naâ€™Allah said.
Presiding, Senate President Bukola Saraki said since the return to democracy in 1999, no IG has failed to honour the invitation of the National Assembly.
He maintained that the Senate was not wrong to have invited the IG to brief them (senators) on an incident involving a colleague and the incessant killings around the country.
â€œNo IG has ever refused to appear before the Senate since we started practising democracy. I donâ€™t think that has happened before. We must know that these actions are dangerous to our democracy.
â€œAgain, we cannot say it is just to us, because the president told us that he told him to go to Benue, and the man refused to go to Benue and he is sitting there and is doing this.
â€œThere are powers we can exercise which are not in the interest of us making progress in this country. Since the beginning of the year, over 500 or 600 people have been killed. The man in charge of enforcing security, but if he does not think that he needs to sit down to engage with us when then? There is something wrong somewhere,â€ he added.
Saraki directed the delegation to report back to the Senate in one week.
The lawmakers had earlier held a closed-door session which lasted for one and a half hours.
THISDAY gathered that the IGâ€™s attitude was the subject matter of the session.
The Senate Wednesday also condemned the physical attack on Senator Matthew Uroghide (Edo PDP) at the Benin airport during the weekend.
A group of thugs, allegedly sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC), had attacked the senator for his comments on the un-appropriated $496 million payment for 12 Super Tucano aircraft by the president.
Uroghide last Thursday had urged the Senate to invoke Section 143 of the Constitution to commence the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Narrating his ordeal to his colleagues through a motion at plenary Wednesday, Uroghide alleged that he was assaulted and harassed by the thugs in the presence of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
â€œOne of the hoodlums lunged at me, hitting me behind the head and causing my hat to fall off to the ground,â€ he said, adding that he was saved by the Nigerian Air Force Commandant who guarded him out of the airport.
â€œDismayed that this incident occurred in response to the constitutional duties, which I was elected to perform, and which I did with grave responsibility and sincerity of purpose.
â€œWorried further that if this barbaric act is not discouraged decisively and emphatically, it could be repeated and become the norm rather than the exception, and have the propensity to lead to chaos, anarchy and eventually loss of lives,â€ he added.
Adopting the prayers of the motion, the Senate directed its Chairman on Police Affairs to liaise with the Edo State Police Commissioner to ensure that the attackers are apprehended.