Move Melaye to National Hospital Abuja, Kogi Chief Judge Orders Police

To hear application for bail Monday  N100m spent on failed attempt to recall senator
By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, yesterday ordered that Senator Dino Melaye be taken to the National Hospital, Abuja where he should remain under the custody and supervision of the police.  It also emerged yesterday that N100 million was spent on the failed attempt to recall Melaye.
Justice Ajanah gave the order to send Melaye back to Abuja at the High Court in Lokoja when the counsel to Senator Melaye, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, filed a motion seeking the bail of the Senator who is standing trail for alleged conspiracy and gun running, among other charges the police brought against him.
In its motion, the prosecution, led by Theophilus Oteme Esq, OC Legal of Kogi police command, prayed that the lower court’s ruling be varied and that the defendant be remanded in prison custody as originally sought.
In the motion file by the defence, led by Chief Ozekhome, the defendant applied for bail and urged the court to order that he (Melaye) be remanded at the National Hospital, Abuja in view of his health challenges. Arguing the motion Ozekhome prayed the court to, in the interest of justice, abridge the time both prayers would be taken, because of the critical health condition of the defendant-applicant.
“He was taken to the lower court yesterday (Thursday) on a stretcher and, as we speak, he is still on the stretcher,” argued Ozekhome.
Ozekhome said that the life of the applicant was in danger since the police in the state had no medical facility to take care of the defendant while in their custody.
The Chief Judge in his ruling on the applications said that while both parties were on the same page in their call for variation, their destinations, on the issue of bail, were different.
Ajanah said he was inclined to grant the prayers of the two parties in which they sought variation of the court order on the custody of the Senator.
He, however, conceded that it was only a fit person that could stand trial, saying, “In fact, that is why it is called, Standing Trial. In the circumstance, therefore, I hereby vary the order of remand of the third defendant as made by the lead counsel.
“I hereby order that the third defendant be kept at the National Hospital, Abuja under the custody and close watch and supervision of the complainant, the Inspector General of Police. The application for the bail in this case will be heard on Monday, the 7th of May, 2018.”
Melaye was on Thursday remanded in police custody by Mr. Sulyman Abdullah of Lokoja Senior Magistrate Court in his ruling on the arraignment of the senator along with Kabiru Seidu, aka Osama and Nuhu Salihu, aka Small. They were charged with criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms and illegal gun dealing, contrary to various sections of the appropriate laws.
N100m spent on failed attempt to recall Melaye
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Coammission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that only N100 million was spent on the failed attempt to recall Melaye. The INEC chairman said this while responding to a question posed by this reporter at a press conference in Abuja yesterday. Yakubu said the figure was nowhere near the N1 billion being bandied by the Peoples Democratic Party. He said a recall exercise was just like conducting a Senatorial election, adding that Kogi-West which Melaye represents, has 552 polling units and seven local governments. The INEC boss said ad-hoc staff were deployed in all the polling units.
Police Overreacted, Treated Melaye Like Convict, Says Lawal Rabana
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Lawal Rabana, has slammed the police for the alleged ill-treatment they meted out to Melaye, accusing the security agency of treating the lawmaker like a criminal.
The lawyer told THISDAY yesterday that the way the police handled the senator was as if he had already been convicted by a court of law.
Melaye is currently being tried by two courts: a magistrate’s court in Lokoja, Kogi State is trying him for conspiracy and aiding a jailbreak while he is facing charges of attempted suicide and escape from lawful custody in another magistrate’s court in Abuja.
Rabana said: “No matter the conduct of Melaye, he is presumed innocent before the law. But he has been treated like a convict already. Even if a person has through self-infliction, fallen sick or become temporarily incapacitated, why do you have to take him to court in that circumstance? Why don’t you grant him access to good medical treatment? Why don’t you grant him administrative bail? So, he’s being treated as if he’s already a convict. But as far as the law is concerned, he’s presumed innocent until he’s adjudged guilty.
“For me, because of the conduct of Melaye, I think the police also have overreacted in the manner in which he has been dealt with. Two wrongs can never make a right. Melaye is still innocent until he’s proven guilty.”
The House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, has also raised an eyebrow over the manner the police had handled Melaye’s case.
“All I can say is that nothing must happen to the senator. I don’t think the law supports a situation whereby someone is in a dire health situation and is being arraigned, most especially when that person is a senator,” Dogara said.
The senior advocate, however, pointed out that Melaye put himself in the situation that made it possible for the police to handle him like a criminal.
“Let me say that the whole scenario is self-inflicted by Senator (Dino) Melaye. He demonstrated total disregard for the rule of law. Number one, he was politely invited by the police to come and respond to some allegations levelled against him, he ignored that. He did not turn up; he did not respond until he was declared wanted. And, even when he was declared wanted, he made no attempt whatsoever to peacefully turn himself over to the police until he was forcefully arrested.
“So to me, it is unbecoming of a senator, the highest lawmaking organ of this country to act as if there are no laws; there are no authorities, there are no institutions. Senators don’t have immunity. He should have demonstrated respect for the rule of law by honouring that invitation,” Rabana added.